It’s rare these days that I encounter an app with a user interface that surprises and delights me. I encountered one such app this morning called Gestimer, written by Martin Nguyen ( @imaddin ).


The app is specifically for creating short-term time-based reminders. The basic idea is that you drag the menu bar icon down to create a reminder. The further down you pull, the “farther out” in time the reminder is set for. Release the icon and you’re prompted for a description.

I’m absolutely in love with the elastic-band metaphor. It works very well in this context for several reasons:

  1. Time-based reminders are really just tags/annotations on a moment in time. You really want to enter this information by time first, annotation second, so that first property of your reminder should be the focus of your quick creation UX.
  2. The time will always be in the future. That is, you don’t set a time-based reminder in the past so there’s no “negative” time (it’s from “now” to some arbitrary point in the future). In this case, “now” is at the top; drag far away (here “downish” is the only “away from now” direction) for “far from now”.
  3. Short-term time-based reminders are usually relative. For example, my laundry is a floor below me. I often don’t hear it signaling the end of a cycle but it tells me on its display how long the cycle will run, so it’d be nice to create a quick “n minutes from now” reminder without resorting to a calendar entry or the task-list-centric Reminders app (which forces me to mark it completed). I don’t want to cycle the laundry at exactly some time on the clock; I want to check it “45 minutes from now”.

My first instinct, though, was to suggest to Martin (a friendly guy who proclaimed to me by e-mail, “If the Mac will die then I shall die with it :P”) that moving the icon left and right should maybe add and remove days. I checked first to make sure this wasn’t already a feature and happened across his FAQ. In it he emphatically states the app is for short-term reminders. While I can respect this, I can’t help but wonder if that’s its strongest angle.

In my mind, Gestimer’s strength is in the idea of “relative-time reminders” vs. task- or absolute-time-oriented reminders. Gestimer is already very useful here for short-term reminders but I think this limitation as a design goal holds it back from being hands-down the best app I’ve seen for the rapid creation of one-off, relative time-based reminders in general. I feel like “a few days from now” is still “short-term” and falls within the usual range of time for which I create such reminders. It would be great to see this left/right-days feature be added.

In any case, it’s a wonderful little app and Martin is getting a lot of well-deserved positive attention for it. Congratulations!

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