iPod alarms are funny

I’ve been having a funny problem with alarms on my iPod that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere.

I use iCal’s alarm system to send text messages to my phone to remind me of certain appointments and commitments. Some of these are recurring events, like my evening C++ class and my older son’s basketball practices. When I connect my iPod, iTunes syncs my Address Book contacts and iCal schedule to the address book and calendar in the iPod. I don’t use my iPod as a PDA, but it never hurts to have an extra copy of that information.

The text messaging works like a charm. No matter where I am, I get a reminder of my appointment some time (I usually choose an an hour) before the event. The first time this happened, I was a bit surprised that my iPod didn’t alarm. but I figured that maybe I hadn’t set some option on the iPod and so the alarm didn’t go off. That was OK by me, because I wasn’t planning on my iPod to act as the reminder.

Six hours later—five hours after my appointment—my iPod beeped at me and put up the reminder message. It was 11:00, and it was telling me about the appointment I had had at 6:00. Weird. And the next time I had an alarm set for a recurring event, the exact same thing happened.

I spent a little time today investigating this and found that it only had this six-hour delay on recurring events. The iPod beeped at the right time for one-off events. Since, as I said, I don’t want to use my iPod as a reminder system—unlike my phone, I don’t carry it with me everywhere—this isn’t such a big deal for me. In fact, I’ve found and set the option for turning off alarms completely (Extras>Calendars>Alarms>Off). But it’s still goofy behavior, so I filed the following bug report with Apple.

This is a problem that crosses three products:

  1. iCal 2.03 (1055), which is where I believe the problem lies;

  2. iTunes 6.0.2 (23); and

  3. iPod mini 1.4.1

A repeated event is set up in iCal and an alarm is set. The iPod is connected to the computer and iTunes syncs the iCal calendar to the iPod calendar. The event, and all of its repetitions, display correctly (with the right day and time) on the iPod, but the but the alarm beeps 6 hours after it should. The alarms on the computer beep (or send an email or whatever) at the correct time.

Alarms for individual (i.e., non-repeating) events beep on the iPod and on the computer at the correct time.

My timezone is US Central, which is 6 hours from UTC, and I suspect the 6-hour delay in beeping on the iPod is related to this setting.

The beep on the iPod occurs at the wrong time regardless of the setting of the “Turn on time zone support” option in iCal.

I think this is a vestige of the problems iCal has had with timezones in the past. We’ll see what comes of the bug report.