In August 2011 our own Scott Danielson reviewed Calendars, which he called a “powerful Google Calendar client for iPad, but with it’s unique feature set and functionality, it might be a bit too much app for the casual scheduler.” Since his review, the team at Readdle have been quite busy releasing updates at a feverish pace (averaging nearly two updates per month). Being one that enjoys going back to the well (obviously not my own) every so often, I gave Calendars a second test run to see if Readdle could improve upon an already impressive replacement for the first-party Calendars app.
Has the app been streamlined to appeal towards casual users? Have the necessary features been added to make it the de facto calendar app? Find out after the jump.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about apps in the past year that I’ve been writing for AppStorm is that they never stop changing. Most go through a major revamp at least once a year (if not sooner), and I’m always excited to get my hands on updated ones, hoping I’ll be able to appreciate what most likely took countless hours to complete by developers. With that in mind, let’s look at the changes Readdle has made to Calendars, shall we?
The most obvious update since Danielson’s initial review is Calendars’ new minimal interface. The previous version sported a nice UI that was infused with some minor skeuomorphism (and a lot of orange), but the new design is simply gorgeous. The sleek, minimalistic style is on par with design elements being used in Google’s newer design scheme, but in many ways, Calendars’ design is much better.
In terms of where UI elements are located, not much has changed. You can quickly access all of your individual calendars by tapping the Calendar icon in the top left corner of the screen. Adding a new event is still achieved by tapping the + icon in the top right corner, and you can toggle the different calendar views (List, Day, Week, Month, Year) in the top navigation bar by tapping the desired button. The Options and Today icons are still in their respective places in the bottom section of the screen.
The only new UI element is the current date that’s displayed opposite of the calendar view buttons in the top navigation bar, which is only displayed in the List and Day views. If you’re using the Week view, you’ll see the dates that encompass the current week, as well as the week number in relation to the year (e.g. last week of the year is 52).
Google Calendar Categories
One of the main issues Danielson expressed in his review dealt with a user’s synced Google Calendar account being displayed as one calendar group, regardless of how events were categorized in Google Calendar itself. When I synced up my Google Calendar account, I was able to view each of my individual categories without issue.
While the method for activating the New Event feature hasn’t changed, the method for inputting an event’s information has. For starters, the New Event window has been redesigned into a much smaller package, allowing you to see each field without needing to scroll. While this may seem like a minor change, I found it to be very handy. The reorganization of fields improves the flow of creating a new event, which is always important when you’re talking about a calendar app.
In addition to a redesigned New Event window, the controls used to enter the Begins and Ends times for a new event have been customized for Calendars. Instead of using the baked-in iOS controls, the new controls offer a sleek and sophisticated approach by allowing you to select the hour (daytime hours on top and nighttime hours on bottom) and then minutes (in five-minute increments).
If you’re adding an all-day event, tap the All-Day button and a new control panel will transition on screen. From here, month long calendars for the previous, current and following month display, allowing you to simply tap on the desired date and then tapping the Done button. Calendars certainly isn’t the first app to use a customized control scheme for the event creation function (Agenda is another app that touts a similar feature), but in my experience it’s certainly the app of the best implementation.
Tap & Hold to Add an Event
One of the features Danielson discussed was a the quick-add window that allowed you to create an event quickly, without all the details. That feature has been removed in favor of a tap and hold version that works really well. The feature is available in the Day, Week and Month view and activating it is achieved by (you guessed it) tapping and holding on-screen. If you’re in the Month view, simply tap and hold on a date and a new event identifier will appear. Once you let go, a semi-streamlined version of the New Event window pops-up, and includes all the options in main New Event window.
While adding a new event to a specific date is handy, this feature is even better in the Day and Week views. Say you have a meeting a 2:30 p.m. and you want to create an event for said meeting. If you tap in hold on screen, a new event identifier will appear (as with the Month view); what’s different though, is that the times displayed along the left-hand side will dim, except for the time you are currently selecting. As you move up and down the hours, you’ll see fifteen-minute increments appear between the hours, making it incredibly easy to set your Begins time.
The Bottom Line
Danielson didn’t find Calendars to be the right tool for his needs, stating that the app’s implemented feature set “may have inadvertently geared the app toward a specific type of power user.” I certainly use a calendar to make note of certain events, but I assure you I’m not a power user. With that said, I found Calendars to be a very enjoyable calendar app that provides a lot of great and easy-to-use features. Agenda was my go-to calendar app up until this review, but Calendars has stolen its place on my iPad.
If your only experience is using the first-party Calendar app, a transition to Calendars won’t be very jarring. In fact, when you compare the interface in both apps, you’ll find a lot of similar design elements (minus the skeuomorphic design). Some users will instantly be turned off by the $6.99 price tag, but it’s worth noting that the app is universal, which offers a lot of value for iPad and iPhone owners.