In this Ask the Admin, I’ll show you how to set up location-based reminders in Windows Phone 8.1 using Cortana.
Getting things done and organizing tasks is one of the toughest challenges in modern life, especially with so many distractions providing the perfect excuse to procrastinate for as long as possible. The problem with to-do-list apps and reminders is that they are time based. ‘Remind me to buy dog food at 10am on Monday’ is only useful if you happen to be at the store at 10am on Monday morning and not sitting in front of a screen in the office.
As a result, time-based reminders get dismissed until they become annoying enough to be ignored entirely. Something much more useful would be: ‘Remind me to buy dog food when I’m next at the store.’
The Cortana voice assistant found in Windows Phone 8.1 can help you keep tabs on your location-based events. (Image: Microsoft)
The Cortana personal assistant app in Windows Phone 8.1 enables location-based reminders. At the time of writing, Cortana is only available in the US, but is expected to roll out to other major markets by the end of 2014.
Cortana uses two technologies to enable location-based reminders. The first is places using the built-in Maps application. I would recommend that you mark as your home, work and any other places where you get things done on a regular basis as favorites, such as the local mall or store, to save having to search for them when setting up reminders.
Secondly, Cortana uses geo-fencing to determine when you move from one location to another. This is not quite the same as simply determining your current location using GPS, as we often do with the Maps app, but detects when you arrive to or depart from a place.
It’s easy to create location-based reminders using Cortana. In the instructions below, I show you how to set up reminders manually, and then using speech recognition.
The new reminder will now appear on the remind me screen, and Cortana will alert you when you get near to the place set in the reminder.
Now let’s tell Cortana to do the same thing using speech recognition. For this to work, you will need at least one favorite marked in the default Maps application. In this example, store is already set up in the Maps app.
In principle, you can tell Cortana ‘Remind me to buy dog food when I get to the store’ in one go, but I prefer to do it in sections to make sure each part is understood.