So long iCal, hello Google Calendar
That's right, as a .Mac customer and lover of 3-plus years, I am tossing iCal and its syncing ability aside for the innovative and ultimately easier to use beauty that is Google Calendar. Sharing calendars and events is so much simpler on the gCal side of the fence, especially since the invited guests can leave comments on the event right at Google Calendar without the need for some obnoxious service like Evite.
More to the meat of the matter, Google Calendar's 'Quick Add' takes the chore out of adding an event to my schedule, inviting me to do it a little more often to make I stay all the more on top of things. In gCal, I can hit the letter 'q' to open a small dialog box into which I can type an event name, time and date almost as if I were telling someone about it in an email: 'dinner with Jessi 6 pm 4/22' adds the event right where it should go. As icing on the Quick Add cake, date spanning works too: 'Half Life 2 Therapy Camp April 22-24' creates an event that spans properly. No obnoxious tabbing around to set dates and times right, and no mousing to drag little event boxes. Call me crazy, but I'm starting to believe that some desktop app developers could learn a few things from this kind of simplicity that is found in many of today's web-based apps and services.
Google Calendar's multiple and customizable notification features sealed the deal for me. Email, SMS and popping up the browser window (if gCal is open) are all available for various notification types like events, new, changed or canceled invitations, replies to invitations and even a daily agenda email reminder that sends you a roundup of the day's events. Hawk Wings points to a blog post by Jeff Hobbs who puts it quite nicely: "it’s like Google just hired a personal secretary for everyone on Earth." Sweet, I've always wanted a secretary. Unfortunately, there is one seriously lacking feature in Google Calendar's 'secretary factor': as of yet, there is no 'pick up a latte from Starbucks' option. Maybe someone can whip up a Greasemonkey script or plug-in?
Caffeine addictions aside, you can top this all off with the 'access and edit from anywhere' factor since Google Calendar is web-based, and Gmail automatically parses email for events to add to Google Calendar (*ahem* iCal/Mail.app engineers!), and I'm already forgetting what iCal looked like.
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