Fantastical for Mac, originally released in 2011, redefined calendar apps for OS X and my idea of a modern calendar client.
Developed by Michael Simmons and Kent Sutherland – together known as Flexibits – Fantastical pioneered features and design choices that, with time, have become a staple of other calendar apps and OS X utilities: natural language input is now expected in popular todo apps and services; the OS X menu bar has grown into a popular destination for desktop utilities; integration with multiple calendar services in a single app is now a de facto standard.
Fantastical was a powerful calendar assistant. Four years later, Flexibits wants Fantastical 2 for Mac – their latest creation years in the making – to be the only calendar app you'll ever need. While the original Fantastical was a companion to the full Apple iCal experience, Fantastical 2 reinvents itself as a full-blown calendar client that retains the most important aspects of the app's debut and adds a whole new calendar interface to the mix. And in the process, it exudes the finesse and attention to detail that Simmons and Sutherland are known for.
In 2011, Fantastical raised the bar for modern calendar interaction. Fantastical 2 builds on that solid foundation, bringing design changes and new functionalities that will define the evolution of the Fantastical family.
Fantastical, developed by Flexibits, has long been one of my favorite calendar apps for iOS. Since the app's first release over three years ago, I've come to expect my calendar to support natural language input; after the launch of version 2.0 for iPhone, Fantastical showed me why I wanted my todo list to be integrated with the calendar with excellent and seamless support for iCloud calendars and reminders in a unified experience. Reminders, however, turned out to be a problem for me as I switched to Todoist earlier this year: I've started using Sunrise – which is a great app – to see my events and todos in a single list, but I'm constantly missing Fantastical's natural language support, advanced features, and polished design.
Fantastical 2.2, available today on the App Store, brings iOS 8 features that allow the app to be more easily integrated with iOS workflows thanks to a share extension and that extend the app beyond its silo with actionable notifications and a widget.
Released last week, Fantastical 2.1 is a pretty big update to my favorite calendar app for iPhone and iPad that brought the usual variety of fixes and improvements, snooze options for notifications (which I don't use, as I rely on native iCloud alerts), and other enhancements such as upcoming birthday and new event invitation notifications. Being on vacation prevented me from preparing a review in time for the update's release (it turns out, this is not an ideal spot for good 3G coverage), but I still wanted to focus on three additions to Fantastical that I'm particularly fond of.
In my review of Editorial 1.1, I covered the app's new support for x-callback-url and how it improves inter-app communication. In hindsight, I left out a fairly obvious demonstration of the feature: the possibility to create workflows that send multiple items in a row to other apps. For this post, I'm going to use Fantastical as an example.
In my review of Fantastical for iPad, I didn't mention some of the gestures supported by the app. Gabe Weatherhead has collected all these handy gestures and shortcuts in a single post.
Gabe also created an Editorial workflow to use with Fantastical and TaskPaper, and Pedro Lobo offers a similar solution that works with entire TaskPaper documents.
Ever since Apple introduced Reminders in 2011, I’ve been looking for a truly great app capable of combining my todos and calendar events in a single, coherent interface. Fantastical for iPad, released today by Flexibits, is that app.
Based on the solid foundation of Fantastical 2 for iPhone, Fantastical for iPad expands the app’s functionality to take advantage of the larger screen while retaining intuitive features and powerful advanced options. I put Fantastical in my dock when I received the first beta in November, and I wouldn’t be able to go back to using Apple’s Calendar and Reminders apps on my iPad.
Last night, Flexibits released version 2.0.5 of their Calendar and Reminders client Fantastical 2, and there are a lot of improvements worth noting. Search is much faster for me (I use the feature several times a day) and URLs in the title of events can now be tapped; you can send birthday or invitee text messages via WhatsApp, open links in the 1Password browser, and there are new sounds for events and reminders if you use Fantastical's notifications. I like the addition of 1Password support because if you use Fantastical to remind yourself to pay bills, you can log into websites securely and easily with the 1Browser, launched from Fantastical.
Fantastical 2 remains my go-to app to manage my schedule and todos, and it's only $3.99 on the App Store.
I recently realized that I wanted a way to quickly save photos or screenshots as todos, and being Fantastical 2 my todo manager (with Reminders) and Launch Center Pro the fastest way to take pictures and upload them to Dropbox, I combined them in two workflows.
I made two simple actions that mix the Launch Center Pro and Fantastical URL schemes to save a Dropbox image link as a reminder in Fantastical. You retain the ability to type natural language in a Launch Center Pro prompt, and Fantastical will also automatically recognize the URL and put it in the URL field of a reminder.
Some details worth noting about the actions:
- The first one lets you take a new photo; the second one grabs any image from the Camera Roll;
- Both actions will upload an image to Dropbox in the Photos/LCP/ folder; you can change this once you install the action;
- Fantastical is set to create a reminder for the received text through the
reminder=1 flag in the URL scheme.
Getting all the encoding right was a bit tricky at first, but the actions should work without any further configuration on your end. Feel free to modify them: with my basic structure in mind, you can replace Fantastical 2 with Drafts, Dispatch, or any other app that can receive text via URL scheme. I just find it handy to be able to quickly save photos in Fantastical as tappable links, but the workflow is really up to your imagination.
You can download the actions here:
With the release of Fantastical 2 for iPhone, using the Mac app revealed an annoying bug that I either hadn't noticed or just forgotten about: you couldn't assign due times to reminders created inside the app.
The bug has been fixed with version 1.3.11, available on the Mac App Store. You can now write "todo Buy Zelda at 5 PM" and Fantastical will parse every piece of your command correctly. In the process, Flexibits also fixed some iCloud-related errors, which I've been noticing in the past few weeks.