To say that Apple’s Calendar app in iOS 7 has faced a mix of reactions would be putting it mildly. I’ve had friends who are desperately looking to switch back to iOS 6, all due to an intense hatred of what Apple’s done to the calendaring app, which many people rely on to manage their busy lives. Chief among the complaints has been the removal of list view. In iOS 7, you can see your list view by tapping on the search icon, but you cannot add events. It’s a quirky fix, if that. From missing features to continued complaints of excessive white space and thin fonts that impact readability, it’s left many seeking alternative calendar apps in iOS 7. Thankfully, the App Store is brimming with some great options, some which are free. Here are the best calendar apps for iPhone.
A free alternative to Apple’s calendar app, Sunrise was originally released with support for Google Calendar users only, but has since added support for iCloud. The app allows you to connect multiple accounts including LinkedIn, Foursquare, Twitter and Producteev. If you either login or connect your Facebook account, Sunrise will display Facebook Birthdays and Facebook Events. For those of you who have multiple calendars (work, home, Facebook), these can easily be hidden in the Visible Calendar settings. You can also turn off a category within a calendar.
The main view in Sunrise shows the the upcoming two weeks. You can pull this view down to extend it to a month, but it’ll reduce the visible space for your list. Today and tomorrow display icons to represent the weather, along with the current temperature. The two week calendar sticks to the top of the screen, changing as you swipe up from the bottom moving later in the year. Sunrise shows every day in this view. If you have only a few sporadic events over the next few weeks, you have to scroll through days where your schedule is free. Scrolling is fast and a small dot allows you to quickly hit important days. Tapping on the red arrow icon quickly brings you back to the today view.
Events have color coated circular icons. Birthdays feature a circular avatar of your friends and family member, pulled from Facebook. The app looks at home in iOS 7 utilizing plenty of white and gray, using colors to highlight your appointments and events. At the top is the ‘sunrise’ icon that will show invitations from Facebook. I found it distracting and although I could disable invitations, there is no way to remove the icon which seemed out of place.
Sunrise is a very capable calendar app that integrates nicely with Google, iCloud and Facebook. The interface is clean, well-done, but navigating by month uses animation that can be distracting.
Sunrise (free) is available for download in the App Store.
Where this app differs from the others is in its ability to find and organize what you need for meetings. Tempo can find relevant emails, but requires a POP account, which limits the effectiveness of this feature. When you create an event, adding attendees provides for added options within list view and meeting view. From list, tapping on a contact brings up their photo and icons to message/email or call. Full contact information includes address that will open up Maps. By default, Tempo recognized that I had Google Maps installed and set it as my default app. Email can also be set to default to Gmail in preferences.
If you select a meeting, Tempo provides a set of actions that should come in handy. Tap on the messages icon, brings up the contacts contact numbers for sending a message or email. If you are running late, you can tap on the clock icon and select the number of minutes up to 30. Tempo will send a text to the attendee using either the preset text or a custom message you set. A sharing option will create an email with the details, handy if you want to share or invite a colleague.
The main navigation menu at the top left reveals a number of choices for your main view. If you select week view, it’s easy to pinpoint where you have time blocked off in your schedule. Month view leaves the lower half of the display free to show events. On the monthly calendar, they are denoted with an orange circle. Tap on a day and you can see a list of events. If you want a pure list view, that option is also available. The ‘Agenda’ view provides a list of your appointments for the day. Event specific screens and Agenda pull photos, although I’m not sure where they are sourced and did not have any tie-in to my life or surroundings.
Tempo is a sharp looking calendar that is fast and will appeal to those in corporate settings with busy meeting schedules and multiple attendees. The contacts tie-in with features like quick-SMS “running late” options could prove very useful.
Tempo Smart Calendar (free) is available for download in the App Store.
The first version was among our list of the best paid apps for iPhone. This follow-up was released as a new stand alone app, bringing much of what was great about the first release, namely support for natural language. You can type an entry that says, “Meet Michael for lunch on Thursday at 1.” Fantastical 2 will create an appointment, without you have to add a date or even time. It appropriately guessed that my lunch was not at 1 am in the morning. If you select a day in the calendar and start adding a new appointment, as you start typing, Fantastical 2 shows a timeline below with other events that are happening on that day. It’s a subtle, but helpful reminder of what’s happening and would certainly prevent any overlap of meetings. Contacts from your Address Book are also easily added. Once you appointment is set, selecting it will bring up phone message and email icons. These are all in the iOS 7 motif.
Throughout using Fantastical 2, it’s hard not to be impressed with beautiful design and tightly implemented animations. All of which are done without a heavy hand. It certainly looks at home in iOS 7, but the developers haven’t got caught up in the seemingly endless trend of overly white backgrounds that make it difficult to read. At the end of the day, people use calendars for productivity and they use them throughout their busy days. Readability is important and Fantastical strikes a wonderful balance between modern iOS 7 friendly design and a UI that’s easy on the eyes. For those who want an all-white background, that option is here in the settings.
If you loved ‘List View’ in the iOS 6 Calendar app, Fantastical 2 is the app for you. It combines list view with either your week or month view. The text is large, white and set on a black background. Swiping down on the calendar allows for a quick change in views from week to month or back. Events are denoted by small circles. Week view shows them in color strips based on how you’ve got your categories labeled. Fantastical lets you navigate by swiping through the calendar or through the list, with the other keeping pace. If you prefer to have dates that have no events attached to them, that can be set in options.
