Have trouble remembering to take your pills on time? Or a relative who forgets them? These smartphone and tablet apps could help prevent under or over-dosing.
Free on iPhone
The biggest advantage of DoseBox is that it does what it says, and is very simple to use. Add your medicines and the times that you need to take them, and it will remind you. It even has a pillbox-like display showing you what medicines go when – morning, noon, evening and night.
This might be cuter perhaps if it actually recognised the drugs and provided more appropriate and accurate icons – instead, all tablets in the app are round and white, for instance. On the other hand, it is safer if the user needs to touch the appropriate marker in order to know which pills to take, rather than relying too much on an app that says "take a round yellow pill". In any case, you can opt instead for a list of your medicines, along with their due times.
The one caveat is that DoseBox does not do repeats for you apart from the daily one. If you need to take something four times a day, you must add it four times under that medicine's entry.
Free on Windows Phone
Another mobile-only app that allows you to set up medicines with reminders. You can also add the dosage and a note to each medicine, for example to help remember what each one is for. It is pretty basic – there is no drug name look-up, for example, so it is up to you to enter the names correctly.
On the plus side, it was one of the very few apps we encountered which lets you add multiple user or patient names as well as multiple medicines, then set timed alarms. That could make it useful for carers. Used in this way, it also provides you with an overview of each person's usage as well as the option to receive reminders at set times and dates.
The one notable downside of this and the other mobile-only apps is that if there is no online backup, you risk losing your data if you lose your phone. The one exception is if you are the sort of sophisticated user who backs-up your app data and then syncs it to the cloud, which probably also means you need a rooted phone.
MediSafe Meds & Pill Reminder
Free on Android and iOS
Designed to let you sync within a family as well as use stand-alone, MediSafe makes good use of the mobile phone's graphics. It creates a virtual daily pillbox, showing what is in the current quarter of the day. When setting up a medication, not only does it suggest from a list of names as you type, but you can also configure the colour and shape of the image to match the real thing.
You can log in via Facebook or set up an account directly with MediSafe, your settings and schedules are then backed up to a cloud server that meets US regulations for healthcare security. As well as adding other family members as local users, you can set up what the app calls med-friends – these are family, friends or carers who will be notified if you forget a pill once they too download the app.
On Android, MediSafe's reminders can be customised and even sent to an Android Wear smartwatch. A weekly report keeps track of what you did and didn't take. The MediSafe Project also has business solutions such as analytics to give anonymous insight into medicine usage, adherence, effectiveness and so on. The aim is to identify consumption problems and reduce the risk of patients skipping doses or even double-dosing by mistake by helping health and drug companies communicate with patients more effectively.
Free with ads, or 60p on Android
A simple reminder for Android, with the added bonus of an on-screen widget, it lists your upcoming medicines for the day and optionally reminds you when they are due. Click on the reminder, and it also keeps a history of what you have taken. You can view either your list of medicine schedules, the upcoming medicine alarms, or your in-app medicine history.
MedRemind can store up to 20 prescriptions, with up to four dosage times for each one. If you need to take something more often – every four hours, say – you can set the repeat to be more frequent. For example, setting 2am, 6am and 10am on a 12-hour cycle will also give you 2pm, 4pm and 10pm reminders.
Alarms are also highly configurable, as usual with Android, so you can set the notification sound, LED colour, the vibration pattern and so on. One caveat is that the (sometimes dodgy) ads are right next to the add-new and settings buttons, making them easy to click by mistake. In addition, while the app pops up an 'Add new medicine schedule' message, this is not clickable. Instead you need to press the unlabelled icon at lower left.
free with ads or 77p (£1) on Android
A mobile-only reminder app for Android, the free version is ad-supported but not intrusively so. You can add pretty much anything you want to the Pill Organizer list, along with details of how many to take and when. There is no spelling check or list of names medicines included, nor is there an option to specify the delivery method as it assumes everything is a pill, but you can easily add this to the name.
As well as the option to pay to remove ads, there is a slightly more expensive Pro version – this adds themes, notes and a lot more flexibility in how you set up alarms, such as options for auto-snooze and to disable alarms during phone calls.