One of the things I like most about having an iPhone in my pocket at all times is its capability to remind me of upcoming events. Not just one-time events, via the Calendar app, but recurring events, via the Clock app’s alarm. I have alarms set to wake me up in the morning, remind me when Tristan should be done with breakfast so he can get to the school bus in time, tell me when I need to leave to go running, and make sure I don’t forget to pick up Tristan at his fencing class each week.
But there’s one common need that the Clock app’s alarms don’t serve: alarms that repeat multiple times per day. Due to a minor injury, I recently wanted to remember to take ibuprofen every four hours, but that turns out to be complicated to set up in the Clock app, especially because the starting time varies each day by when I take the first dose, and if I take a dose late, I need to adjust the times of all the later doses.
Luckily, there’s a clever app to solve just that problem, and even better, it’s free. HabiTimer, from Sciral (the same people behind Sciral Consistency; see “A Not-at-All Foolish Consistency,” 10 September 2002), lets you create multiple alarms, each of which can trigger a push notification alert at multiple specified times. So, it’s easy to set it to remind me to take ibuprofen every four hours, or to remind me to get up out of my chair every hour. Arrow buttons let me move all the reminders by an hour (the up and down arrows) or 15 minutes (the left and right arrows) so I can rearrange the schedule to match a new start time or missed event.
Perhaps the only slightly confusing part of the app is that new alarms are all called “My Alarm” by default. To rename an alarm with a name that will make sense in its push notifications, tap the gear icon in the upper right corner of the reminder time screen.
HabiTimer 1.0.1 is free, and requires iOS 4.0 or later. It runs on the iPad, but only in iPhone app-emulation mode, where it looks somewhat bitmapped.