There are no predictive capabilities (address book, Maps) when setting a location for an event. That’s easily forgiven when you look at how great it looks within the event. You can literally navigate the map or tap on the arrow to start navigation in Maps from your current location.
Fantastical 2 is the perfect mix of beauty and function. It’s the calendar app that should have shipped with iOS 7. It doesn’t bombard you with features. While it might not appeal to those looking for soup to nuts, it’s a fantastic upgrade from the iOS 7 calendar app.
Fantastical 2 ($2.99) is available in the App Store.
Pocket Informant Pro
Pocket Informant wants to be more than just your calendar app. If you are serious about productivity, PI offers features that has tremendous appeal to those who are looking to replace their Day Runner. It goes well beyond basic events, meetings and adds a GTD features including tasks and notes.
Creating tasks within Pocket Information is feature rich, with options for setting the percent completed, tagging, action and priority. You can attach contacts to tasks, add images, take photos and make it a child of a parent task. Task management alone is powerful and it’s just one aspect of this app.
Notes is an equally powerful component. Built-in is a rich text editor. Notes can be grouped into individual notebooks. Like tasks, notes can also be tagged or starred. A built-in voice recorder allows for audio notes. When you complete a note, you can pin it to a date.
This application has similar grouping of how you view your events, tasks and notes. You can select List, Day, Week or Month. Day view lets you switch between today and tomorrow. It provides you with a 12 hour view. Tasks reside at the top of the hourly view in your planner. In month view, you can view the first 15 characters of a task or event, where as most apps shy away from going this route, opting for an option that might look better. At times, it’s useful but sometimes it does not display enough characters to properly distinguish events. Pocket Informant can look busy and it’s not shy about presenting information, all of it. I suppose this would benefit from the added real estate of an iPad or perhaps a bigger iPhone should that happen next year. From any view, either tasks or events can be created.
Having owned my share of DayRunners, I see how the endless array of options and integration of tasks, notes into a calendar app would resonate with productivity users. The developers off a free 100 page user guide and any one hoping to make the most of their purchase are encouraged to download it. They also offer a guide for 99 cents on how to get the most from the app. Pocket Informant has a learning curve, but if you in the market for a calendar that supports GTD, this app will be time and money well spent. If you want weather added, the developer offers it as an in-app purchase. Given the high cost of this app, I felt the additional charge for weather was unnecessary. It’s only $0.99, but for an app that feels so insanely complete, I would have liked to have seen weather as part of the core app purchase.
Pocket Informant Pro ($12.99) is available in the App Store.
Readdle have packed a slew of productivity features in with Calendar 5. As the name would suggest, they’ve been pounding away at updates for years and the product shows a profound level of refinement, despite its support for complex features. Calendar 5 syncs with local iOS calendars, Google Calendar and it also supports syncing with Apple’s Reminders app. This app combines a powerful calendar with task management.
Like Fantastical 2, there is support for natural language input. On the topic of entering events, I found the interface and method of adding events to be superb in Calendars 5. You can either tap on a date or time, or select the plus sign at the top right. Visually, the app recedes a bit, showing nothing but your entry and the keyboard. As you start typing the date/time appear just below your entry. Tapping on it brings up a grid with dates and times. It’s all beautifully designed, quick to enter and you can easily toggle an option for all day events. Once entered, Calendars 5 provides you with options to add attendees and invites. There is a section for a description which acts like a ‘Notes’ area for your meeting. There is a location setting, which presumably uses Apple Maps integration to predict the location of your meeting. It would be nice to have some sort of tie-in with contact addresses. Finally, alerts can be set, also using the wicked fast grid of boxes, with options for sending email, SMS in addition to a standard alert.
Navigating your calendar view is accomplished by tapping on the menu bar and switching between List, Day, Week or Month. The week view is done particularly well, lining up your events in sequence. Tapping on an individual event brings up all of the information you could need, including an option to open up a location in Maps. In day view, you are provided the contacts email address should you need to fire off an email regarding the meeting, but it lacks some of the nifty capabilities of Tempo to send a quick message to an attendee. Whichever view you select, I found one of the standout features of Calendar 5 was the calendar scroll at the bottom of the screen. It works brilliantly regardless of what view you are using.
Calendar 5 is a showcase of minimalism done right. It’s not overly stark like the default stock app. A polished interface that focuses on usability.
Calendar 5 ($5.99) is available in the App Store.
If you have complaints about the iOS 7 calendar app, this is a perfect opportunity to migrate to a much better app. A move to any of the above shouldn’t impact how you manage your calendars on your Mac/PC. When deciding between these applications, you should base your decision on what you need from your calendar app. Are you looking to replace the stock app with a similar feature set or do you want expanded capabilities that include tasks, notes and a true GTD environment? There is plenty of feature overlap between these apps, but there is still a good amount of differentiation through either design or options. Available for free, Sunrise and Tempo are worth trying, as they may be a perfect fit for you. Fantastical 2 is an exercise in beauty and function, I suppose a vision of what a perfect stock app could have been. Calendar 5 manages to tick a lot of boxes for productivity users and does so in a way that won’t overwhelm, while Pocket Informant Pro achieves its goal of being the software equivalent of a DayRunner. All of great calendar apps that will serve you well. Which one will you choose?