Calvetica, The Minimal App That Reinvented Calendars On My iPhone

In my quest to searching for the perfect Google Calendar setup on iOS and OS X, I've already stopped by the gates of miCal, a full-featured calendar software for iPhone that could use some UI refinements, but allows you to swipe between lots of calendar views in seconds. miCal isn't exactly elegant or "great-looking", but it gets the job done.

When I first asked on Twitter which was the "app to have" when it comes to calendars, practically everyone replied with one word: Calvetica. What's the deal about Calvetica? I had heard about it before I went asking on Twitter for calendar app suggestions, but I had never really focused on exploring its functionalities -- nor did I bother to download it for that matter. So when I got all those recommendations (even from people I deeply respect and admire such as Dave) I realized it was time to try the Helvetica-based calendar thing.

A week later, I'm completely addicted to the features and interface schemes offered by Calvetica. Do we already have a winner here? Read on past the break to find out.

Calvetica isn't your usual calendar app. First, it doesn't want to show off its features just for the sake of convincing users it's a powerful app: the features are there, they're not hidden but they aren't purposelessly shown off either. They're gently integrated in the navigation flow of the app, they are deeply involved with the creation of new events -- Calvetica basically doesn't get in the way with itself. You'd be surprised to know how many apps do. Everything is kept simple, elegant, minimal, Swiss.

Which leads me to the second point of my argument about Calvetica Vs. The World: if you like over-complicated designs and overly pseudo-realistic interfaces, you should stay away from this. As the name indeed suggests, Calvetica is built on a strong typographic foundation which starts from the assumption that Helvetica is the best typeface ever designed. Perhaps not the most suitable or likely to be appreciated by the average iPhone user, but most definitely one of the examples of why men are really capable of doing great things when they want to. Calvetica doesn't get in the way with itself but loves itself and the typographic details it belongs to. You can act on interface elements such as the top day bar to customize them to your own taste with exotic color names such as "knife fight pink" and "calm and peaceful red" but everything is ultimately aimed at allowing you to enjoy the elegance and minimalism of Helvetica, in a calendar application.

The main screen of the app is a monthly view with all your days and dots above them to represent the events you may have created. The year's written on top, months are listed below it. The active month is colored in red. One thing many users don't know: you can swipe on the year to change to past or future years -- very neat. I love how days are automatically re-arranged when you change year or month, the animations are very cool. In this screen you can do three things: open a specific day view; open the Today screen; check on upcoming notifications.

By default, a specific day screen is a vertical list arranged by hour with all your events. At the top, right above midnight, there's an All Day button to quickly add an all-day event. You can also switch to a more compact view to check on upcoming events, or to an event-only view if you don't fancy scrolling through hours at all. To navigate between days, tap on the arrows in the bottom toolbar. Or just like in the dashboard, a single swipe on the day at the top will do it. To create a new event, all you have to do is double-tap somewhere and start typing. To view the event's details, it's just another tap on the item you've created. Here you can enter some notes and a location, adjust the duration of an event bly sliding days, hours or minutes up and down (cool) and set repeat times.

Calvetica works for me because it's simple and fast. It's faster than Apple's calendar app, and it syncs to Google Calendar almost immediately after the creation or deletion of an event. Not to mention the week view: by putting my iPhone in landscape mode, the app adjusts to display a sexy grid with week days and associated events. You can swipe to change between weeks, but you can't select a single day in landscape mode. From the app's development page, though, it appears that the developers are planning to roll out a full-featured week view in version 3.0, together with bug fixes and a "secret feature". An iPad version will eventually come as well.

Calvetica's biggest selling point is that is a minimalist and elegant app that grows so much on you in a matter of a few days you'll be completely be addicted to it before you'll even notice. It fits right in my workflow, it addresses the navigation issues that don't allow me to use Apple's calendar application and, yes, it adds some always-welcome eye candy to the mix. There's nothing wrong about admitting that Calvetica looks great.

Make no mistake, though: Calvetica is more than pretty graphics and typographic love. It is, at least for me, the best calendar application currently available on the iPhone. In the next days I'll take a look at more calendar solutions and apps you recommended, but as far as my workflow is concerned -- my quest ends with Calvetica.

Available in the App Store at $2.99.