iOS’s built in Calendar app is capable, but frequent users will start to see its flaws. Here’s a few iOS calendar apps you might consider for replacing the built-in calendar with something a little more powerful.
For a long time, Fantastical 2 has been a top pick among iOS replacement calendar apps. It brings a number of excellent features into play, including adding events via natural language processing (“Call Allen at 2 PM tomorrow”), iCal and Google Calendar support, integration with Reminders, and Notification Center support.
You can view your appointments in day, week, or month modes, and you can add events to the calendar from anywhere. I particular like that the app is smart enough to add an event to the date that I’m looking at. If I’m inspecting my calendar to see when I’m free and the click the “Add Event” button, it only makes sense that I should add the event where I’m looking. Finally, the built-in support for Reminders is a boon. It’s easy to create to-do lists from the app, and your Reminders events are reflected on your calendar. If your a big user of the Reminders system, this is an incredibly useful addition.
Overall, it’s a strong app that thrives on a well-designed, easy-to-operate interface. The natural language processing isn’t perfect, but any issues are mostly minor flaws. Starting an event with a time (“3:30 Call with Dave”), for example, often doesn’t trigger a timed calendar event, instead booking an all-day appointment. If you make this mistake, fixing it requires you to either delve through the complicated “Details” menu when adding the event, or edit the event right after you’ve created it to input the right time. And finally, the app relies on the clunky iOS date picker. Even after all this time, that interface’s barrel-shaped nonsense irritates me immensely. But none of these things are deal breakers, just minor annoyances.
It’s one major downside of this powerful app is its $5 price tag. Some users might bristle and coughing up a fiver for an app that already exists on your phone. However, power users will appreciate the greater functionality afforded by Fantastical’s system.
Calendars 5 is another strong entry among calendar apps on the iOS system. It’s produced by Readdle, the same folks that make several other excellent productivity apps, and its pedigree shows. It’s a powerful app that can support many kinds of users. It looks good and functions smoothly, with a more streamlined interface compared to Fantastical.
Like Fantastical, Calendars also offers support for natural language processing when adding events. It works well, allowing you to set custom durations and smartly recognizing when “next Saturday” is. Unfortunately, unlike Fantastical, I don’t see a preview of how the event will look when I add it to my calendar. It’s a small thing, but seeing the event in my calendar as I’m adding it has kept my from making more than one booking error. But I do love how simple and approachable the Calendars event-adding interface is. I also love that they’ve ditched the iOS date picker in favor of their own table-view creation, which functions much more smoothly.
Well-designed day, week, and month views include small touches that make the app easy to approach visually. The month view is even useful on the small screen, showing you a preview of the events you have each day instead of just dots, like Fantastical. The Today widget is especially helpful, showing you both the time of your next event as well as the time between upcoming events. Calendars also includes a robust task-tracking system of its own. Like Fantastical’s to-do list, Calendars relies on Apple’s Reminders. You might see this as a plus or minus, depending on how much you like the Reminders system.
The app clocks in at $6.99, making it slightly more expensive than Fantastical. But if your a fan of clean interfaces, there’s a lot to recommend Calendars 5.
If your deep into the Google ecosystem, the Google Calendar app for iOS is a functional and attractive tool. The design makes information easy to track down integration with Google Maps and Gmail makes the calendar extremely powerful. This integration means you can leverage the power of Google’s AI. That AI will automatically add events to your calendar based on confirmation emails you received, and it’s smart enough to pull contacts from your email and locations from Google Maps. And little flourishes, like event icons that are based on event names and keywords, are a nice human touch. Unfortunately, the app is only compatible with Google Calendar, leaving iCloud users out in the cold.
For iCloud users, both Fantastical 2 and Calendars 5 are excellent choices, but they’ll cost you. Google Calendar is a great free alternative for Google users.
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