Location-Based Reminders, As They Are Now, Aren’t Very Useful.

OmniFocus is missing a delay in location-based reminders. As soon as I’m within range (which is always blocks away), I’m “reminded” to do something I’m not yet able to do, since I’m not there yet. The only app I’ve seen get location-based reminders close to right is Checkmark 2 by Snowman. You can set it to remind you a few minutes after you arrive somewhere, which gives you time to settle in. For a while, I had a reminder that would send me the URL to my OmniFocus task list for work 5 minutes after arriving at the office, which was just enough time to get seated and logged into all my systems.

There’s quite a bit of contextual data other than location which is important for location-based reminders. Location-based reminders need to a) be for categories of locations (are you close to a grocery store, that’s open?), b) know your method of travel (are you currently walking or in a vehicle?), c) possibly wait for a trigger, such as a Foursquare Swarm or Facebook checkin. The open-source OwnTracks app can ping an endpoint of your choosing and then you can have the endpoint take action based on your current location. My current use for it is to have it notify me of which Toronto neighbourhood I find myself in.

My research into notes applications that have APIs continues, and that will make possible much more interesting location-based reminders. Because the current crop lack either more contextual awareness or don’t have a built-in delay, they are not as useful as they could be.