The three most frequently used types of apps on a smartphone are an email client, a messaging app, and a calendar app. But on iOS the last of these three leaves something to be desired – even inside iOS 8, sadly.
Calendar was a great little planner in iOS 6 and below, but Apple stripped out some UI elements in iOS 7 that made the app a bit cumbersome to use. Thankfully there’s a wide array of excellent third-party calendar apps in the App Store. I’ve tested over a dozen of these alternate calendar planners over the last month and here are my six favourites (in alphabetical order).
What first caught my attention about Agenda Calendar was one simple feature: in month view a dot appears below each date from every calendar with an event scheduled that day. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s one of the biggest frustrations with Apple’s default Calendar app.
I’m a month-view user, you see, that’s just how I roll, and the default Calendar app only shows a single dot for each day even if you have multiple events scheduled from multiple calendars. Agenda Calendar fixes that.
With a glance you can see all the calendars you have events for on a single day. Besides that the app also base some great features like endless scrolling in list view with location information and a beautifully simple design.
Calendar 5 is another app that has won me over thanks to its great design. Its main benefit is the way it displays your events depending on day, week, month, or list view. Day view shows your events along a nice timeline connecting your meetings throughout the day. But my favourite is Week view, which shows you a colourful grid of all you’ve got going on every hour of the day.
Another great thing about the app is the ability for you to input data naturally to create an event. For example, you can just type “Meet Richard at work on Tuesday at 2pm” and the app will automatically pull all the variables out to create an accurate event entry.
I actually happen to like that Apple breaks the Reminders and Calendar app into two parts, but I know many people who like having their reminders and calendars in one place. For them, I highly recommend Fantastical 2.
Fantastical has been a great iOS calendar app for a while now, but with the second version the app has graduated from only being a calendar app to adding reminders to the mix. It also has great language recognition (like Calendars 5, above) and also has the ability to create events and reminders by dictation. Add in the beautiful UI and Fantastical 2 is a hard one to pass up.
The first free app on our list, Mynd goes a step further than all the other calendar apps on this list by also being a personal assistant of sorts. It’s not as feature-rich as Siri in this department but the app actually learns more about you the longer you use it.
As its creators explain, “When you replace your usual calendar with Mynd, within a week, Mynd will learn your daily commute and regular meeting spots so that it can start providing accurate drive times to your next destination.”
While I love its predictive learning capabilities, I’m not too crazy about its colour choices or tiled layout – but all that can be forgiven because it really DID learn my schedule in just a few weeks, something iOS’s Calendar can’t do.
Compared to some of the other apps on this list Sunrise looks a bit feature-light. There’s no predictive learning or unique event views. What Sunrise does have going for it is a drop-dead beautiful UI. Matter of fact, this UI is so beautiful it’s how the Calendar app should look in iOS 7.
But Sunrise isn’t only about looks; it’s got some nice features too, like the ability to see faces and profiles of people you are meeting thanks to its LinkedIn integration and the ability to show you the weather forecast based on your event’s location. Best of all directions to your next event are handled via the built-in Google Maps support (no Apple Maps here!).
Last but not least is Tempo. It’s a calendar app that’s likely to appeal most to the business users. That’s because it has an innovative feature that I’ve yet to find anywhere else – auto-conference call handling. No, seriously – it does that!
For instance, if you have a conference call event scheduled in Tempo when the time for that call comes around you simply tap a dial button and not only will Tempo call the conference number, but it will automatically input the dial-in passcode for you. It’s an incredibly useful feature for those who have multiple conference calls a day.
Besides the conference call dial-in feature Tempo has a host of other features including natural language input, five different calendar views (Agenda, Month, Day, Week and List), and the ability to send “running late” texts or emails to event attendees with just a tap.