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 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.