Fantastical 2 Review: Added Functionality and Updated Design Make it One of the Best Calendar apps in the App Store
It’s a new year! Start the new year with a calendar app and boost your productivity.
In the past, I’ve used countless calendar applications to help me keep track of my ever-evolving schedule and reminders. Each one tried to fill a supposed hole in my workflow that quite frankly found me wanting something more, especially since most of them were sort of gimmicky and not all too helpful. However, I started using the original Fantastical when it came out, and it quickly became my go-to calendar application.
As with a lot of other applications, once iOS 7 was released, things started looking a little stale. The typical skeuomorphic tendencies we grew so used to became a bit annoying and distracting as the world was moving to a more flat design preference with its technology. Also like a lot of other applications, Fantastical has completely revamped their app from the ground up to coalesce with the new design aesthetics of iOS 7, not to mention the increased functionality it brings to the table. One of the difficult things to do in a redesign of this caliber is to retain the plucky and undeniable usability the original had to offer, while also bringing something new warrant excitement. Developers have to figure out ways to make that functionality translate, and oh boy did they ever with the release of Fantastical 2.
One of the best features of Fantastical 2 is that it combines both the Calendar and Reminder functionality into one app. Launching the app for the first time will ask you to give it access to your calendars and reminders, to which the answer should be quite obvious. Doing so will allow any calendar and reminders you’ve added into iOS 7’s Settings app to work seamlessly with Fantastical 2, importing previous events and reminders. Beyond this, you’ll eventually see the main attraction, which is the app’s gorgeously designed calendar.
Dressed in white with a red status bar at the top, you’ll have indications for current month and year, as well as access to your settings and creating new events. In the calendar portion, you’ll get a quick five day view of your upcoming events. Tapping each specific day will bring up that day’s events and reminders for you to either see more information on, or check as completed. You can go further in your timeline by scrolling the days to your left or right, going back and forth.
However, if you want to glance at a date further into the future without scrolling side to side, simply pull down on the calendar to reveal the month long view. It’s a nice little touch that offers a quick solution, and once you’re in the month view, you can select your date as needed. A nice added touch gives you the ability to bring about the search function, and you access it the same way you would toggle between the two calendars, except you don’t pull down as much this time. From there, you can search your events and go to them by keywords and dates. Below the actual calendar is the DayTicker, which takes up the rest of the screen with information on events and reminders in your calendar. Past events will be dimmed slightly, so you can differentiate between what’s coming and what’s not.
While there are a lot of new and exciting features, the important familiar ones remain. If you ever find yourself lost in your own schedule and want to return to “today”, simply tap the red status bar at any time. If you want to jump to a specific date in another quick manner, you can tap and hold the red bar, and it will bring up the scrolling meter that allows you to input the date you want to go to. Adding to the already numerous ways to find specific days, you can actually scroll up or down in the DayTicker until you get to the desired date. In doing this, you’ll notice the calendar at the top correspondingly moving with you, giving you an obvious means for seeing where you’re at.
Creating events is simple, and can be done in just a few short taps. You can tap and hold anywhere in the calendar view, or tap the plus-sign (+) and begin putting in your information. Type in the event, a description, date and time, and location. Typing an event in everyday language can also be translated by the app into a more robust event, making it easier for you to create said event. For instance, if you type the following, “Lunch with Amanda at Brio on Thursday at noon”, the app will create an appointment titled “Lunch with Amanda” for 12 p.m. on Thursday, and then put “Brio” in the location portion of the event. It’s a delightfully smart and user-friendly way to create an event, and makes the process rather quick and painless.
What makes the app so useful is not only the functionality, but the ease of which you’re able to perform its tasks. There is a slight learning curve at work, but that’s something that can be said of nearly any workflow-driven application. However, once you put those skills into place, everything runs rather smoothly and seamlessly. Now it doesn’t feel so burdensome to put in a task with plenty of information, whereas before I felt like I was spending wasted minutes trying to get that done. With the ease of use afforded to the user by the input functions, I’m able to give those simple commands that create a very detailed reminder and event. This is key for me, because I don’t always have the time to stop and type in a whole thing, with tap after tap being necessary to get all the information in there. While things can get confusing if you skip the tutorial, the developers offer a help and FAQ section in the settings that should guide you along the way.
Let’s not forget that the new design brings about a very pleasing aesthetic that makes things fairly obvious for new users, yet still retains that power-user feel you’d want from a calendar app. In addition to the ease of use. The interface is just dandy to look at and interact with, which is something to be said for an app of this nature. A lot of task and calendar apps aren’t known for their interface and general design, which is a shame because the genre is ripe for innovation and thoughtful design. Fantastical 2 does a nice job of bumping up the bar that’s been set by its predecessor, and my hope is that developers of other like apps take notice and head back to the drawing board. With iOS 7, there are so many new opportunities and possibilities to take advantage of, and I think Fantastical 2 does an excellent job of showcasing just how that can be.
For my uses, I’ve yet to find a better app than Fantastical 2, so I give it a healthy 5 out of 5 stars, and a wholehearted recommendation.