For some, iCal is a powerful enough tool for schedule management. It keeps track of personal calendars, provides reminders of appointments and to-dos, and even syncs with iOS devices. Some of us, however, want a little bit more out of our calendar application. That’s why we use Google Calendar. Multi-user calendars facilitate collaboration and group scheduling, group tasks help organize teams of workers, and cloud-based agendas can be accessed from anywhere.
Calendars is a Google Calendar client from the folks at Readdle that brings a lot of those features you love to your iPad. But with the Google Calendar web interface available on iPad, is it necessary?
Finding Your Way Around
When you launch Calendars, you’ll be prompted to sync the app with either a local calendar (iCal) or a Google Calendar account. For the sake of this review, we’ll sync to my Google Calendar account.
Once synced, you’ll be able to view your calendar and appointments in a variety of views. The View bar at the top of the screen lets you select one of a series of standard calendar views you would expect from an application like Calendars: Day, Week, Month, and Year. There is also a List view, but we’ll talk more about that later.
Each of these views is navigable by swiping to the left or right to move forward or backward (a gesture most of us have gotten used to by now), or by using the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. Either drag the bar left and right, or tap the arrows on either end of the bar to navigate. The calendar icon in the bottom right corner of the screen (which seems to change based on the current date–a nice touch) will jump to today.
Calendars makes it easy to show/hide calendar groups on the fly, so you can focus on information you need now. The calendar icon in the upper left corner of the screen will open a drop-down menu where you can check and un-check certain calendars.
Calendars can, in addition to Google Calendar sync, handle the management of local calendars and events. As you might expect, the local calendars (pre-set with “personal”, “home”, “work”, etc.) are all color coded, just like you would find in iCal.
Unfortunately, Calendars recognizes your synced Google Calendar account as one calendar group, regardless of how your events are categorized on the web interface. In my opinion, this is not a problem that is easy to ignore, especially for an app that touts itself as a Google Calendar client. If my only intent is to sync it with my online account, why should I have to deal with all of my events being the same color and in the same category?
(A brief aside: I attempted on several occasions to move such events from my Google account calendar group to a local group, and upon saving the event, experienced app crashes. The app is not without bugs, but the dev may iron them out in the future.)
One last view worth mentioning is the List view. In typical calendar app fashion, Calendars’ List view will display your upcoming appointments and events in chronological order in the right-hand pane of the screen. However, Calendars supports Google Tasks, and will display your synced tasks in the left pane of the screen.
While the calendar group management appears to be a bit wonky, Calendars handles the creating and editing of specific events and appointments much more smoothly. To create a task on the current day, from any view, simply tap the “+” in the upper right hand corner of the screen. The event creation window will pop up, allowing you to input details for the event.
From this window you can select a calendar group in which to place the event, as well as set a reminder, or add attendees (if you’re using a collaborative calendar). I was particularly impressed by the integration of Google Calendar’s reminder functionality into Calendars. You can set a reminder to issue you an alert (on the iPad), an email, or an SMS message.
In addition to the standard event creation pop-up, there is also a quick-add window, which streamlines event creation. Punch in the name and make sure the time is right, and tap save. The other details can be sorted out later.
Finally, Calendars supports on-the-fly rearrangement by allowing you to drag and drop events on your calendar. Tap and hold an event, and then drag it to the desired location in order to move it. Since this is particularly easy to do, Readdle has added a useful “undo” feature. After an edit, a bar will appear at the top of the screen with an “undo” button, and will remain there for 5 seconds. I’ll admit that I had to undo a few changes as I went.
While working with Calendars, I couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t quite the right tool for me. I don’t think that Readdle has necessarily made a sub-par application, but I think that the implemented feature set may have inadvertently geared the app toward a specific type of power user. The interface is, for the most part, well executed, and the app’s offline functionality certainly made it more usable on my wi-fi only iPad.
The bottom line: if you’re a hyper-organized business person (just a scheduling junkie) who constantly manages personal and collaborative calendars, then Calendars might be right for you. If you just need to remember your dentist appointment or the new episode of that TV show you like, there’s probably a calendar app that’s better suited for you.
Let us know in the comments if you prefer Calendars, iCal, or even the sweet, paper nostalgia of a dayplanner.