Calendar apps are ones that most people check more than they use. More often than not, all I need from my calendar app is to know what’s happening today. Many people go a step further, combining their tasks with their schedules to plan their days, making quick checks of their calendars even more crucial to their work day. Fantastical has both kinds of users covered with its latest update.
We’ve covered Fantastical many times over the years. The app is well-known for its excellent design, which matters when you have a packed schedule to navigate. Choice also matters because the way people view their calendars and tasks varies a lot. Fantastical 3.8 builds on the app’s rich history and succeeds with the latest advances in widgets and watchOS design by offering a deep set of 17 Home Screen widgets, eight Lock Screen widgets on the iPad, and five StandBy widgets, all of which are impeccably designed.
My favorite is Fantastical’s medium-sized Home Screen widget, which includes a monthly calendar on the left and the weather, events, and tasks on the right. The monthly calendar has arrows, so you can tap from one month to the next, and each day is color-coded with a heat map or dots to show how much you have scheduled for that day. The widget strikes the perfect balance between a monthly overview and what I currently have going on.
In addition to being able to page through monthly calendar views in several widgets, Fantastical lets you mark tasks as completed and customize a quick action to start a search or add an event or task from any of the widgets that display your schedule or by using a dedicated small widget with a single add button. Widgets with schedules can also be themed, customized to only show a certain calendar set, or limited to certain types of events or tasks.
The monochrome colors of Lock Screen widgets limit their utility, given the density of information Fantastical is handling. However, the Lock Screen is a handy place for a monthly calendar for a quick look at your next event or task. My favorite is the monthly calendar view, which I’ve found useful when looking up a date. On the iPhone, you’re limited to a condensed version that shows the current week along with the week before and after. However, on the iPad, you can include a full month that’s interactive, allowing you to move from month to month. Another good option is the Up Next medium-sized Lock Screen widget that shows your next meeting or task.
Fantastical has several StandBy widget options, too. ‘Event List’ manages to fit a few events plus the weather for each day displayed in a single widget that is a little cramped for my tastes but a great choice if you’re goal is maximizing limited space. I prefer Up Next, so I can focus on one upcoming event or task at a time, which also includes a weather forecast. A monthly calendar widget and two versions of today’s date are also available.
On the Apple Watch, Flexibits has updated its app for watchOS 10’s design changes. The app offers Up Next, List, and Task views that take advantage of my Apple Watch Ultra’s large screen, which I love. I’m also fond of the app’s large complication, which includes your next event as well as its duration and an accompanying timeline. I don’t have a packed calendar, so I don’t use Fantastical’s complications often, but the large one is perfect for keeping track of your busiest days.
Fantastical has an incredibly rich and deep feature set that makes it the perfect choice for people who live in their calendars, moving between meetings all day and managing tasks. What its widgets do is a little different, though. They free users from having to dip into the complexity of Fantastical’s main app as often, which I love. Fantastical isn’t hard to use, but if your day has already been scheduled, opening the app to check when your next meeting starts or to check off a task is more than is necessary. For those times, the app’s widgets and Watch app are perfect, allowing for quick interactions but with the full feature set of the app just a tap away when you need it.
Fantastical is available on the App Store as a free download with many features requiring a monthly subscription of $6.99/month or $56.99/year for individuals and $10.49/month or $89.99/year for families. The Mac version of Fantastical is a separate download.