My favorite calendar app for iOS is Fantastical. A year ago, the popular iPhone calendar app came to the iPad, super-sizing an app that was meant to be a full replacement for the standard iOS calendar app from Apple.
On the Mac, however, Fantastical was more of a utility, since it came out a few years ago. It sat in the menu bar offering quick access to user calendars, plus the natural language parser that makes Fantastical so useful on all platforms.
Rather than setting up a new event by clicking a bunch of drop-down boxes to select start time, end time, date, and location, users can type using normal English.
For example, instead of creating a calendar event and typing "Lunch with Al" for a title, then moving to the location field to type "The Palace Restaurant," then manually setting start and end times, including the date — an overly complicated process — Fantastical has users type "Lunch with Al at The Palace at noon on Thursday." The app then figures out what the users mean, displaying changes on the fly so that the users can be sure they're entering the event properly, and adds it to the calendar.
At the end of the day, Fantastical for Mac was just a menulet, so users would still need to use the standard calendar app (or a third-party alternative) to look at full-screen, large-windowed views of calendars and events. Well, with Fantastical 2, that little menulet has gone full-size.
Fantastical 2 for Mac, launched yesterday, is a massive rewrite that includes a full calendar window with day, week, month, and year views, as well as the traditional Fantastical menulet drop-down (which is now detachable from the menubar to make a floating window).
With an OS X Yosemite-inspired design, the app requires the latest version of Apple's Mac operating system. Fantastical supports a number of useful features, including a Today Widget, share extensions, and Handoff support that allows users to seamlessly move between Fantastical on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
The parsing engine has been updated with more options, such as the ability to repeat events in new ways like "every weekend," "the last weekday of the month," and more. It also gains a Japanese-language parser to go with the existing English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
Another useful feature is Calendar sets, which allows users to change entire sets of calendars at once without needing to manually click them individually — like switching between work and family calendar groups. There are also options for location-based calendars, which allows users to automatically switch groups when a laptop is brought from home to work, for example. Very clever.
Fantastical uses its own CalDAV-syncing engine, and users can pull data from iCloud, Google, Yahoo, and other CalDAV or Exchange accounts. Calendar data is pulled from the calendars that are already set up on the Mac's System Preferences panel.
With full-screen views and the removable menulet, the app is flexible too, displaying as much or as little information as needed, with an elegant and beautiful design that fits in well with OS X Yosemite.
Reminder/to-do list support allows users to create new reminders with the natural language parser by starting sentences with "reminder," "todo," "task," or "remind me to." They can also have dates, times, and location-based geofences attached, such as "remind me to pick up milk when I leave work."
Since it launched yesterday, Fantastical has reached number 1 on the top paid list on the App Store and number three on the top grossing list.
If you use a calendar frequently on your Mac or iOS device, I recommend you to give Fantastical a try. What calendar app do you prefer on your Apple devices? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
- Fantastical, one of the best iPhone calendar apps, is now on the iPad
- Want a solid Android calendar app with style? Try Cal
- ZDNet: A tour of the hardware connected to my Macs
- ZDNet: Utilities to make your Mac better, faster, and more productive
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.