Smartphones

Stay organized with Android calendaring apps

Deb Shinder takes a look at the built-in calendar that ships with Android, explains how to perform various calendaring functions, and offers some suggestions for third-party calendar apps.

One of the most important -- and sometimes most challenging -- aspects of a digital calendar is keeping it synchronized across different devices. You don't want to have to manually enter a new event or appointment separately on your phone, PC, tablet, and so forth. Fortunately, you can configure the Android calendar to sync with other calendars.

Synchronizing with Google calendar

When you first set up your Android device, you enter credentials for a Gmail account (or create a new one) that's used for many purposes, such as logging into the Android Market. This account includes a calendar, which will sync to your Android phone automatically unless you disable it (in the Calendars view settings page in Figure 5).

Synchronizing with Exchange

When you set up your Exchange account on your Android phone, it will automatically pull in your Exchange calendar items using the built-in ActiveSync. In the phone's main Settings menu, under the Accounts & sync setting (the name may vary depending on phone vendor and model), there should be an option to manage accounts, and here you can set it to sync your calendar along with your mail and contacts. You can select whether to sync as items arrive or at specified frequencies, or you can choose to manually synchronize.

Synchronizing with Outlook

If you use Outlook for calendaring on your PC without an Exchange account, it takes a little more effort to sync with your Android device. In this case, you can set up your Outlook calendar to sync with your Google calendar, which syncs with your phone's calendar. To do that, you'll need to download Google's Calendar Sync software.

Set it for "2-way sync" so that if new events are entered into either calendar, they will be copied to the other one. Set the sync interval as you wish. You can also manually sync from your PC by right-clicking the Google Sync icon that will be added to your taskbar notification area (system tray) and choosing Sync.

Third-party calendaring apps

The basic built-in calendar app gets the job done, but you might want more sophisticated functionality. In that case, you'll want to try out one or more of the additional calendar apps that are available in the Android Market.

Free calendar apps

Jorte is described as a "personal organizer," and it emulates the old paper organizers/planners. It has an attractive, if busy, view that shows you the monthly calendar, complete with events, a list of important events, and a Tasks & Memo section all on one page (as shown in Figure 8). Figure 8

The Jorte calendar gives you a lot of info all in one place

Jorte also supports landscape view. Its web site boosts the ability to use voice input to create events so you don't have to tediously type the information in, although you can use the voice input on the Android keyboard to do this with the built-in calendar, too. Phone numbers, locations, and URLs within a calendar entry are clickable. You can sync it with your Google calendar or use it in standalone mode.

Jack Wallen recommended five more free Android calendar apps and widgets in his post, "The five best Android calendar apps."

Paid calendar apps

One of the most popular replacement calendars for Android is Pocket Informant ($6.99 USD), which gives you many choices in calendar views and also lets you filter the items. You can set tasks and events, and see overdue tasks, uncompleted tasks, completed tasks, tasks without a completion date, etc.

Another favorite of many Android users is the Pro version of Business Calendar ($5.68 USD), which lets you zoom into multi-day views with tap and drag gestures, fade calendars in and out, search events, drag and drop to copy events, link contacts to an event, and change font sizes.

Calendaring on other platforms

If you use a different smartphone platform, such as iOS or Windows Phone 7, you'll find the same basic situation: a built-in calendar tool and additional calendar apps that you can download and install. This eHow.com article shows you the basics of setting up your calendar on the iPhone, and here's a video that shows you the built-in calendar feature on Windows Phone 7, which allows you to view your work and personal calendars separately or in integrated form.

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

3 comments
ken lillemo
ken lillemo

Smart Phone manufacturers have drunk the wireless provider Kool-Aid. The only option for any of these new phones is to sync with an online data store of some sort through the wireless connection. It used to be simple to synchronize your desktop client calendar and contacts with your smartphone. Since the phone needs to be recharged regularly, the synchronization generally came automatically as the USB to desktop connection served both roles. However, we no longer get to synch with an Outlook client, we can only synch with an exchange server that IT has granted permissions for, or an online gmail or Microsoft account. It may be understandable that Android does not sync with Outlook (unless the Outlook calendar is uploaded to gmail) but I am thoroughly flummoxed that Microsoft no longer supports synchronizing Outlook calendar and contacts through a simple USB connection with Win7 phones. Smartphone OS manufacturers should realize there is a large market that still uses desktop clients, or do not have access to a corporate mail system except through a local client. Any one of them that jumps to support these environments will have customers driven to their door.

Akilestar
Akilestar

You can do exactly what your asking. The phone in the picture appears to be an HTC Incredible. The first time that phone is plugged in it will offer to install HTC Sync to your computer. This software gives you the ability to sync your phone to your PC or Mac using the provided USB cable. HTC sync will work on any HTC phone, and other manufactures have similar products. Also I am little disappointed at this title. I incorrectly assumed you would be discussing several different calendar apps. Instead you explain in detail the default app and then 3 other apps in very short deail. Also the app you explain only comes on HTC Android phones, not all android phones. They do all have a calendar app, but not that one.

kschlotthauer
kschlotthauer

I was/am disappointed also. I thought it would discuss some cool Calendar apps, but only showed me what I already knew!. TechRepublic.....have some of your readers write articles every now and then. I heard someone say onetime "I will only hire lazy people, why you ask?, well, they always find easier ways to do the their job which saves me money in the end". Let your readers suggest apps and do an article on those!