App review: Remember the Milk

Tuesday, 24 April 2012 12:06pm

Our digital technology and online media team have tested the usability of various task management apps for blind and vision impaired users. Due to the inbuilt accessibility features found in iOS devices, only apps available on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch have been reviewed.

Below is a review of Remember The Milk version 2.0.2. The app has since been updated and users have reported decreased accessibility on the iPhone.

There are plenty of task-based apps available to download for the iPhone, but not all of them are accessible. The appeal of task-based apps is their ability to help us manage our lives on the go. Remember the Milk is a task app that works with the iPhone’s inbuilt accessibility software, including VoiceOver and Zoom for users who are blind or vision impaired. But the most appealing accessibility feature is its integration with voice activation software Siri on the iPhone 4S.

Functions

Remember the Milk (RTM) is a task management app which can be used via the Remember the Milk website or the RTM app for iPhone.

RTM is a lot more sophisticated than the Reminders app that comes with your iPhone. You can group together tasks by adding them to a ‘list’. It is this simple principle of using lists that makes RTM easy to use – you can see how many tasks you have left to do on each list at a glance. You can also add notes, tags and different priority levels to each task. You can also attach locations to tasks which mean if you’re in an area that is picked up by the iPhone’s global positioning system (GPS) as being nearby, it will alert you to the task with the associated location. For instance, if you need to buy milk, you can program the app to remind you when you pass the corner shop.

Tasks can be viewed in a daily format, weekly format or as an inbox with different lists or groups of tasks. When the due date or time for a task to be completed approaches, you are alerted through sound, vibration and screen pop-ups on your phone.

To use the RTM service, users are required to create an account on the RTM website. The free account allows you to sync your tasks to your iPhone once per day. Syncing of tasks and notes is unlimited on the ‘pro’ account which costs $25 a year.  

Orientation

When you open up the RTM app, at the top of the screen is the date, an edit button and an ‘Add task’ text field. The ‘Add task’ text field is where you can create a task and manually type detail or use the Smart Add feature to select from a list of options and create a task in one line.

At the bottom of the screen you can change the viewing format from ‘today’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘this week’ and lists. You can also view your list as tasks that are ‘incomplete’ and tasks that are ‘completed’.

Accessibility comments

The good news for VoiceOver users is that there are only minor accessibility issues with the RTM app, and they are very easy to work around. We’ve provided some tips and tricks for avoiding these issues later on in the article.

The other standout accessibility feature is that RTM is the only task app other than Apple’s Reminders app where you can add tasks using the voice activation software Siri in iPhone 4S. Once you have set up Siri to work with RTM, you can use it to create tasks which are immediately added to the RTM inbox. You can access those tasks online via the RTM website or via the app.

We found that VoiceOver doesn’t announce when all your tasks are complete and the task list is empty. However, the ‘No task’ indicator is on the fourth line so users must swipe through to the fourth line before VoiceOver announces there are no tasks left to complete.

An interesting feature is Smart Add which allows you to use symbols or syntax to create tasks in one line in either the RTM app or website, email or Twitter. The Smart Add feature lets you assign a task to a list, set levels of priority, add tags and assign a date and location. This is particularly useful as it allows users to add detail to a task in one step.

When you type in the allocated syntax to add detail to your task, a list of options appears. You can then add the relevant detail to your task by selecting from the list of options. For example, the ‘^’ symbol brings up a list of options for adding details of the due date below the ‘add task’ field. You can then select a day, for example ‘Wednesday’, and this due date will be attached to your task.

More examples of syntax or symbolscan be found in the Smart Add feature section of the RTM website.

Accessibility tips and tricks

If you use the text field at the top of the screen within the RTM app, you can only add a task name but not add any other information, such as assigning it to a list. Instead, add a task using the add task button which is further down the screen after the tasks lists. This will take you to a new screen that allows you to add a task name, assign the task to the list, add a priority, tags and other additional fields. VoiceOver doesn’t announce the elements that allow you to enter these details as editable text fields or buttons. If you create a task using this feature, be sure to double-tap through the fields listed under the ‘Add Task’ menu so that you can add detail to your task.

If you would like to set a specific due time to a task, you can do this through the ‘edit’ feature. Once you have selected the task that you need to assign a due time, select the ‘edit’ button and go to the ‘Due’ field. You can set the date through the ‘picker’ (which is the date picker wheel that is a general feature of iOS used for assigning dates and times) and follow VoiceOver’s instructions to swipe up or down to adjust the value. Adding a specific time to a task will allow you to receive alerts as reminders of when that task is due to be completed.

Cost

Free to download.

Free account users are limited to synching once per day. Pro account users have access to unlimited synching for US $25 per year. 

A full list of the app features can be found on the RTM website.


Top of page