by Brian Heilman
So you have an iPhone and feel you have outgrown or just don’t like the default iPhone calendar app. There has to be more right. But looking through the 3rd party apps is a crazy sea of confusion with each looking very similar, after all they are all still calendars right. So how do you decide what to try? Well let me give you a few tips.
And yes, full disclusure, we make a couple of the top choices but we will try to stay impartial as there are a lot of great calendars out there.
Obviously this is an important one. If you don’t like interacting in the way the calendar wants you to, or it doesn’t give you enough choices for views to see all of your data clearly and concisely then it probably isn’t your calendar. We have found that most people like to use either a Month type view, a week view, or a list of days. And rarely switch. So figure out which one you are, and find the app with the offering that best matches what you want to see.
And some people visualize their data better in several ways. Just showing text on the calendar, or associating icons to their events, or using blocked timelines, or just dots to give a cleaner look. And the use of colors can be key to really link up visually what events will be for certain categories or family members or however you organize your schedule.
When interacting with your events take into consideration features you might need or want to make things quick and easy. Things like drag-n-drop to quickly reschedule, advanced repeating event options, templates that quickly make often used events, emailing events, natural language entry, and so many others are all key features that ultimately having just one of these might be the reason why you go with a certain calendar.
And remember that, as far as looks go, in some cases what the developer chose for a default color theme might not be all that’s available. Always check out the settings as theming might be available and allow you to choose the look you really want.
Some people just want a few more key features or a different main view and don’t need a power user type calendar, figure out if that is you.
Data is key here. Do you want to be exclusively using Google Calendar events? Do you want to be using the developer’s proprietary databases for events, or should you shoot for Apple’s data only.
One of the key considerations for this is syncing. Apple’s data is a good choice in that you can actually setup what is synced in many ways including with things like Exchange, Facebook, and Google in their own settings app. Then this data just syncs via Apple, and is not being handled by the developer. A safe choice but with a few limitations.
If companies are using straight Google or their own systems, then they are also re-writing and handling the sync, which could be a good thing, or could be full of problems, or something you may have to pay extra for, or syncing could just not be available at all.
The main draw of some calendars including some of the more organizer based ones are that the app has other forms of data integrated in. Some may just add reminders into your calendar and show them in the days they are due right along with your events. Others show weather, so you can see what it is supposed to be like as you plan your week. Both extremely handy and can be done without being overly intrusive.
And then the planner type apps go beyond this. Tasks and Reminders with their own views that can quickly be switched to events. Contacts to use as a full address book and help in the creation of events and reminders. Birthdays showing pictures of your contacts right in your calendar. Lists. Notes. Todos. All with search that can check your events along with the other data for what you are looking for.
These full planners can be pretty powerful.
So options can be the key to getting what you want. Once you try an app, don’t be afraid to dive into the settings screens. Getting your calendar to look the way you want might involve flipping a few switches and setting a few colors. Not everybody wants to see ISO week numbers or see only timelines or have the week day start on Tuesday. But if you do, hopefully the settings allow for it.
There is a push in apps to not give you as many options and dictate to you want you want. But in calendar apps, hopefully this is not the case. The developer can’t possibly always know exactly what you want to see and do, calendars can just be complicated.
A big feature found in most good calendar apps is filtering. This is a way to show you only a certain set of events or data. Most offer a way to turn off and on the calendars on your device in a setting screen. But some go beyond that and allow you to quickly do it from your main screen, or be more advanced and filter based on privacy or assigned categories/tags. It makes looking at a calendar so much better if you only want to see your work schedule, your child’s activities, or your sporting event times.
6. Smart Calendars
Ok, so what is this. Well, these are apps that are trying to take it to the next level of integration, with the added catch that to do some of it you need internet and you are giving them all your data. So keep that in mind.
They can add some cool features, but in testing some of their technologies are so new and try to make educated guesses about your schedules or locations or contacts or … and are completely wrong, making the features not only useless, but also very in the way. Some people like to be guinea pigs..
How are they making money? Could it be by eventually selling all your data? Could it be that they will go for a subscription model after getting so many users? Eventual Ads? It is just something to think about.
But some are well done apps that if they have what is right for you and you don’t have any concerns, they might be worth a shot..
Obviously price is a key. Just remember that this is not a game, and paying a couple dollars more might make you that much more productive and organized. That little extra will be worth it for you in no time if you find the right calendar.
But watch for things like subscriptions and/or the possibility that if an app is free that somehow you might be the product(selling your data, or eventually ads or…). These factor into what the total price will end up being.
There are some free offerings out there that allow you to try out the calendar before you go all in on it. Its always a good idea to bargain shop if you don’t know what you want, as even just trying these choices might give you an idea of what the pricier apps are offering you..
Oh, and watch for if it is Universal… Or if they charge extra for that. This alone might be the main reason to go with a certain app for you.
So there you have it. I hope this helps you in finding a great calendar app for your iPhone. We’d love it if you considered our Extreme Agenda line of apps if you want a full organizer or try The Grid calendar for FREE with a lot of the more powerful features, but in a more streamlined approach.
Thanks, and happy calendaring.