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5 New Features That Make the Reminders app More Useful

The Reminders app has evolved from a basic to-do list into a complete task management system. Reminders has unique capabilities with deeper integration with Siri and other aspects of iOS and iPadOS.

Plenty of third-party apps in the App Store have powerful task management features, but with Apple steadily adding new features to the built-in Reminders app, you might reconsider using a third-party app.

Now in iOS 17, Apple has added five more new features that could turn it into the only task manager most people need.

Grocery Lists

While you can type on the keyboard to add your groceries to the list, adding new items using Siri, reorganizing lists, and even checking things off on your Apple Watch is easier. Reminders using location-based features pop up when you are near the store.

Now you can designate one or more of your lists as a dedicated Grocery List and have it automatically sorted and organized.

Your iPhone’s machine learning will automatically move your grocery items into categories. It’s pretty intelligent but may not get everything right.

If Reminders gets it wrong, you can drag and drop any item to place it in the correct category, and over time Reminders will learn from this to better organize your items.

This organization syncs with the Apple Watch, so you can see it on your wrist while at the store. You can access the list on your iPad or iPhone and even use a new interactive widget on your Home Screen.

To designate a list as a Grocery List

  • Open Reminders
  • Tap Add List

  • Give your list a name and icon
  • Choose List Type 
  • Right now, there are three options
  • Standard
  • Groceries 
  • Smart List
  • Choose Grocery List

Now start adding things to the list; as you do, they will be categorized. 

You can also categorize already populated Grocery Lists.

  • Open the Reminders app
  • Push and hold on the list you want to categorize 
  • Tap Show List Info

  • Tap on List Type
  • Choose Groceries
  • Tap Done

Your list should automatically be categorized. 

Organize Reminders into Sections

While Reminders will automatically organize your grocery list entries, you can create similar headers in any standard list. Organizing your task, however you’d like.

Sections can be expanded and collapsed. Reminders can be dragged and dropped between sections, and entire sections can be moved by dragging and dropping them elsewhere in the list order or using the new Manage Sections screen.


Sections are unique to each list. They’ll appear in all Smart Lists but not in Today, Scheduled, Flagged, or any other smart lists you create on your own.

Sadly there is no way to use section headers in smart lists. Hopefully, this will change.

View Reminders in Columns

As the name suggests, Columns let you view your reminders in separate columns organized by section.

Depending on how you use sections, this would allow you to build a Kanban board, showing each stage of a task. Or simply zeroing in on a specific aisle of the grocery store.

Complete Reminders Using a Widget

Widgets are becoming interactive throughout the entire operating system. Apple has chosen the Reminders app to showcase how this works. Now, tapping a reminder in any widget will immediately mark it as completed without opening the Reminders app. The completed reminder will remain visible briefly if you change your mind before smoothly disappearing.


Early Reminder Notifications

One of the limitations of reminders was being unable to get advance notice of a task. You could set a date and time, but that only triggers the reminder when it comes due.

With iOS and iPadOS 17, you can set an Early Reminder for any task with a due date. The due date can be anywhere from one minute to 200 months before a task is due. There are some reasonable defaults from 5 minutes to one month for quick selection.

If you have a two-day early reminder for a task due at 7:00 p.m. on Friday. The early reminder would show at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Tasks with only a date will use the all-day reminder time from settings.


As you can see, the Reminders app got a nice update. With its integration into the Apple Watch, Reminders became much more helpful.

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