Friendly reminders

My vision of myself as a powerful thinkfluencer in the Apple world took a real beating this week. It seemed as if everyone who got a HomePod was complaining that it couldn’t set multiple timers. This is something I’ve written about a couple of times, going back four years. And I’ve explained the solution. Is this thing on?

Of course, four years ago, I wasn’t talking about the HomePod, I was talking about the iPhone, but the principle is the same. In iOS, the timer function is in the Clock app, and there’s only one. There’s no way to have two timers running simultaneously and no way to give your timer a name that lets you know what it’s for.

But you do have Reminders. They have names and can be set to alarm not only at an absolute time, but also at a relative time:

“Hey Siri, remind me to check the casserole in 20 minutes.”

Casserole reminder

This works on my iPhone, iPad, and Watch, and I assume—based on this article—that it would work on my HomePod if I had one. This is clearly Apple’s preferred solution to setting mulitple timers, each with a distinct name.

So I was frustrated to hear John Gruber and Paul Kafasis in the latest episode of The Talk Show complain about the multiple timer problem. They should both know how to use Reminders to solve this problem. So should Myke Hurley, who made the same complaint in the most recent Upgrade.

I understand where they’re coming from. If you’re an Amazon Echo user, you’re probably in the habit of saying something like

“Alexa, set a 20-minute timer for the casserole.”

Habits like that are hard to break, especially as you get older.1 But Apple users should be used to the idea that Apple has strong opinions about the right way to use its products and you’re usually better off not bucking the system.

You don’t like cluttering up your Reminders with hundreds of “check the casserole” and “check the tea” items? Even though you typically don’t see completed reminders? There is a solution.

In the past couple of days, the HomePod complaint industry has moved on from multiple timers to white rings. Cheaply made leather circles are already coming onto the market, but I’m going to suggest that high end furniture protection should come from lace doilies with tatting that complements the HomePod’s fabric pattern.

  1. Myke is 30 now, so his brain has lost much of its former plasticity.