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Posts tagged with "google calendar"

Google Calendar Arrives on iPad

Google today released an update to its Google Calendar iOS app that brings full iPad support. The app has been optimized for all iPad sizes, including the 12.9" iPad Pro, and it launches with Split View support.

The app is very simple, but attractive. Beautiful illustrations line the background of the calendar, with a different illustration for each month of the year. Hitting the red plus button to add a calendar event provides the option of creating a Goal or Reminder rather than a traditional event. The navigation menu includes a settings button, several different calendar view options, a search function, and a list of all available calendars that you can turn on or off. That's it. There's not much to explore, but then again, maybe that's okay for a calendar app.

On its blog Google states that more improvements to the app will be coming soon, specifically mentioning an upcoming widget that will enable quick viewing of future events.


Google Calendar and Inbox Add Reminders

Vijay Umapathy, writing for the Official Gmail Blog:

Our calendars should help us make the most of our time — scheduling meetings at work, remembering brunch with friends, and keeping track of all our other commitments. But often our to-do list is elsewhere, separate from the Calendar that organizes our day, and we end up overcommitted or miss something important because we forgot to check our list.
Now there's a single way to manage your day: starting this week, you can create Reminders in Google Calendar to keep track of your to-dos alongside your scheduled events.

Reminders aren't just kept in Google Calendar either, they will also be accessible from the Google Inbox, Google Keep and Google Now apps - and they'll be coming to the web in the future. For those of you invested in the Google ecosystem, and just need a simple way to remember about tasks you need to do, this new Reminders feature from Google may be a perfect fit.

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QuickCal 3.0 Gets Redesigned UI and BusyCal Support

Back in May I reviewed QuickCal for Mac, an iCal add-on that, through a very straightforward interface, allowed you to create new events in iCal using "natural language input". With a combination of keyboard shortcuts and direct iCal integration, QuickCal let you write down events in plain English (example: Lunch with Cody tomorrow at Italian restaurant), and have them automatically formatted as new entries in iCal, which would then sync them to a MobileMe or online service of choice. Alternatively, QuickCal also featured native Google Calendar support, so events didn't have to go through iCal first to be synced online. With a clean menubar list of upcoming events, support for to-dos and smart reminders, I was quite impressed by QuickCal as an iCal add-on for desktop users.

With the 3.0 update released today, QuickCal adds a completely redesigned UI, a new dynamic dock icon, and a series of improvements throughout the interface. As with the previous version, QuickCal can be invoked by pressing a keyboard shortcut (mine is Control+Shift+Q), which will open a floating panel (think OmniFocus' quick entry/Alfred/NotifyMe) to start writing down a future event. Focus is immediately placed on the text cursor; the new QuickCal entry box design is nice to look at, and it retains the underlying simplicity of the older versions. As you type, text is automatically formatted to reflect an event's data points like date, location, and duration. For instance, "Meet with Chris at Apple Store, Viterbo tomorrow from 5 to 6" will result in an event called "Meet with Cris", with location, date and duration fields automatically filled in. This hasn't changed from the old QuickCal.

QuickCal 3.0 has a beautiful dock icon with a dynamic date on it (like iCal), although unfortunately, due to Apple's rules with menubar apps and Lion, you'll have to manually drag it from Launchpad or the Applications folder onto your dock if you want to see it. Once it's there, you'll be able to click on it to open the quick entry panel, and drop text on it as well. If you don't want to use QuickCal's own quick entry box, you can make its natural language input work with popular application launchers such as Alfred and LaunchBar.

Other features of QuickCal 2.0 have been maintained and refined in this 3.0 release. The app can still create to-dos in a specific calendar with the "todo" prefix -- this works nicely with iCal's Reminders in Lion. QuickCal also provides a summary of upcoming events and to-dos in the menubar, and you can play around with the app's preferences to tweak sorting options, days to show, and completed events. You can set a default calendar for new events and to-dos, enable Google Calendar sync in the second tab of the Preferences, and, as with version 2.0, activate automatic conflict resolution, so the app will turn red if you're creating an event that's overlapping an existing one.

One of my favorite features of QuickCal 2.0 has been ported over to 3.0, and that's Smart Reminders. With this functionality, you can set the app to automatically apply certain alarms for events that are a day, week, or month away. This way you'll always have a reminder available and different depending on the kind of event you're assigning it to.

QuickCal 3.0 comes with native BusyCal support, but I haven't been able to test this. I've only tested the app with MobileMe and iCloud calendars, and I've noticed QuickCal still isn't completely independent from Apple's iCal in that it requires iCal to be open to sync events to the cloud. With iCal closed but QuickCal running, new events will be saved in QuickCal, but they'll only be synced after you launch iCal. Another app with natural language input for events, Fantastical, comes at a higher price on the App Store ($14.99), but it syncs events immediately to the cloud thanks to native CalDAV sync support.

