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Posts tagged with "calendar"

CalZones Review

I've always struggled to find apps that understand how people work across multiple time zones. In the 10 years I've been writing MacStories, I've come across dozens of time zone conversion utilities (and I even created my own with Shortcuts), but as someone who works remotely with people all over the globe, I know there's more to time zone management than just performing a quick conversion. Perhaps you're planning a Skype call with three more people, each living in a different time zone; maybe you have to coordinate a product launch and need to know at a glance what "3 PM GMT" means for your customers in New York, San Francisco, Rome, and Sydney. CalZones, the latest app by _David Smith, is the first iOS app I've ever used that fundamentally gets how people work and schedule events across multiple time zones. It's almost like CalZones was made specifically for me, and it's an app that speaks directly to my heart.

CalZones, available today on the App Store as a Universal app, is based on a simple, ingenious concept that, to the best of my knowledge, has never been done on the App Store before: the app combines a time zone viewer with a calendar client, enabling you to compare times across multiple cities as well as view and create calendar events that display start/end times in multiple formats. By fusing time zone comparisons and calendar events into one product, Smith was able to create an app that is greater than the sum of its parts because it solves a problem that neither traditional world clocks nor calendar clients could fix before.

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Eventail Widget Adds GoodTask Integration, New URL Buttons

I last covered Eventail in April 2018, when its developer Jozef Legeny brought support for the iPhone X and new color schemes to his compact calendar widget for iPhone and iPad. With version 3.1 released today, Eventail (which over the past year also gained support for overdue reminders and interactive mode) is adding integrations for popular third-party apps and a convenient shortcut to reopen links contained in events and reminders.

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Agenda 4.0 Brings Support for File Attachments, Improved iOS Automation

Agenda launched earlier this year with a fresh take on note-taking apps focused on dates and a timeline-based approach. As John noted in his original review of the Mac version (and later iOS), Agenda prioritizes dates as a means of note organization rather than folders or tagging; while it is possible to store notes in folders (called Projects in Agenda) and add hashtags to them, Agenda shines when your notes become actionable, time-sensitive steps that you can access in the top level 'On the Agenda' view, the 'Today' section, or, even better, the system calendar. Given its unique nature, it takes a while to understand Agenda and evaluate whether or not it may have a place in your workflow; I recommend reading our reviews of the first version of Agenda if you still haven't tried the app.

As I mentioned on AppStories and Connected recently, I've been experimenting with Agenda as a mix of an outlining tool and note-taking app that I use in addition to Apple Notes. Whenever I'm planning an article or long-term project, I always start by saving thoughts or links in the Notes app. I find Notes to be the only app that removes as much friction as possible when saving notes while still maintaining the benefits of a traditional folder structure with instant iCloud sync between devices. The fact that I can throw text, links, and images into Notes makes it a superior choice to Drafts when it comes to quickly assembling a collection of ideas and references.

Once I have enough material to turn an idea into a story, I move everything from Notes to Agenda, where I can start giving notes more structure, tag them (and thus create saved searches), and, more importantly, give them deadlines with due dates. If I'm supposed to start writing an article before the weekend, for instance, I'll give the associated note in Agenda a due date of Friday; on that day, the note will appear in the Today section of the app and, if I enabled the integration, on my system calendar as well. I've also been using Agenda to store notes for my podcasts (I work on them each week and make them due on recording day), ideas for shortcuts I want to build, and other bits of technical documentation that benefit from Agenda's support for code snippets and sub-headings. But mostly I use the app because its timeline-oriented design lets me see which note I have to turn into an article or podcast outline on any given day without having to create a separate reminder for it.

That's a long-winded introduction to say that, yes, it took me a while to "get" what Agenda is all about, but now I understand when its system can work for me and when I should stick to Apple Notes instead (such as for personal, non-work notes or notes shared with other people). Which is why I'm happy that with version 4.0, launching today on macOS and iOS, Agenda is getting support for a feature that levels the playing field with Apple Notes: image and file attachments.

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Fantastically Good Event Parser for Drafts 5

Peter Davison-Reiber created something pretty amazing in Drafts 5 – a natural language parser to create events in the system calendar natively, without launching other apps:

The way apps like Fantastical actually integrate with the system calendar in iOS is via an API which allows direct manipulation of calendar events. You may have seen the Allow app to access the Calendar? prompt when first launching apps which use this. Drafts integrates this API into its scripting capabilities, and so it occurred to me recently that perhaps I could build a similar functionality within Drafts using JavaScript. This would allow me to use the system calendar app, which I prefer aesthetically over Fantastical, while retaining the ability to enter events in natural language.

