Calendar Alarm: Your Alarm Clock for Events

If there’s one feature that we love to use our iPad for, it’s the calendar. Whilst the calendar app might not be to everybody’s taste, what with all the fine Corinthian leather, there are hundreds of alternative calendar apps in the App Store, each with their own ideas and features. Having used many alternative calendar apps over the years on my iPad, I can’t help but feel that we’ve gotten to the point where there aren’t really any new or original features in some of these apps and are simply providing an alternative look and feel.

Calendar Alarm attempts to buck this trend, combining all the features of a traditional calendar app with a unique way of dealing with event alerts that makes it rather unique.

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If It Ain’t Broke…

The interface is very reminiscent of the built-in iOS calendar app. In fact, the day view is almost identical, with the month overview located on the left instead of the right. The same can be said of the month view, providing a similar appearance.

Calendar Alarm's interface appears to be what the default iOS calendar app would be if it weren't covered in leather

Calendar Alarm’s interface appears to be what the default iOS calendar app would be if it weren’t covered in leather

Unlike Calendar, however, you can’t tap on any day in the month view and jump to the date. You can tap-and-hold to create an event but if you’ve got a day coming up with a lot of events that you want to check, you’ll have to go into the day planner and then select the date manually.

The list view, again, provides a similar experience to the default calendar app in iOS, but with one notable exception. It has its own Notification Center-style pane that will display all alerts from the last 24 hours.

A Notification Center-style pane is available to provide information about the last 24 hours of alerts

A Notification Center-style pane is available to provide information about the last 24 hours of alerts

The week view is broken up into two different types, a 7-day planner that provides 6 boxes (the last divided in two for the weekend) and a more familiar spreadsheet-style appearance.

There are a lot of options that can be customised within Calendar Alarm, with many settings ranging from what you’d like your new event default options to be to how big you want the font on the screen. Additionally, there are some colour scheme options that can be selected to let you personalise the app further.

A good number of settings provides a level of customisability not present in some other calendar apps

A good number of settings provides a level of customisability not present in some other calendar apps

You can customise the default alarm options as well as the snooze time when you want to defer an event alert.

Event Management

Adding events uses the default iOS event picker that you see in many calendar apps and the built-in one, so you get all the benefits of being able to add invitees, set availability, select the calendar to use and more.

The ability to copy an event makes adding events that don't necessarily need to be repeating very easy to do

The ability to copy an event makes adding events that don’t necessarily need to be repeating very easy to do

Calendar Alarm builds upon this when editing an existing event by adding some genuinely useful options, my favourite of which is the ability to copy an event. For example, if you’ve just had lunch with a friend today and arranged to do it again at the same time next week, you could either add a new event from scratch or simply tap “copy event” and then just change the event’s date. All of the event’s details are already filled in and you just simply save the changes.

A quick alert reminder can be set up so you don't need to specify exact times for alarms

A quick alert reminder can be set up so you don’t need to specify exact times for alarms

Another useful feature is a quick-add of alerts. You can usually only add one or two alerts to an event within iOS, but Calendar Alarm lets you specify any number of different alerts using an alert shortcut and o

Red Alert!

Notifications are presented on your iPad's display and swiping them will launch the app

Notifications are presented on your iPad’s display and swiping them will launch the app

Perhaps, rather unsurprisingly, the core feature of Calendar Alarm is it’s alert system. Instead of relying upon the default calendar alerts in iOS, which will just open the built-in calendar app, Calendar Alarm treats calendar alerts like a true alarm, offering a repeating alert tone that won’t stop. When an alert is triggered, you can swipe to open the event directly in Calendar Alarm where you’re able to not only stop the alarm but also snooze it. Have an important event in a few hours but need to be quickly reminded? You can simply snooze the alarm for any duration you wish and it will trigger again.

Once you receive an alarm reminder, you can either dismiss it or snooze it for an amount of time that you specify

Once you receive an alarm reminder, you can either dismiss it or snooze it for an amount of time that you specify

The app uses local notifications rather than push so any alerts can go off even without an internet connection. Whilst iOS does this as well, some calendar alarm apps use push notifications that require you to have an internet connection.

False Alarm

Unfortunately, this is where Calendar Alarm stumbles somewhat. Due to how the app is designed and limitations of iOS, the app has to create its own alarms based upon any events in your calendar. Now, since iOS apps don’t have any form of true multitasking, it can only do this when the app is open. If you’re only method of calendar interaction is Calendar Alarm then you won’t have any problem. If you use any other calendar app or another device like an iPhone or Mac, however, none of the events and alerts will be recognised by Calendar Alarm until you next launch the app. For multi-device users, you’ll need to launch the app every time you add an event on another device to your calendar. Thankfully, Calendar Alarm is a universal app so you can install it on your iPhone as well as no additional charge.

This is actually explained as soon as you run the app for the first time as it needs to be open for it to notice any new events and generate the required alerts. You have to make some changes to your iPad’s Notification settings, manually turn off alerts for Calendar and then ensure the correct settings are enabled for Calendar Alarm.

It’s a rather clunky way of dealing with alerts but due to the restrictive nature of iOS, it’s just how it is.

Conclusion

Calendar Alarm is a fine calendar app for iOS. It’s clean appearance and ease of use in mimicking much of iOS’ built-in calendar app makes it a simple app to use. Its clever event copying functionality and ease at which to set alerts makes it a definite app to consider if you’re looking for something that can provide alarm clock-style alerts for calendar events.

The biggest feature of Calendar Alarm is its alarm functionality, but because of the way it works (due to iOS restrictions), it might not be for everyone. If you are often adding events on multiple devices, you’ll need to remember to launch the app every time you add or edit an event for the changes to be noticed or else risk missing that all-important meeting.


Summary

A well-made calendar app with some useful functionality, especially when it comes to creating alerts and duplicating events. Limitations within iOS and the app will mean that if you're using other calendar apps or devices then you'll need to remember to refresh the alarms by launching the app regularly, something that could prove disastrous if you forget and have that all-important meeting to attend.

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