Sometimes a product comes along that becomes so intertwined with your life, that you a) forget that it’s not actually part of the operating system and b) wonder if you can be objective anymore with it. For me, that product is Flexibits’ Fantastical for Mac. With its menu bar location and plain text creation of events, I haven’t touched Apple’s or any other calendar app since I got my copy over a year ago. I should also point out that it’s fully and seemlessly integrated with my Google and iCloud Calendars.
iOS is a different matter. There was no Fantastical and unlike the Mac, the iOS Calendar is pretty usable. Note the past tense on was. Fantastical for iPhone has arrived. Please also note the iPhone part. As of now, this is specifically for the pocket iOS devices. When asked, Flexibits had no comment on an iPad version.
The iPhone version is very similar to the Mac version, but also has a few features I’d like to see come back to the Mac. The base view is either a monthly calendar with a single day’s worth of events or a 5-day view with 1-2 days of events. The current date is circled in red. You scroll up on the calendar to toggle between views or access the search function. There is a mandatory tutorial when you first launch the app. The 5-day view also lets you scroll up and down to access the docket for past and future days on your calendar. You also can scroll left or right to change days on your 5-day view, or the month on the monthly. Also, in monthly view, it shows a dot for each calendar which has an event and shows a symbol for any birthdays.
Pressing the plus symbol allows to create events. It’s completely plain text. For instance, write “Meet John and Cali for lunch at 1:30-2:15pm at Freebirds restaurant” and Fantastical does the rest. It fills in titles, dates, names, places, and times. I’ve yet to have something that the Mac version failed to enter right and so far the iPhone version seems just as understanding of plain speech. All you have to set is the calendar you want it on and what alarms you want set. It really is that simple.
What are the downsides? There are a couple. First off is the aforementioned lack of iPad functionality. I don’t doubt it will come, perhaps as its own app, but I’m a little disappointed that it wasn’t there to begin with. Second, and this might be related to the first one, there is no landscape mode support. In Apple’s default calendar app, it switches modes when you turn your phone. With Fantastical, you just look at your portrait text sideways. Lastly, in five day, switching back to the 6-week calendar can be a pain. Switching to the monthly from the 5-day is pretty easy though.
Fantastical for iPhone is a 1.0 release, but it’s a very good 1.0 that’s built on an exceptional base. This is my new calendar app and I’d highly recommend you grab yourself a copy as well. For its launch, it’s $1.99 on the App Store, but that will go up. If you’re a Mac user, the Mac version is $9.99 on the Mac App Store or direct from Flexibits. There’s also a free trial. Android, Windows Phone, Windows, and Linux users, you’re out of luck.