Apple’s HomePod received its first substantial update since launch yesterday, at last bringing the delayed AirPlay 2 and stereo pairing features to the public. It also came with a nice surprise in the form of Calendar support, the only new Siri domain added to the device thus far.
Posts tagged with "calendar"
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.
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.
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.
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.
Agenda is an intriguing approach to note taking on the Mac that’s organized around dates and your calendar. The app is beautifully-designed and notably feature-rich for a 1.0 but lacks an iOS counterpart, which is still in the works, and collaboration features, which will limit its appeal to some users. There are also areas of the app that lack polish, but overall, Agenda shows a lot of promise and should be attractive to anyone who juggles multiple calendar events and deadlines.
One of the most valuable advantages of digital calendars over physical ones is how much easier they are to manage. For example, the concept of a recurring event is easy for calendar apps to grasp, while adding the same event to a physical calendar can be both a time drain and a literal pain in your dominant hand. After recurring events, I’d guess that rescheduling is the next greatest pain point for physical calendar users. There’s erasing and re-writing involved when dealing with something physical, whereas with calendar apps you simply scroll the little date spinner to adjust a rescheduled event. Or if you’re using Fantastical, then thanks to the addition of drag and drop you can simply pick a task up and drop it on the new date.
On both iPhone and iPad, drag and drop in Fantastical empowers easy event rescheduling, and it also enables you to drag and drop reminders to set new due dates for them. The drag and drop support on iPad is more extensive, of course, allowing you to bring events and reminders out of Fantastical and into the app of your choice. Drag events into a Mail.app compose field and they’ll send as ICS files. Add them to a text editor and they’ll expand to include all attached information, such as location data, notes, and more. Similarly, reminders dropped elsewhere include their additional metadata as well. You can also drop text from other apps into Fantastical to create new events: simply hold the text over the day you want to create an event on, and drop. The text will be pre-filled in a new event creation dialogue, letting you add additional details then and there, or hit the Add button to complete it.
The pace of new apps adding support for drag and drop on iOS has been encouraging. There’s still plenty of work to be done by third-party developers, but we’re moving quickly toward the day when all of the main apps we use on a daily basis will be able to send and receive information in the most natural way possible.
Today Moleskine unveiled its latest work in the area of integrating physical and digital methods of note taking: the Smart Planner. Matt Burns, writing for TechCrunch:
Like other Livescribe systems, the Smart Planner as it’s called uses paper embedded with sensors that can read and sync anything written by the Moleskine Pen+. Meetings and appointments written on the planner part of the paper are synced automatically to the user’s Google or Apple account and placed appropriately on their calendar.
Both the pen and the paper are required for this system to work.
The system will be available worldwide on September 12…The set will cost $199 or $29 for just the planner.
Moleskine’s reputation in the area of physical notebooks is top-notch, and its work in the digital space with apps like Timepage is excellent as well. It should come as no surprise, then, that a company with expertise in both physical and digital realms would put that skill to use creating a system that seamlessly blends both worlds.
I prefer to avoid handwriting anything if I can help it, but for the huge market of people who love their handwritten notes – in this case, handwritten calendar appointments – but also want the benefits of keeping that data in the cloud, Moleskine is building an exciting system here.
In the past, I rarely added locations to my calendar events unless I was going someplace I’d never been, but that’s changed since I started testing the update to ETA that was released today. The reason for the switch is a powerful new feature available as an In-App Purchase in ETA, which uses locations associated with events in your calendar to tell you when to leave for an appointment and how long it will take to get there.
Today the team at Flexibits launched Fantastical 2.4 for Mac, and it is a release packed full of improvements. There’s nothing revolutionary here, but the changes make an already excellent calendar app even better.
A long-requested feature, Fantastical now includes travel time as an option when setting event alerts. No longer do you need to provide a fixed alert time for each event – though that option still remains – because the travel time option will select an alert time that’s tailored to each event and the distance you’ll have to travel to get there, plus a few minutes of cushion.
File attachments are now supported for events in Fantastical, with some stipulations. If you have an iCloud, Exchange, or other supported CalDAV-powered calendar, the full range of attachment powers will be at your disposal. With events on those types of calendars you can add, remove, and view attachments. If your calendar is Google-based, you still won’t be able to add or remove attachments directly from Fantastical, but you can view any attachments already present.
The popular month view in Fantastical has received two significant improvements. One is that if a day contains so many events that they won’t all fit, you can now click the ‘more’ button at the bottom of that day and the hidden events will pop out. When they pop out, they temporarily cover a portion of the day underneath so you can view all the day’s events in the same view. The second improvement is that you can now customize the number of weeks that are displayed at once, ranging from two on the low end to eight on the high end. This is a much-appreciated feature for tailoring the calendar to your personal needs – if you like plenty of breathing room for your events, you can display a smaller number of weeks, whereas if you want to pack a ton of information onscreen, now you can do that too.
Combined Duplicate Events: When you manage a variety of different calendars, including some that may be shared with family members or coworkers, your calendar app can quickly get clogged up with duplicate listings for the same event across those shared calendars. For example, if my wife and I are attending a wedding, which of us puts that on our calendar? Probably both of us, because we’ll both be attending. But Fantastical now condenses those duplicate events so they’re displayed as a single event only, reducing the visual clutter of your calendar while ensuring everyone keeps events on their own calendars as needed. For those who may not like this approach to duplicate events, you can turn it off in the app’s preferences.
Invitation Improvements: Google calendars have received three improvements in the area of invitations. Now you can add a customized message with your invitation response, and you can also view other people’s messages by hovering over their names on the invitation. Lastly, if an invitee is bringing guests with them, you can now see that information as a +1 to their response (or whatever the correct number is). With Exchange calendars there are two small updates to invitations: you can now forward invitations to other Exchange users, and you can respond to invitations without notifying the sender.
Undo and Redo: If you add, remove, or edit an event or reminder and wish to take that action back, now you can thanks to built-in support for undo and redo.
Push Updates for Facebook Events: Whenever a Facebook event has its information updated, or you first confirm that you’ll be attending a Facebook event, those changes are now pushed immediately to Fantastical.
Fantastical was already one of the most powerful, customizable calendar apps on the market, but the improvements in today’s update offer even more in the areas of power and flexibility.