Fantastical for iPhone is available today. You’ll probably be hearing a lot about it, and the good words are merited. I’ve had it on my iPhone’s first Home screen for the past 6 weeks. Right now it’s $2 in the App Store, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
There are two headline features: (a) The ability to create an event using natural language. This is the headline feature of the Mac version that won me over last spring. And (b) the DayTicker, which is a clever new way of displaying the upcoming days and events.
Creating an Event
Why does it always seem that I’m in a rush, or that someone is waiting on me when I’m trying to create a new event on my iPhone? Creating new events on the iPhone has never been a particularly easy or quick task.
- The iPhone’s default Calendar app is okay at best when it comes to entering new events, but if you’re not creating an event for the very near future, it can take many taps to get the event created.
- Agenda (a very fine 3rd-party calendar app) has done a good job at making it easier to input a new event, but it is still a somewhat tedious task that requires many taps.
- Siri can be great, but I still find it awkward to use Siri in a public setting, and she doesn’t exactly have a great track record of being accurate and frustration free.
- Fantastical is, in my opinion, the easiest way to create a new event thanks to the natural language parser. But for maximum ease and speed you really need both thumbs available since you’re typing a normal sentence — Skydiving lessons tomorrow at 9 am.
Moreover, if you don’t want to type out a sentence, Fantastical still gives you the ability to create an event exactly as you would in Apple’s default Calendar app.
Calendar Views, the DayTicker, and My Visual Thinking Mojo
Fantastical has something I’ve never seen before: the DayTicker.
Design-wise, the DayTicker is money.
However, as pretty as it may be, I’m still not fully sold on the DayTicker. The way the 5-day ticker slides left-to-right while the event list scrolls top-to-bottom is a little bit jarring. My eyes don’t know where exactly to focus with two lists scrolling in different directions at the same time, and so I often find myself looking back and forth between the two instead of focusing on one list while looking for a specific day or event.
And yet, that’s not to say I’m convinced the DayTicker view is flawed. For me, the jury is still out on this one. And the reason is because I’m a visual thinker. When I think about my calendar I don’t think in dates, I think of a traditional calendar view and the S-M-T-W-T-F-S layout. Sunday is on the left, Saturday is on the right, and Wednesday is in the middle. The DayTicker messes with my mojo by removing the visual boundaries of a traditional calendar view.
What redeems it for me is how quickly you can switch between the DayTicker and the month-view. Pull down on the DayTicker and the month-view calendar will take its place. Pull down again to switch back to the previous view.
Having a quick and easy way to transition between list view and month view is something I’ve always loved about Agenda, and it’s equally great in Fantastical.
Using it day in and day out as the calendar app on my first Home screen for the past six weeks, I’m not ready to say it’s the best calendar app bar none. It’s still a toss up with Agenda, the calendar app I’ve been using since it first came out nearly two summers ago.
What I like most about Fantastical on the iPhone is the design.
There’s no denying that the design of Fantastical is top notch. I love the overall color scheme of deep red, whites, and blacks. The app feels balanced and unique. And there are several little design details that give Fantastical a fun and polished feel.
One of the most notable of the little design details is the magnification within DayTicker. As you slide the ticker left to right, the center-most day get’s “magnified”. This is a great touch.
Another detail: when creating a new event, the words you tap in animate in to the calendar view below. This gives you a visual cue that what your typing in is getting entered into your calendar, much like it is with Fantastical on the Mac.
It’s these little things in the design that make Fantastical feel professional and refined. This is easily the best-looking Calendar app on the iPhone and it’s a welcome addition to iOS.