QuickCal 3.0 is a simple and effective companion for iCal, now with a nicer UI. I prefer to call the app an add-on, rather than a mini-calendar replacement, as it requires iCal to be open to sync events to iCloud/MobileMe, and it can't live on its own unless you're a Google Calendar user. Natural language input is certainly more reliable than iCal's in Lion, and the interface is unobtrusive enough to be there to assist you, but get out of the way as you don't need it. If you're an iCal user and you're looking for a quicker way to enter events in plain English, QuickCal is only $2.99 on the App Store (a free 14-day trial is available on QuickCal's website).
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Fantastical: Your Personal iCal Assistant

 

In my preview of Fantastical, a new Mac application by Flexibits, I noted how developing a new calendar utility for OS X wasn't an easy task at all: not only does the competition offer some great alternatives, Apple itself bundles the free iCal into the main installation of Mac OS X Snow Leopard, giving users a relatively powerful tool to manage appointments, invites, to-dos and all sorts of calendar needs. Whilst iCal -- and on iOS, the Calendar app for iPhones and iPads -- makes it super-simple to see all events at a glance with the supported Google Calendar, MobileMe, CalDAV and other protocols, it appears Apple didn't really focus on letting users quickly and easily add new items with a few keystrokes and commands. To enter a new event in Apple's default iCal, you have to open the app, head over the day you've chosen (or hit a keyboard shortcut) and type in every single field for the new event. That includes things like name, location, all-day checkbox, date and time, repeat, invitees and status.

Being forced to manually type all info and move the cursor around every single time is boring, and annoying; that's exactly what Flexibits wants to fix and improve with Fantastical.

As I highlighted in my initial preview, Fantastical's biggest feature lies in the way it allows you to enter events with natural language. Plain English, that's it. Once the app is configured with your calendars and up and running in the menubar, you'll be able to invoke its main window with a shortcut (or by clicking on the menubar icon), be automatically focused in the text entry field, and start typing. Before I delve deeper into this, a quick note about Fantastical's calendar support: being the app an external tool that can be integrated with iCal, the app perfectly supports all the protocols already supported by Apple out of the box. That means MobileMe, Google Calendar, CalDAV, shared calendars -- anything, really. In my tests, the app (and iCal, set as my default calendar app, more on this in a minute) worked just fine with a personal Me calendar, two Google Calendars, as well as a shared cal configured through Exchange both on Mac and iOS. As far as calendar support goes, there's nothing to worry about if your calendars are already working in iCal. In fact, the app looks directly into it to fetch local and online calendars you might want to use, and iCal doesn't even need to be running for Fantastical to add new events. Furthermore, the app also supports Outlook and Entourage, Yahoo! Calendar accounts as well as delegates both on Google and Yahoo.

Fantastical's natural language system is without a doubt the most important feature that sets it apart from other calendar utilities for Mac and Apple's own iCal. As I noted in my preview, writing "Meet with Cody tomorrow at Apple Store, Viterbo 5 PM to 6 PM" in iCal does nothing, in spite of the sentence being correct and relatively simple to understand for a computer. Writing the same sentence in plain English in Fantastical adds a new event with all the fields already filled in. I'm talking about the event's name (Meet with Cody), location (Apple Store, Viterbo), relative date (tomorrow) and time (from 5 PM to 6 PM). Fantastical understand what you've written, and leaves room for typos such as "Thrsday" or "tomorow." The system implemented by Flexibits is very powerful and, as the company's name reflects, flexible, allowing you to enter an event's name in almost any way you want with the app still recognizing it correctly. Why is it a big deal? Because it's smart and it helps me save time. Instead of having to move my cursor to select checkboxes and repeat the same actions over and over again, I just write a quick sentence like I'm used to and the app does the job for me. Indeed, Fantastical is the closest thing to a "calendar assistant" the Mac has ever seen. More importantly, the system is smart in the way it knows when I'm referring to people already in my Address Book. In the screenshot below, you can see how I wrote "Meet with Cody" and the app knew "Cody" was an entry in the Mac's Address Book. From there, it fetched the two email addresses saved with Cody's contact information and enabled me to send an invitation without leaving the app or having to open a browser. Overall, Fantastical's natural input technology is the best thing that ever happened to a calendar application, for all the reasons listed above.

