Fantastical – a slick replacement to iPhone’s stock Calendar app [Review]

The built-in Calendar app on iOS does its job pretty well, but if you feel like having a change there are plenty of options out there. One of these is Fantastical. This app gives a simpler interface than the built-in app but doesn’t skimp on functionality. Read on to find out more.

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Upon first launching Fantastical, you are greeted by a tutorial that shows you how to get around the app with touch gestures. This is something I look out for in all apps because as more app rely on gestures rather than virtual buttons, the user interface becomes invisible – while this is convenient it can also make things inaccessible without a tutorial.

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If you’ve used Fantastical on the Mac, then you’ll glad to know that Fantastical’s powerful natural language parser has been ported to the iPhone. This means that you can say things like “Meet John tomorrow at 7 pm” and the app will automagically create a calendar event with the appropriate date and time, without having to go through the hassle of setting the date and time separately. The animations are also pretty cool, just like the Mac app, the words fly down from the entry field to the Calendar.

Before we go any further in this review, there’s something we should get out of the way. Fantastical does not have a day-view, whereas the built-in Calendar does. Fantastical probably isn’t for you if you rely on that mode. However, keep reading if you are an agenda-view junkie!

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When you launch the app it displays a scrollable horizontal menu, which Fantastical calls the DayTicker instead of the standard monthly calendar.

There are two primary panes in Fantastical. The lower and larger section gives a vertically scrolling list of your Calendar entries. The upper section scrolls horizontally – by default it shows a list of days which coloured bars to indicate the quantity of appointments. However, drag this section down slightly and you’ll reveal a search box, drag it down even further, and the section extends to show a month calendar. Swiping sideways moves from month to month.

You’ll find as you scroll through the agenda list that your position in the upper view (either days or month) will adjust accordingly. The reverse is true too; you can use the upper section to move quickly through the agenda view.

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Fantastical has full access to all the calendars added to your device, which means iCloud, Google, Exchange Active Sync, etc.

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An area in which Fantastical’s search interface surpasses the built-in Calendar app. Searching in the latter, automatically searches all event fields. However, Fantastical lets you search by title, location, invitees, or all fields. Those tabs allow you to be more specific than the built-in app. Search results come through in (what feels like) real time.

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A nice touch with Fantastical is that you can set its icon badge to either display the current date or the number of remaining appointments for the day. This is a neat touch and shows the developers are doing their best to match the privileges that the built-in Calendar has. I.e. Changing the icon every day to reflect the date.

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One of the limitations of Fantastical and any other third-party calendar app, through no faults of their own, is that calendar alerts from iOS launch the stock Calendar app rather than Fantastical. There is also no landscape mode or week view.

Fantastical costs $4.99 / £2.99 in the iTunes App store [Download]. It’s on the expensive side, but the natural language parser makes it worth every penny.

Examine the screenshots, because what you see is what you get with this app, which I think is a good thing in this case.

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  • ifonix

    look’s nice.. but 5$? seal it for 3$ and you’ll seal much more

  • GG Allin

    Do the calendar COLORS synch with iCloud?