What I’ve ended up creating has almost all of the same functionality as Fantastical, but since it does not rely on launching an external URL scheme, is considerably faster. You can enter multiple events, each on a different line, and have them all instantly added to your calendar without even launching another app.

He used chrono.js, which is a natural language date parser written in JavaScript that he adapted to Drafts 5. This allows you to write something like "Monday at 2 PM" and the Drafts action will correctly interpret it as a date and time. This is not the first time Davison-Reiber created a Drafts 5 action based on chrono.js either – you should check out his natural language Things parser too, which takes my original idea and makes it even better and easier to use in Drafts.

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HomePod Receiving AirPlay 2 and Calendar Support Today, Launching in More Countries Soon

Apple is releasing iOS 11.4 today, alongside a companion 11.4 update for the HomePod. Ahead of that release, Apple Newsroom shared details on exactly what we can expect.

Today's update will at last bring AirPlay 2 to iOS and, by extension, the HomePod. This will enable the multi-room audio and stereo pairing features that Apple first demonstrated on-stage at last year's WWDC. More in-depth coverage of AirPlay 2 features will be available in our iOS 11.4 overview, publishing when that update launches. And look out for a hands-on story covering the HomePod's new stereo pairing feature after it becomes available.

One other noteworthy feature coming to HomePod today is the addition of Calendar support. This works similarly to the other Personal Requests features of HomePod, which include Notes, Messages, and Reminders: only the Apple ID used to set up your HomePod will be able to share its Calendar information, and that data can only be accessed when you're at home on the same Wi-Fi network as HomePod.

Finally, Apple has announced three countries where HomePod will be launching soon: Canada, France, and Germany. The smart speaker will be available beginning Monday, June 18th.

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Agenda for iOS Review

Agenda, which launched on iOS today, is one of the most interesting note-taking apps I’ve used. The app is simultaneously structured around projects, like a task manager, and dates, like a calendar app.

Agenda immediately caught my eye with its beautiful design and unique approach to notes when it launched on the Mac in January. At the time, I was intrigued by Agenda, but the lack of an iOS version was a deal-breaker. Notes apps are one of those categories that benefit immensely from being available everywhere. When I tested Agenda in January, I found myself on my iPad wanting to refer notes that were locked inside Agenda on my Mac almost immediately, so I put Agenda away and waited for the promised iOS version.

On the iPhone, Agenda uses the same sliding panels where they dominate most of the screen.

On the iPhone, Agenda uses the same sliding panels where they dominate most of the screen.

With today’s release of Agenda for iOS, which syncs between platforms, that’s no longer an issue. The Mac and iOS versions are virtually identical in their designs, interaction models, and feature sets. I won’t repeat the details here. You can learn more about the app’s structure and design from my review of the Mac version. Instead, I want to focus on the ways I’ve begun to integrate Agenda into my work over the past week that I’ve had the beta; with an app as flexible as Agenda, concrete examples of how it can be used are more useful than a list of features.

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Eventail 2.2: A Compact and Customizable Calendar Widget

Eventail, developed by Jozef Legeny, is a handy utility for visualizing upcoming calendar events in a widget. Instead of building an alternative client to compete with Apple's Calendar app, Fantastical, or Week Calendar, Legeny created just a widget that you can use as a companion app alongside the calendar client of your choice.

Eventail has been updated to version 2.2 today, which brings a new vivid color scheme for events, a true black theme for the iPhone X, and other visual tweaks. I've been testing the updated app for a couple of weeks and I liked it so much, it's now got a spot at the top of my widget list on both the iPhone and iPad. In a compact and customizable widget, Eventail tells me everything I need to know from my calendar at a glance: which days are going to be busy and the time of my first appointment. There's a fair amount of personalization that you can apply in the app's settings (the app itself – pictured above – is a list of preferences): you can choose the number of days to display, whether you want to highlight weekends or not, and even if you want to display reminders alongside calendar events. Then, once you're looking at the widget, you can tap individual days to expand them and tap again to go back to the main column view. It couldn't be simpler.

Eventail's widget will not scale for busy individuals who have dozens of events going on each day. However, as someone with only a couple of appointments on a daily basis, I find Eventail's approach to be good enough for my needs and pretty to look at. I'm still using Week Calendar as my primary iPhone calendar client, but I now frequently open the Eventail widget when I need to know what my week looks like in a couple of seconds.

Eventail 2.2 is available on the App Store.