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Just Due It: Persistent Notifications for Tasks

I hate it when I miss things I’m supposed to do. Although I have a good memory, I can forget things and miss notifications due to being either distracted or too focused. That was part of why I wrote “A Call to Alarms: Why We Need Persistent Calendar and Reminder Notifications” (11 May 2023) and started using In Your Face (see “In Your Face Provides Persistent Notifications for Events and Tasks,” 26 June 2024).

Helpful though In Your Face is, it suffers from one major problem—it runs only on the Mac, and I’m not always at my Mac. In contrast, my iPhone is nearly always in my pocket, and when it’s not, my Apple Watch is on my wrist. Is there an iPhone app that would provide persistent notifications I can’t ignore?

In the comments on my original article, numerous people recommended Lin Junjie’s reminder and timer app Due, which offers iPhone ($7.99) and Mac ($14.99) apps. The iPhone purchase includes iPad and Apple Watch apps; the Mac app is also available via Setapp. The iPhone and Mac apps seem functionally identical and sync data via iCloud, so you could create and manage reminders on the Mac while receiving notifications on the iPhone and Apple Watch. But the iPhone app can stand entirely on its own, and I prefer it. Purchasing the iPhone version of Due gets you a year of feature updates; receiving future features after that requires a $4.99 per year subscription.

Due’s claim to fame is that it repeatedly notifies you about outstanding tasks until you mark them as done or reschedule them. It’s nearly impossible to ignore Due, and many of its controls revolve around managing its reminder notifications. (I won’t address its timer capabilities—ad hoc access to timers on the Apple Watch via Siri meets my timer needs.)

Due’s main screen lists past, present, and future reminders and provides + buttons for creating new reminders. It supports rudimentary natural language entry, so you can type “Pack first aid kit for workout tomorrow at 5:45 PM,” and you’ll get a reminder set for 5:45 PM tomorrow. Alas, it doesn’t understand natural language repeat options like “every Tuesday at 5:45 PM,” and you must tap to confirm that it understood what you entered.

Due's main screens for the iPhone and Mac clients

Since I use Apple’s Reminders heavily, I first opted to import my reminders from there. In its settings, Due lets you import reminders individually, which is more helpful than it sounds because not all reminders benefit from persistent notifications. You can also turn on Auto Import for specified lists in Reminders. And yes, the fact that you can import from Reminders means that Due maintains its own database of tasks, rather than syncing with Reminders.

For new reminders, Due presents an interface that might be helpful for those who regularly create reminders, but I find it convoluted. Tapping the gray date-and-time bar (below left) brings up a picker (below right)  that requires you to switch between date and time; there seems to be room for both on the same screen. Or you can tap one of the four preset times—9:30 AM, 12 PM, 6:30 PM, and 10 PM—and then adjust that time up or down by tapping the plus or minus buttons below. For instance, you could set a reminder for 11:30 AM by tapping 12 PM and then -10 min three times. Obviously, this is all optional, and Due recommends its natural language parser.

Creating a new reminder in Due

The core of Due comes in setting auto-snooze intervals and repeats. If you have to take some necessary medication every morning at 8 AM, set the auto-snooze to every 5 minutes so you can’t possibly forget for long. I have a few reminders that I set to every 15 minutes, and that’s annoying enough—I set most to hourly because their timing isn’t that important. Due’s custom repeat options are quite flexible; it should be able to handle whatever you need.

Setting snooze and repeat options in Due

In actual usage, Due works as you’d expect. When the clock ticks over to a reminder’s time, Due posts a notification. Ignore it, and Due will keep notifying you on the auto-snooze schedule. Tapping a notification opens the reminder in Due, where you can mark it as done or edit it, but I prefer to touch and hold the notification to bring up quick actions associated with the reminder. Most of the time, I’ve accomplished the task, so I tap Mark Done, but on occasion, I use the +1 hour, +3 hours, and +1 day options to put off future notifications for a while. The Apple Watch notification is similar, with a Mark Done button and buttons to push off future notifications by 1 or 3 hours.

Notifications in Due

I must admit to some ambivalence regarding Due. It absolutely does what it promises, and if you have tasks that must be completed regularly, particularly those with important timing, Due could be an essential assistant.

