Since iOS 4 made local notifications – the ability of an app to provide you with a push notification without needing an internet connection– possible, developers have been taking advantage of this feature left and right. One area where local notifications come in handy in particular are reminder or to do apps. We use the iPhone’s original Calendar app religiously but find that we often have small tasks that don’t really merit a full-fledged calendar entry but we still need some way to keep track of them. Reminders to take out the trash or put a Netflix DVD in the mailbox come to mind, and we’d rather not have these kinds of items clutter up our calendar. To meet this need, we tried Yaniv Kalsky’s Beep Me app.
Beep Me is very straightforward to use. You enter the text of the reminder or task in a field that looks like a yellow sticky note and then choose when the alert should sound by specifying a date and time or how many days, hours, and minutes should elapse until the alert. When an alert sounds, you are presented with a push notification dialogue and the option to acknowledge the alert or snooze it.
Setting a specific time and date (left) or defining a countdown period (right)
In the app’s settings, you can set the alert sound, the alert rescheduling interval (snooze time), the wallpaper used within the app, and the app’s badge behavior to show the number of future beeps or missed beeps. A few different alert sounds are also available though you cannot access any custom ringtones or other system sounds here.
Beep Me’s settings (left) and the alert list view (right)
You can view a list of upcoming alerts or switch to a view of all alerts, past and future, and delete items from this list as well. Tapping on an old beep will open up the new alert dialogue set to the current date and time, allowing you to easily “copy” an old alert and use it again.
In Edit mode in this view, you can choose to add any alert to the Calendar app. This brings up the standard new event dialog you find in the Calendar app where you can customize the entry just as you would with any other Calendar item.
Adding an alert in Beep Me to the Calendar app (left) and an alert notification (right)
Using the app to remind us to do mundane tasks not worthy of a full-fledged calendar entry worked well – we saw and heard the alerts to remind us to take out the trash and complete other tasks. Also, we found it quick and easy to set up alerts as needed throughout our day since everything is done on a single screen.
What we missed was the ability to repeat alerts on a regular schedule. For example, for whatever reason we often forget to take out the trash every Wednesday evening and the ability to set an alert to go off every week at 6:00 p.m. for this would be great. To accomplish this in Beep Me, we’d need to remember to manually create this alert at some point every week, which is not optimal considering that we tend to forget about the task in question itself.
This missing ability to create a repeating alert brings us to another issue – the fact that the iPhone’s Clock app can essentially serve the same purpose as Beep Me. We can easily set a repeating alarm in the Clock app’s Alarm section and get a visual and audible alert at the scheduled time plus the option to snooze the alarm. Using the Clock app in this way takes a little more time since it requires going back and forth between a few screens to set the repeat schedule, choose a specific sound, and enter the text to define the alarm, but it’s still very feasible, particularly when Beep Me will set you back $2 and the Clock app is included for free on an iPhone.
Overall, we like Beep Me but without repeating alerts, we wouldn’t recommend you buy it if you need regularly recurring alerts since the iPhone’s own Clock app can offer this for free. However, if you just need reminders here and there throughout your day, Beep Me offers a very quick and easy way to create them along with visual and audible notifications to get your attention. Despite the perpetual presence of the Clock app with its competent Alarm functionality on our iPhones, we did find ourselves going to use Beep Me regularly. It is a well-designed and useful app and if it gets repeating alert capability, it will definitely be a keeper.