I've been on a serious search for a calendar that I can actually use for a better part of the last ten years.
I've tried paper organizers, post-it notes, writing on my arm, and so many mobile apps. Yet, no matter what I do; I can't seem to settle on one. This begs the question: What makes a good Calendar?
- Timezone support
This seems like it's a fairly straightforward feature, but changing a computer’s time zone (in the Date & Time system preference) changes the time stamp of every item—past and future—in iCal. There are two approaches to timezone management on the iPhone. You can turn "Time Zone Support" off, which will ensure that events in your calendar are displayed using the current time zone setting for the phone.
Alternatively, you can manually set the time zone of your calendar to the place you are visiting. Watch out though–this is a global setting which will affect all events in your calendar.
- It has to work with the right tools.
(GCal, Exchange, iCloud, etc) Both inbound and outbound. If the calendar app can’t interface with the calendar syncing service you’re using It's going to mess with the other locations that you need it to work. No GCal support? You'll probably miss that WebEx meeting you were invited to. No Exchange support? You'll probably miss the meeting in the conference room. No iCloud support? The conference call you scheduled for 7am didn't show up on your phone and you forgot to call-in on your way to work. It's going to sound silly, but I also want Facebook integration so that I don't miss a birthday or event invite because I'm over in GCal buried under TPS report meeting requests. I think that it also goes without saying that it has to sync over-the-air with all of the other services to keep everything up to date.
- Meeting Scheduling
This one is difficult, because not a lot of services offer this functionality. Google's GCal has the find-a-time tool in the web interface and it's incredibly useful. This would still be a difficult one to resolve because it requires access to the other person(s) calendar(s) to show available/busy times. Google is able to handle this with a fair amount of anonymity by allowing users three different levels of privacy. Public, where anyone can view your calendar and events. Busy only, where others can only see when you are busy or free. And Private, where they can't see anything. Companies that use Google Apps can also set it so that Calendars are all shared internally as free/busy only.
Easy and quick to add new events
Natural language parsing is neat, but if I can enter a basic description, date, and time, that's good enough for me. I'd love the option to add information like an address, a contact name, a conference call number, notes, set up recurrence, set alerts if I have the time. If I'm in an elevator and I'm talking with someone and need to set and event quickly before I forget something important, the calendar has to be able to handle that.
- Multi-language support
It seems silly to have to say it but contacts, locations, and events happen in other languages. A good calendar has to be able to handle 日本語だぜ！
- Platform Agnostic
A good calendar can't be siloed to just one platform. If I'm on a train, I'm going to want to use my phone, If I'm at my desk I'm going to want it to work on my Mac and my Windows machine, If I'm using a hotel Kiosk I want it to work with the browser.
- Task Management
Although not essential, this is extremely useful to help manage workload alongside the schedule.
- and FFS... it has to be elegant.
No one wants to use a calendar that they don't even want to look at. Design is and has always been as important as the technology itself and as it becomes more prolific in our lives. Connected devices and the web have fundamentally changed the world's relationship with design, but compared to other aspects of information technology, design can be much harder to quantify. Developers more often than not, still build for technology's sake and the human piece is an after thought, so much so that the UI is often confusing enough that mass scale adoption doesn't happen.
I think that at this time... Fantastical 2 is the best available option.
I found the perfect calendar when I was in College but it's designed for students and doesn't work as well outside of academia. It's called iStudiez Pro (Yes, pluralizing with a z. Gross.)
The iStudiez Pro app does so many things right. Apple should take notes here because this is what proper skeuomorphism should look like. There are skeuomophic elements like the chalkboard, and notebook on the iPad app that add a sense of familiarity, but still retain that clean UI design. The first thing that you are presented when you open the iStudiez app is the today tab. The Today tab displays events on the calendar in chronological order, separating them into Past, Now, and Next items. This feature is the one that I miss the most on all other calendar apps. This allows me to glance at the app and instantly know where I need to be and where I will need to go next.
The calendar tab on iStudiez is perfect. The screen is split in half, with a month view on the top, and color coded dots on each individual day that represent a class or event in the category of your choosing. The month view has red flags for important events or tasks, and paperclips for assignments. When you mark all assignments as completed for the particular day either in Calendar or Assignments view, the paper clip will disappear from the respective day in Calendar view. However, completed assignments do not disappear totally from Calendar, they will still show up on the days they belong, only will be marked as completed. This sounds like it would become cluttered, but it's just right. Below the month view is all of the events for the selected day in a list view with more specific time and location information. Touching any date on the calendar grid will let you see the expanded list of classes and exams with all related details below.
iStudiez is probably one of the only apps that is a must-have on my iPhone. It’s the first application that gets installed on a new install of iOS or OS X. If you are looking for a seamless way to manage your academic life, check out iStudiez Pro.