iPhone app review: Checkmark

iOS’s built-in Reminders app is pretty good, but not great. The location-based reminders are a bit time-consuming to set up and the whole app is pretty basic and doesn’t offer up a whole lot of features. Checkmark, on the other hand, is an extremely intuitive reminders app that takes location-based reminders to a completely new level.

First off, it’s extremely easy to set up any kind of reminder in Checkmark, and there’s two kinds of reminders you can set for yourself: “When” and “Where.” When, for time-based reminders, and Where, for location-based reminders. You switch between the two using When and Where buttons at the bottom of the screen.

For “Where” reminders (location-based), you just add your most visited locations on the home screen, like work, home, the grocery store, your parents’ house, the bank, etc. You can add a location multiple different ways: By using your current location, searching for a point of interest, importing an address from your Contacts, or manually entering an address. You can also choose a radius of a location, so that notifications will alert you within a certain distance that you specify. I found the radius feature to be extremely helpful, since I was able to know far in advance that I needed to pick up a few things from the grocery store before I got near it.

After you add a location, tap on it to add a location-based reminder for that specific place. The next time you arrive there or pass by, you’ll get a notification reminding you of the task you need to get done at that specific location. Any location you add will automatically be saved to the app’s homescreen for future use.

“When” reminders are a little more basic. When creating a reminder, you simply enter in a title (and some notes about the reminder if you wish) and choose the day and time that you want to be alerted. When it’s time for the reminder to be delivered, you get a notification.

There are also other small features that can be really handy for a lot of users. You can sort your location-based reminders by distance, and even delay notifications until after you’ve been at a location for a certain amount of time.

The only downside that I see with Checkmark is its lack of integration with iOS and OS X. Checkmark is only available on the iPhone, so there’s no syncing between multiple devices. Checkmark also doesn’t integrate with Siri, so you can’t just quickly add a reminder in Checkmark using Apple’s virtual assistant.

However, Checkmark’s location-based reminder system is leaps and bounds above Apple’s offering, and I’ll gladly take that over any kind of integration with Apple’s ecosystem.

Checkmark is available in the iTunes App Store for $2.99.

Ask The Readers: What Are Your Favorite iOS Apps and Games?

iOS AppsWe know “Top 10 Apps” lists have been done to death, but their proliferation in tech-based media doesn’t dilute their usefulness, especially in a frequently changing market like mobile apps.

We had planned to exclusively poll the writers and editors of Techerator for an upcoming article series, but realized we’d be cutting out a hugely knowledgeable group of people… Yes, we’re talking about all of you readers.

So here’s what we need from you. In the comments section below, let us know what your favorite iOS apps and games are.

After the comments fill up with responses, we will gather the reader picks and add the favorites to our own choices.

In the end, we’re hoping to have a list of the “best” iOS apps and games according to the Techerator team and our faithful readers.

Here’s a quick recap:

  1. Leave a comment with your top iOS apps and/or games.
  2. We’ll gather the results and turn them into a finished list.
  3. If you like the final product, spread it around.

Thanks for your help!

Need a Taxi? There’s an App for That

Forgive me for sounding like a fanboy, but my iPhone is one gadget that has continued to wow me long beyond the initial honeymoon period.

I have come to take many features for granted – reliable email synchronization, decent Facebook and Twitter apps and a really good camera being just three. It’s the new apps I keep discovering that continue to piqué my interest.

On a recent trip to London I discovered one that impressed me so much that I began to bore my friends by going on about it.

Introducing Hailo for iPhone and Android

During my London business trip, I found myself in need of a taxi. Aware that there are plenty of apps for that, I Googled “London taxi app,” and ended up downloading a fairly new app called Hailo.

After quickly registering my details, the GPS found my location and told me that there were several cabs less than ten minutes away. Two taps and one was on its way.

My iPhone told me the registration number of the taxi and showed me a little photo of the driver. I was then able to follow the car’s progress through the London streets on a map, not needing to leave the comfort of the pub until it was right outside! The driver was similarly able to track my location from the other end of Hailo’s system.

Hailo
Hailo

Upon arrival at my hotel, I paid the driver. By the time the hotel’s automatic doors had welcomed me in, my iPhone’s vibration signified the arrival of an email, which turned out to be my receipt.

I was in London for about a week so had plenty of other opportunities to put Hailo through its paces. On all but one occasion, it had a taxi to me within 15 minutes. The only time it failed was during a busy Saturday night peak period. We were with a group of friends quite far out from the centre of town and needed two taxis. I persuaded a friend to download the Android version of the app. He did – but the immediately managed to snag the only free car in the area leaving me without transport!

The fact that you can see the taxi approaching on the map can be entertaining. One night I booked a car from a client office and the driver got lost in a one-way system. I was able to see him looping around in circles before finding his way to where I was waiting.

Hailo charges no fees other than the taxi meter price, which in London differs from some of the telephone services where the taxis clock up time on their way to you. So effectively, using Hailo is exactly the same as hailing a cab on the street – except you don’t have to set foot on the street until the car is there. This has obvious benefits for the safety of lone travelers and those moving through questionable areas late at night.

At the time of writing, Hailo is available in London, Toronto, Chicago and Dublin. Similar apps are available in other cities. Whether these work as flawlessly, I don’t know – but I would love to hear. If you’ve tried any, please tell me about them in the comment box.

“Batch” is the ultimate mobile photo sharing app for iPhone

In the smart phone era, everyone is an amateur photographer. Equipped with high-def capabilities and nearly bottomless storage, we produce a lot of photos on a daily basis which we’ve opted to share individually on Twitter or in bulk on Facebook. The problem is that sharing full albums with friends requires a bit of effort — downloading to your desktop, uploading to Facebook — why can’t we do it on the go?

Batch is an iPhone app that allows you to easily share large numbers of photos with your friends without needing to make a stop at your computer. Sharing photos from your phone isn’t exactly a game-changer, but Batch is one of the first to offer a way to share many pictures with just a few taps.

Credit: iTunes App Store

The beauty of Batch is its simplicity. A focused design lets you snap pictures, tag friends, and share your albums without any fuss. Friends can leave comments or simply ‘Like’ what they see. Batch allows you to post a link to your albums on Facebook and Twitter for friends to view anywhere. Photos dominate the screen and you can easily flip through pages of your own pictures or albums posted to your feed by friends. Privacy settings are a cinch, letting you make some albums private or share with just a few friends at a time.

The downside? Batch requires a Facebook account for login. But come on, you already have one of those…

Batch keeps your photos safe and your friends updated. If you take a lot of pictures with your iPhone, batch is an absolute must. Photo-sharing apps seem to be the big thing right now, with Instagram and Path making big gains each month, but Batch is the first to perfect the idea of sharing full albums on the go.

Take a boatload of photos, share them with Batch.