However, as much as I use it for a handful of regular reminders, it does not come close to my desired alarm notification type. Issues I have include:

  • No calendar events: Due manages reminders, not calendar events, so if you wanted persistent notifications for calendar events, you would have to create separate reminders in Due. That’s more work than I’m willing to take on, especially since Tonya and I rely on shared calendars. It’s also my main problem with Due—it can’t pretend to be an iPhone version of In Your Face.
  • Weak Siri integration: Much of the reason I use Apple’s Reminders heavily is because it’s so easy to tell Siri on my Apple Watch, iPhone, or HomePod, “Remind me to pack the car at 6 PM.” Although Due has some Siri support, it has issues on the Apple Watch and runs into trouble because Siri can’t parse the word “Due” well. I tried but couldn’t get Siri to work acceptably. That’s another dealbreaker for me—if it’s too hard to create a reminder, I avoid doing so and try to rely on memory.
  • Most reminders don’t need persistent notifications: For most reminders, I like how Reminders notifies me once and leaves the notification on the iPhone’s Lock Screen. I use my iPhone frequently enough that I repeatedly see those notifications until I mark them done. Due has been useful primarily for repeating tasks I can’t delay long—I appreciate how Due nags me every Monday night to make sure I have already published TidBITS. For typical reminders, however, the repeated notifications are just annoying. Once I realized this, I moved some reminders from Due back to Reminders.

While I’ll keep using Due for certain reminders, most of my needs don’t fit well with its capabilities. Your mileage may vary. If you don’t need persistent notifications for calendar events, don’t use Siri to create reminders, and aren’t already a big Reminders user, Due’s persistent notifications can ensure you never forget to do something on your list.

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Comments About Just Due It: Persistent Notifications for Tasks

Notable Replies

  1. I’ve been using Due for a decade on iOS. Its two best features are a variety of alert sounds (including usefully noisome ones) and the ability to auto-repeat alerts/alarms as often as every minute.

    This made it my default wake-up alarm, and I use it for items I’d otherwise put in Reminders in case I am worried I might miss an alert or I might be away from my phone.

    I bought the Mac app too, but I have stopped using it, because sync only works when apps are running. (At least on macOS Ventura, which is the latest version my home iMac runs.) It became very annoying to complete an item early on Mac or iOS then get the alert at the set time on the other device, because sync had not taken place immediately.

    I have long considered Due indispensable, but only because Reminders (which I switched to after encountering similar sync issues described for Due) has relatively anemic alerts sounds and auto-snooze/repeat functionality.

  2. I’ve tried various reminder apps and – at least for my way of living – using Microsoft ToDo is sufficient for keeping track of my tasks and projects. I don’t need many reminders.

    I have to wonder if the constant dependence on notification apps increases a person’s anxiety and stress. Than agin, for people with a busier lifestyle than mine, that may be a necessary requirement (the reminders, not the stress [grin]).

    Along those lines, has anyone seen a reminder/task list where the categories are: “Must do”, “Should do”, “Could do”, and “Maybe”? I think this would be good task categories.

  3. I took up using Due many years ago after getting sick of Reminders 1. not syncing consistently between ios and mac (the same as every other apple syncing thing), and 2. dropping events off the list after some period of time (days or weeks). I wanted my list of reminders to persist until I’ve completed the thing.

    I highly recommend Due, and it has cool sounds.

  4. I have an issue where iOS won’t thump my iwatch when I get a text. I keep trying to find the settings where this might be enabled and I think it should be from what I can find. I think reminders and calendar notifications will work for me. Thanks for the article.

  5. Thanks for this, @Ace.

    Yes, the biggest issue with Do really is the fact that it’s a closed silo: no interoperability with the rest of the system and other platforms, even when your system Reminders come from CalDAV. It’s one trick really is the notifications pestering. Apple really should just add this as a feature.

    Slightly related but I have had occasion recently to explore the various push apps that have user-facing APIs for sending notifications to your devices, and Pushover seems to be unique in having the feature of “Emergency” pushes, which can (at your option) bypass all Focus controls and any setting of the mute or volume controls, and which repeatedly recur for a specified length of time at a specified interval until it’s acknowledged. You could plausibly use this functionality to implement “Just Do It” notifications of your own design, complete with automatic launch actions. Just an idea you might consider, if you’ve the motivation.

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