Fantastical Review: Apple, Please Make this app the Default Calendar app on the iPhone
Calendar apps are aplenty in the App Store and depending upon your taste any one of them may be better than the stock Calendar app. I’ve never found one that ultimately dethroned the built-in convenience of the stock app; but now that I’ve tried Fantastical for iPhone, my days with the stock app are over. Fantastical nails the calendar experience in a way that’s so good, I wish Apple would buy them out and make Fantastical the core iOS Calendar app.
In terms of basic functionality, Fantastical works like any other calendar app. You can enter events, set them up to alert or repeat, sync with things like Google calendars and iCloud, etc. Where it really shines is in two areas: in the way you enter your event data, and in the way information is delivered.
Event data is entered through a useful and well-honed “natural language function”. You type in a real-world sentence like “Meeting with Chip from 9am to 11am” into the entry field, and Fantastical automatically figures out you want to schedule a Meeting with Chip in the 9am – 11am slot that day. If you’re in a hurry, that’s it — type one line and the item is there for you later.
Using Fantastical’s easy entry feature is the typing equivalent of telling Siri to schedule the appointment. Like Siri, it will assume things by default (set the meeting for “Busy,” set it for an hour if no end time is specified), and you can change or add details once the item is created. But for on the fly scheduling, it’s a great convenience, especially in situations where talking to Siri isn’t practical or desirable. [And if you do want to talk to the app, just use the dictate function on the keyboard.]
The second standout here is the so-called DayTicker, the name of Fantastical’s way of delivering calendar info. This split-screen display gives you the days of the week along the top, along with colorful bubbles indicating scheduled events (the longer the bubble, the longer the event) while a color-coded list of event details appears beneath it. Scrolling either one scrolls the other with it, and tapping on any day or event brings up those details. Want to see a whole month? Tugging down on the days automatically pulls down a monthly calendar. Want to go back to the day view? Tug down the calendar.
I’m finding it difficult to express the ease with which this thing works in words, but trust me, it does. It’s fluid and intuitive and visually appealing.
Now, if only Apple would see this app for what it is and buy it outright; this needs to become the default calendar for iOS. Because if there’s one complaint I have with this, it’s just that: I can’t use it as my default calendar app. Calendar alerts will always open up Calendar by default; Siri will function through Calendar first; It doesn’t show the current date in the app badge. I want Fantastical to be my only calendar app; but Apple always keeps Calendar in there as my iPhone’s middleman.
I also wish the app integrated Reminders. I would like to have everything in one list without having to fake work-arounds like setting an “All Day, Open” event for a reminder that I know is in my Reminders app. There’s got to be a way to make this happen, Flexibits!
Despite the few limitations, I love Fantastical. Eventually, everyone falls in love with a third-party calendar app, and this one is mine. It’s definitely worth a look.
Our Score: 4.5 out of 5