Review of the iPad App Fantastical

I’ve had an iPad for several years and have talked before about how I use it in my day to day work as a professor and some of the applications (apps) that I prefer.

In that blog post from last November, I was using the app Week Cal as my calendar of choice. A few months ago there was a software update and a giant black bar of doom started appearing across the screen in the app. At first it was merely annoying and I figured that the next update would solve the problem. Nope. I contacted the company and was told that it was happening because I was using an iPhone app on an iPad. This was stated matter of factly and it was very clear that there was no motivation or desire to fix this particular issue. Based on that interaction I started my search for a new calendar app for iPad.

Originally my goal was to get something for free that would get the job done because I like a good deal. The Apple calendar app is o.k., but I find that entering things in is a bit clunky. I also used an app called Sunrise for a few weeks which was a step up from Apple’s offering, but I still wasn’t really happy. A few quick searches of some of my favourite productivity blogs (Asian Efficiency , LifeHacker yielded an interesting possibility. Many readers on those two sites recommended an app called Fantastical.

First of all I loved the name FastastiCAL because I am all about horrible puns and plays on words. There are two major advantages to this app based on my usage of it for ~2 weeks. The first is the layout of the calendar. The top half of the screen shows you a weekly view and by pulling down on this panel you can expand it to fill the screen. The bottom half is filled by two panels; the one of the left shows you a rolling log of the events that you have coming up or recently completed, and the right panel is a monthly view. The second major advantage is that entering events is a breeze because you can type them in sentence form and have the event appear in your calendar. For example, if I typed in “Meet Carla for lunch at McDonald’s on Sept. 29” an appointment with Carla from 12-1 p.m. at McDonald’s would appear on my calendar for Sept. 29th. This saves me a ton of time and also makes entering recurring appointments very simple. An added bonus that I really appreciate is that you can move around in your calendar when adding events so you can avoid double booking yourself, or can look up what you already have planned for a particular day. There is also the ability to add events to your calendar verbally, but I haven’t tried that option yet.

One caveat is that I don’t use Outlook for my calendar scheduling, so I’m not sure if the app is compatible with that program. I do believe that it interfaces with Google though.

The other drawback is that the app isn’t cheap compared to other calendars that are free or a few dollars to purchase, however based on my use of the app over the past few weeks it’s been worth every penny for me. Fantastical also comes for iPhone and I may look at putting it on that device in the upcoming weeks.

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