[App Fridays] Shifu - a nag of a reminder app (which actually works)


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I studied away from home. My father used to have a reminder on his phone's calender to call me every day. Now this isn't something that you find in people's calendars, so out of curiosity I asked him why he had that. He told me, "When you start working, you'll do that same for me." Well, what he meant was that when you're busy with work, you often forget these things.

A good few years have passed and nowadays, I get a sound earful everytime I visit home because I hardly call them. Being inherently disorganized, I'm not into the habit of maintaining a calendar. I've tried many smartphone applications to try and sort out this issue and today's App Friday is going to try and help me out. Will it?

Well, here's this week's App Friday, Shifu.

What is it about?

The homescreen

Shifu is a personal assistant app, which helps you record reminders with respect to time, place and some activities. Here are some use cases for the app -

1) General time based reminders - Remind me to call mom/dad/girlfriend at 7:00 pm every day.

2) Location based reminders - Say you're visiting a cafe for the first time and you really like it, you can set a reminder to remind you of this place the next time you're in it's vicinity.

3) Activity based - Currently, you can set reminders based on networks you're connected to (WiFi, 3G etc) or when you're on a call with someone.

In the process, Shifu does something obnoxious as well - it displays these reminders on your phones home screen. I hate that, but it is definitely one the most effective way of reminding me.

The homescreen reminder display

Another reminder app? 

I might be a little biased against reminder apps; I still don't think a disorganized person will become organized because of a reminder app. It is a mindset problem of not caring for the more mundane but necessary tasks of life. These tasks pile up and your life becomes a mess (trust me, I know).

However, a nag, who holds you accountable has been the closest to getting me responsible and organized. I get the same feeling with Shifu. For things that I haven't attended to, it makes sure that I know about it with it's homescreen reminder. It's ugly, but at least it gets me back into the app to get rid of the reminder notification. Sometimes, I even do the tasks that it reminds me to do.

Pros and Cons 

Location based reminder

The biggest pro with Shifu is that it has realized what it takes disorganized guys like me to take it seriously. Apart from this, it is feature rich and some of the activity based reminder options are pretty cool and I hope more activities are integrated with Shifu. For example, reminder on using an app excessively (game/social media etc) would be a neat feature.

Activity reminder - call

The app is data and sensor intensive and there is a visible drop in battery performance that I've experienced since I installed the app. However, this is something that the app developers might want to be wary of. Furthermore, if there was a prettier way of displaying notifications on the homescreen, it would be greatly appreciated.


Our take 

I have a good feeling about Shifu. It's one of those apps that brings about some change in your behavior. Yes, it can be done in a prettier way (still not over the homescreen thing), but it works. If the features on Shifu are on other apps as well, it definitely have not been made as easy to use as it is on Shifu.

Battery is definitely a concern. But you'd expect that with an app that does so much depending on the radio and sensors. This flaws usually get solved with the next iterations of the app.

Disorganized? Download Shifu today.