Fantastical, however, is also a great utility because of its intelligent and clever design. Let alone the fact that the app looks beautiful (just take a look at the screenshot or download the trial and play with it for 5 minutes), the design is functional to what a user has to accomplish: entering events quickly, in seconds, without opening a full-featured calendar app. Fantastical is unobtrusive, sits in the menubar and can be launched with a keyboard shortcut. If you feel like you want to look at it all the time, you can pin the app to stay above other windows. I don't do that, but the feature might come in handy when adding events from other applications. The calendar design is minimal, tasteful, and allows you to navigate between months with ease. Marked days and events are done the right way with subtle indicators and graphics overlaying the main calendar. Nothing about Fantastical is "too much" or redundant: events can be previewed in a small popup if you head over them with your mouse, and if you double-click them iCal will launch. Events can't be deleted from within Fantastical, but the app allows you to enter a new one from any app or browser -- as you can see in the screenshot below. The system-wide service is incredibly useful when dealing with receipts and expenses in PDF documents, or just about any date displayed on screen. It'd be nice to be able to delete events in Fantastical, but I think the focus for the developers now is to let users add events in any way they want, as fast as possible.

There are other functionalities worth mentioning, too. From Fantastical's window, you can decide how many "next events" or "next days" to show, so you'll always be focused on the right amount of time and events. From the same menu, you can jump to today's view. There are some things to tweak in the Preferences as well: you can choose a default calendar and calendar app, which will be the one that handles event management in the background as you add new stuff in Fantastical. The keyboard shortcut for quick entry can be customized, alongside the menubar icon that can show date, date and weekday, or date and month. Calendars can be managed in the preferences' second tab, and you can set default alarms for timed and all-day events so you'll always end up with a standard alarm for every new event -- very useful.

Fantastical is the calendar assistant to install on every Mac that has to deal with calendars. Not because Fantastical is more powerful than other solutions like iCal and Outlook, but because is smarter and different. Fantastical wants to be the best, fastest and most intuitive way to add new events, whereas other desktop applications focus on letting you manage your calendar, sometimes packing features that slow down the whole process of adding new events. Fantastical is available on the Mac App Store at an introductory price of $14.99, with a free trial available here. Read more


Switching From MobileMe to Google Sync

As you might have read if you follow me on Twitter, my MobileMe subscription expired last week. In the past year, I've relied on MobileMe's services (but not the webapp) for syncing all my contacts, calendars, emails and bookmarks from the desktop to the cloud and back to iOS devices such as my iPhone 4 and iPad. But when the subscription was nearing its expiration date (Apple notifies you weeks before with a series of emails and a brief note on Me.com), I was left with a question: should I renew? Considering all the rumors about MobileMe being completely revamped and going free we've heard in the past months, I was skeptical about a renewal because I didn't want to pay for a service that is likely going through some major changes and won't no longer be supported (at least in its current iteration) a year from now. And even if I still have access to some sections of my old MobileMe account (mail, contacts and Find My iPhone), I decided that renewing wasn't simply worth it and it was time for me to find an alternative -- even a temporary one until MobileMe is updated to include new features and pricing schemes. That alternative is Google Sync, and here's my experience so far. Read more


CalendarBar Tucks Event Reminders In Your Menubar

Clean Cut Code is known for making beautiful apps like Cloud Calendar, and it was only a matter of time before they brought some of their talent to the OS X desktop. CalendarBar takes on the inefficiencies of a traditional calendar client by providing a quick list of events in a beautiful timeline that can grab events from iCal, Google Calendar, and Facebook. Clicking on an event takes you to the event listing in its parent application -- CalendarBar removes the distraction of busy calendar utilities, but provides shortcuts so you can add entries and gather additional information. The app features a some iOS overtones in its design, most obviously via the settings and exit button that adorn the bottom of the pop-up panel. Launching yesterday, the app is only $1.99 in the Mac App Store.


Bringing Google Calendar To The iPad, Cloud Calendar Just Works (And We’re Giving It Away)

The simplicity of iCal should be transcended to our Google Calendars. Wrestling iCal and Google Calendars to work in harmony has been somewhat of a challenge because I have completely two different sets of calendars and events that need to be merged, and currently I can't risk the time (or expense) to sit down and ensure my mid 2011 dates aren't hacked to pieces because of conflicts. What I need isn't a syncing solution, but rather a completely new app that allows me to separate my personal life from my business life. Cloud Calendar from Clean Cut Code delivers all of my Google dates to my iPad with the familiarity of iCal.

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Review: Cloud Calendar, Google Calendar Client for iPad

While searching for interesting alternatives to Apple's own calendar application for iPhone and iPad, I stumbled upon Cloud Calendar by Clean Cut Code. Cloud Calendar is a new calendar app for iPad that's specifically meant to work with Google Calendar -- and being Google's calendar solution part of my workflow already, I decided to give it a try.

Cloud Calendar is undoubtedly a very good app to manage your calendars on the iPad, it comes with an elegant interface design and it's intuitive enough to let you add new events with one tap. It still needs some additional customization options though, the ones that could probably break the app for "calendar power users" that can't live without edit mode in shared calendars. It's a very good app overall, so read on past the break for all the details. Read more