One of the many reasons we buy smartphones is because they help us organize our lives. No other app will help you accomplish this better than your calendar app, and while smartphones come with built-in calendars, sometimes those apps just don’t cut it. If you’re looking for something with a bit more pizazz, then you need some great third-party apps that will enhance your organization, and let you do more than you thought was possible.
Fantastical 2 ($2)
For iOS, the best calendar app can only be Fantastical 2. It works with the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, and it takes advantage of features like 3D Touch and Force Touch. What pushes it above the rest of the apps available on iOS is how it supports multiple languages, lets people use speech to create reminders, and even supports the use of simple text phrases to make reminders and alerts. It’s intuitive, quick, convenient, and feature-rich, which is everything you want from an app you’re hoping will make your life easier to schedule.
The iPad app gets its own unique dashboard view, which provides quick and easy access to all of your events and reminders. If you have an Apple Watch, there’s a dedicated app for that as well, which will have your reminders pushed to it, and allow you to speak directly to the watch to add new events, thanks to the Force Touch capabilities. English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese are all supported.
Many of the app’s features are standard fare and just what you’d expect a calendar app to offer, but Fantastical 2 strives to make every process more convenient in order to save time. For example, you can start a sentence with “reminder,” “to do,” or “task” to create reminders, or use phrases like “remind me tomorrow at 3PM,” or “alarm 3PM” to set new alerts. You can also add a geofence to an alert so that it’ll go off when you leave or arrive at a specific location. For example, if you head out to a grocery store, you’ll be reminded of the fact that you need milk and bread.
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CloudCal (free/$4 Pro upgrade)
For Android users, we can’t recommend CloudCal enough. CloudCal has a unique way of showing how busy you are on any given day. The Android app uses a system it calls Magic Circles, which turn the days of the month into clock faces, and shows different colored circles, or segments of a circle. Each one corresponds to whatever tasks you have scheduled for that day. If it’s someone’s birthday, there would be a complete magic circle on that day. If you have a meeting at work that same day, there would be another colored segment on the outside of the previously mentioned circle labeled “Meeting.” The goal of the magic circle system is to give people a rough understanding of what their day will be like, and how much free time they’ll have in between everything.
To complement the magic circles, CloudCal features gesture support, customizable views, calendar import, and it can work alongside other apps like Uber, Maps, and Waze. However, that requires those apps to be installed, and you’ll need to purchase the Pro version of the app for $3.49 first. Once installed, you can call an Uber from within CloudCal, or use Maps and Waze to attach locations to scheduled events and tasks.
The biggest factor behind our recommendation is the app’s unique Magic Circles system, which is stylish and gets information across quickly. There’s also the fact that you can use other apps like Uber, Maps, and Waze to complement CloudCal’s features and functions. We also like that you can attach photos, audio files, and Dropbox files to events.
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Calendars 5 ($7)
Calendars 5 is so named because it’s the fifth version of Readdle’s Calendars app, meaning its developer has had a lot of time to invest in this particular app and its features. The current incarnation of the app works with both the iPhone and iPad, allowing you to keep track of your events across iOS devices. It’s a simple feature, but an invaluable one for those deep in the Apple ecosystem who already use the iPhone’s default Calendar app. Of course, a calendar app is nothing without intuitive ways to create new events, schedules, and alerts, and Calendars 5 does it all incredibly well.
Enter, for example, “Meet John at Starbucks on Sunday,” and the app will automatically create an event on Sunday to meet at Starbucks. Need to get a larger picture of what you have planned for the next week or month? The app has multiple views to show your schedule while utilizing the iPhone’s screen to the fullest. Was the aforementioned meeting at Starbucks supposed to be on Saturday instead? Drag the event from one day to another, and the changes will be reflected on your other devices. Edits can be made offline as well, which will then be synced the next time you have a Wi-Fi connection.
Additional features of Calendars 5 include being able to set recurring events, set custom alerts, and invite others to your events and tasks. And, more importantly, this is all done within an app featuring a design that looks and feels right at home on the iOS platform.
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Tiny Calendar (free/in-app purchases)
If you need a simple alternative to the pre-loaded calendars on iPhone and Android devices, you can’t go wrong with Tiny Calendar. The free version of this app lets you do all the basic things you need a calendar app to do: Work offline, sync edits and information across devices, see multiple layouts, and create reminders that will notify you either through push notifications or via email. You can use your device’s GPS to add specific locations to events, forgoing the need to look up directions later. Furthermore, you can sync Tiny Calendar with local calendars or Google Calendar, giving you more of an incentive to use it if the stock options are not to your liking. The downside to all of this, of course, is the presence of ads, which can be done away with when you upgrade to the Pro version of the app.
In addition to being ad-free, the $7 Tiny Calendar Pro app offers a few extra features, such as the ability to accept invites and invite others, the option to export events through email, and the ability to create recurring events. You also get access to more blue and gray themes, which is great if you want to change the color scheme of the app. Or, if you only want one or two of the upgraded features, you can also buy them individually for less than the upgrade price.
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Google Calendar (free)
You may think that Google Calendar works best for people already invested in all things Google, but that’s not necessarily true. If Gmail is your primary email service, you’ll see certain events like your upcoming flights, booked hotels, and restaurant reservations added to your Google calendar automatically. Aside from that, non-Gmail users will get the same functions out of it.
You’ll find the usual options, like being able to set reminders for upcoming events and check your to-dos scheduled for the same day as those events. There are different calendar views to show you what’s taking place on a certain day or during a specific week. Google Calendar also links seamlessly with other calendars you may use, such as Samsung’s S-Planner or Apple’s iCloud. One of the more special things Google Calendar can do, though, is the option to set personal goals. Want to run three times a week, or get in some time to play video games? The app will schedule time for those things automatically.
Unfortunately, based on user reviews, your experience may vary when it comes to how well Google Calendar actually works. Some have said that alarms and reminders have stopped working, or it doesn’t sync across devices, while others simply want additional features to make the app better. However, there are also users with no complaints who say it works as intended, and hope to continue using it. If you’re a heavy Gmail user, it’s definitely worth checking out.
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