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Toggling iCloud for Reminders may force it to sync. Using your target device, go to Settings > iCloud and turn off Reminders. You will be asked if you wish to keep or delete your lists. Tap on Keep[…] and then turn Reminders back on and tap on Merge. This should force Reminders to sync on your target device.
If toggling Reminders’ iCloud settings doesn’t work, try signing out of iCloud and then sign back in again. Refreshing your iCloud authentication can sometimes force Reminders to sync. You can sign out of iCloud by tapping the Sign Out button at the bottom of the iCloud settings screen. Keep in mind that signing out of iCloud will remove Photo Stream photos and iCloud documents from your device. They will still reside in iCloud, but you will need to download them again. Confirm that you would like to sign out of iCloud. After you sign out, the same screen displays fields for your user ID and password. Enter your authentication information and tap on Sign In. This should force Reminders to sync.
Alternatives to Reminders
If Reminders’ syncing problems are too frequent to be acceptable, it may be a good idea to look for alternatives. You don’t have to use Apple’s stock apps, and many third-party developers provide better alternatives.
Clear is one of the most popular alternatives to Reminders. I purchased the app when it first came out, but it was already too late for me. I had Reminders lists with over 300 items, and at first, Clear did not sync across devices. I needed the ability to create a list on my iPad and sync it to my iPhone. As the app evolved, they eventually supported iCloud, enabling users to sync across devices.
Clear is not only more reliable, but also aesthetically pleasing. The UI has an innovative look and feel. Users can easily manage lists using simple gestures. It’s smooth and intuitive, not clunky like Reminders. Unfortunately, since Clear relies on iCloud for syncs, it suffers from the same issue as Reminders. One of the first reviews in the App Store voices frustration that the sync feature doesn’t always work. It’s not the developer’s fault. The sync issues are caused by problems with iCloud.
You may be better off just sticking with Reminders. I do think that Clear has fewer defects than Reminders and is much easier to use. Beyond the sync issue, Reminders can be a little quirky when it comes to editing and creating lists. Clear is much simpler and more intuitive. I also think it looks better.
Apple Needs to Improve App and Service Quality
Unless you are a hopelessly delusional Apple fanboy, you probably realize that Apple doesn’t create excellent apps. Reminders is just par for the course. I haven’t found much love for any Apple first-party stock app. Some of them are downright horrendous. Although there was a furor over Maps, it actually isn’t that bad, and wasn’t that bad when it launched. Sure, it isn’t as good as Google Maps, but it is still much better than most car navigation systems on the market. Beyond Maps, however, Apple has a gruesome history of launching troubled apps. I found Apple Music to be so bad, I stopped using it shortly before the free trial expired. I moved on to Spotify and then to Google Play Music. Both are vastly superior to Apple Music.
Even Apple’s services leave much to be desired. iCloud seems to have syncing problems. It doesn’t matter whether you use Reminders or Clear, both list management apps use iCloud and they both have the same problem.
I like Apple’s devices. I think the iPhone is the best smartphone on the market. Unfortunately, Apple’s apps and services are not very good. I strongly recommend Apple device owners to seek out third-party alternatives for critical apps. Don’t wait until you have too much invested in them. I have too many long lists in Reminders to move them elsewhere. I am stuck with it. It works most of the time, but those sync failures often happen at the worst possible moment.