Google Goodies: Google Calendar
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By: Anthony Sullivan
Continuing our series of content pieces covering Google’s varied suite of tools and software, we review Google Calendar this month.
In February, Google announced Google Apps Premium, a new way to use many of the services Google has offered for a while plus a couple of new ones. Google Calendar is included with Google Apps Premium and is, by my reckoning, a pretty slick Web service. Let’s take a look.
As you can see again, I’m starting from the familiar Google search page. It has changed a bit since my last look, with the addition of a menu bar at the top.
To access Google Calendar, click on More, then select Calendar.
You’ll need a valid Google account to use Google Calendars. If you don’t have one, you can click Create a new Google Account to create one. If you already have one, type in your credentials and click Sign-in.
Ready to go!
The next thing you should see is your calendar. Its layout is pretty straightforward and similar to many calendar offerings out there. Items of note are the tabs for changing views and the list of calendars on the lower left. If you add additional calendars later, you can show and hide each one by clicking the arrow next to it.
Creating an Event
To create an event, simply click on the calendar and a slick little window appears where you can input the basic details of your event.
Type your event details in the What field and click Create Event.
Google has added parsing to this field so that if you were to type “Meeting with A. Soprano at Luigi’s,” Google would know to put Luigi’s in the location for the event.
After clicking Create Event, we can now see our event on the calendar.
We can click and drag the event around if we need to change the time of it.
Left-clicking on the event will show additional information and allow us to edit the details of the event.
Here we can edit more details of the event including time span and recurrence.
You can easily add guests to the event as well and Google will e-mail them an invitation. If they aren’t Google users, the invitation is sent in the Microsoft Office meeting request format. This is quite handy for coordinating events with multiple people.
Once you’ve changed what you need to change, you can click Save to continue or Cancel to undo your changes.
One of the gems in Google Calendar is the ability to add public and private calendars to your screen. This way you can coordinate your calendar with another’s or simply add public events such as your favorite sports team’s schedule to your calendar with ease. You can also import calendar data from other applications like Microsoft Outlook.
Importing a Calendar
To import calendar data from another application such as Microsoft Outlook, you must provide the exported data in either iCAL or CSV format.
Browse to find the file, then select the calendar into which you want to import your data. Finally, click Import. Pretty simple.
More General Settings
Google Calendar can show the weather forecast on your calendar. The settings for this are also configured here.
I like to be connected so I really love this feature. Google Calendar allows you to set up a mobile phone number for text message alerts to be sent.
To prevent abuse, you must supply a verification code that is sent to your phone.
I don’t recommend setting this up if you don’t have unlimited text messages, since text message alerts are subject to charges from your cell phone provider.
As I mentioned earlier, you can add public and private calendars to your personal Google Calendar. Searching for Louisville, my home town, I can see that there are several public calendars available. When you find the calendar you want to add, simply click Add to Calendar.
Managing your calendars
As you can see, I’ve added the Louisville Fire event dates calendar to my personal calendar. The Louisville Fire is a local Arena Football team.
If I uncheck the box next to Louisville Fire Event Dates, it will hide these events from view. Rechecking will show them again.
I’m not a fan of that, color though. Fortunately, if I want to change it, I can click on the arrow drop-down button next to the calendar to choose another.
This is a great way for you to see different types of events at one time.
You can also access other calendar-specific settings like notifications from this drop down.
Now it's blue!
That about sums up what Google Calendars is about. The interface is slick and intuitive. Google is a big cheerleader for the AJAX technology that makes their interfaces flow like real applications instead of web apps.
Google Calendars is another example of the state of the art Web application design we’ve come to expect out of the Google R&D shop. It does not disappoint.