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Fantastical for iPhone a fast, good-looking alternative to Calendar

Fantastical for iPhone a fast, goodlooking alternative to CalendarFlexibits has released Fantastical for iPhone (half-off at US$1.99 for a limited time), a mobile companion to its popular calendaring solution for the Mac (here's our review of Fantastical for Mac). I've been using it for a few days and quite enjoying it. Fantastical for iPhone makes it super easy to enter an event by supporting natural language, and the UI is beautiful. A couple of little niceties that I'll describe later in this review make it a pleasure to use. Here's my look at Fantastical for iPhone 1.0.

Looks

Fantastical for iPhone shares many visual cues with its desktop sibling, which helps it "feel" like Fantastical for Mac. For instance, two "staples" hold the same red border in place. The current date is circled in the "Day Ticker" (more on that later) and the date list uses the same color-coded dots to indicate which calendar an event is tied to. Finally, color-coded event duration indicators appear beneath each date, giving you a sense of how long an event will occur (timed vs. all day). Those who like Fantastical on the Mac will feel at home with the iPhone version.

Use

Entering an event is super easy, thanks to Fantastical's support for natural language. To create a new event, follow these brief steps:

  1. Tap the "+" in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Enter the specifics. For example, "Oil change on Saturday at 3:00" or "Chorus practice next Friday at 2:00."
  3. Tap Done.

Often times, these three simple steps will suffice, which is great. You can set up a repeating event just as easily. For example, "Cub Scout meeting Wednesday at 6:30 repeat every week" will create an unending repeating event. Pretty nice. For super-fast entry, tap the dictation icon!

Those interested in adding more detail can tap Show Details before completing step three above. This brings up an edit screen much like that in Apple's Calendar. Use it to add a title, location, start and stop time (vs. all day), repeat specifics or an alert. You can also assign that event to a given calendar, select your own availability and record an associated URL or notes.

Reviewing events is straightforward. The title bar shows the current month. Beneath that is the Day Ticker, which provides an overview of a five-day period: today, two days past and two days ahead. Swipe this in either direction to move back or forward.

Something I really like in the Day Ticker the slight magnification on the current date. It's dead-center, highlighted ever so slightly and draws your eye right in. You can't help but notice it, and completely eliminates a search for the current day. Very thoughtful.

If you'd rather see the full month, pull down on the Day Ticker to replace it with an overview of the current month. And yes, you can swipe left and right to move month to month.

The search field is in there, too (pull down just part way). It lets you search by title, location, invitees or any part of the event. It's quite fast in my experience.

Another nicety lets you tap the title bar at any time to return to the current day. I love it. Finally, events in the timeline beneath the row of dates show an event's associated calendar color, title, location and start / end time. Breaks between days are also indicated. It works very well as an at-a-glance calendar.

Settings

Tap the gear icon to fiddle with the settings. You'll find:

  1. An option to make the Day Ticker or Calendar the default.
  2. Pick which calendars to display.
  3. Identify your preferred start of the week.
  4. Switch event end time display on or off.
  5. Turn calendar weeks on or off.

There's a help section, too.

Wish List

I wish I could set an alert with natural language. Also, I wish I could turn Fantastical on its side for a full-screen monthly overview. Perhaps in a future update.

Conclusion

Fantastical for iPhone is fast, good-looking and very useful as an at-a-glance overview of what tasks and appointments await you. Navigation is clear and little niceties make it a pleasure to use. Add a full-screen landscape calendar overview and I'll be ga-ga for it. Try it yourself while it's on sale for 50 percent off. I suspect you'll be glad you did.

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