Fantastical for iPhone

My first and only thought when I heard about Fantastical for the iPhone: I wonder how that app translates…

I wasn’t very excited and because I like Agenda I wasn’t yearning for a new iPhone calendar app.

Time passed, and my love for Agenda began to wain from love to like — nothing major, just realizing it wasn’t a perfect solution for me. Then I was contacted by Micheal Simmons, asking if I would like to check out Fantastical for the iPhone in advance.

I was sent a copy of Fantastical for iPhone to test out. Again, I didn’t know what to expect, but wasn’t that excited over the prospect of the app because I didn’t think it would be as great on the iPhone as it is on the Mac. Reason being: natural language input on the Mac is easy, but on the iPhone I’m skeptical about the utility.

Fantastical for the iPhone is awesome.

The Good

The app is fast and light, so it just pops open as you would expect. The icon is what I expected and is nothing great, but it’s also not blue, so let’s just consider that a win for everyone.

The icon.

What I really love is the date picker (not the design). I love that I can slide the date picker to get an overview of how busy my schedule is all without having to look at the appointment names and times. I can see that my Thursday is loaded up in the afternoon, that Friday has an all day event, and so on. It’s a very nice way to get an overview, without having to be overwhelmed by the who-what-when-where of calendars.

Main view.

And of course you can enter new events with natural language — which isn’t new on the iPhone, but is still pretty nice. So even though I was very skeptical about the utility of natural language input on the iPhone in reality Fantastical implements it very well. I love the way the data is pulled from your natural language string to give you a glance-able confirmation that Fantastical has it right — this is done better than it is on the Mac.

Natural language feedback.

Even better is that with one tap you can get a more normal looking event entry screen. A lot of my appointments are entered via Siri these days, however it is really nice to have this option for those times when I can’t lecture Siri.

There’s also a little hidden gem: if you just give a light tug down on the date picker, the app will reveal a search bar. Yes, searching isn’t new — but I bet you will love how it is implemented.

Search!

In Fantastical you can search everything, or by: Title, Location, and Invitees. This is a killer feature if you are trying to find the last time you met Sally at your office. (To those that never have to recall meetings, this isn’t much of a feature, but for those that do this is awesome.)

The Not Very Good

There’s not a lot of bad things, but there is one thing that I don’t think is very good. The action from moving to and from the day picker view to the month view is not very good.

The action is a swipe down on the days which makes a lot of sense, so when you want to rid yourself of the day view what do you do?

Swipe up? Nope.

Same swipe down? Yep.

Maybe I am the only one that finds that counter intuitive, but I stumble when I am switching between the two. It’s not horrible, and with more use I’ll get used to it, but this doesn’t follow the normal iOS app conventions and really bugs me.

The Ugly

I wasn’t aware that there are problems with app title bars falling from the top of the screen to the bottom, so it is a little unsettling to see two (what I assume are) staples holding the app title bar up.

The staples.

Yes, the textures and “real calendar” feel have always been a Fantastical thing, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The Wishes

My absolute biggest wish is for the app to allow me to turn off the calendar color dots that appear next to each event. I use one calendar for everything and would love to clean up the UI with the absence of those dots.

My second wish is for a little better design of the event details screen — it is iOS standard as far as I can tell and I would hope for a more consistent look as it seems like an after thought as it is.

The Wrap

Overall this is a really solid app. It’s on my iPhone home screen now and for an introductory price of $1.99 I can’t see how you could go wrong with this app. Even with the staples, I love Fantastical for iPhone.

Originally posted for members on: November 29, 2012
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