After bringing natural language input to the mobile calendar experience with Fantastical for iPhone last November, Flexibits today released a brand new version of what was already my absolute favorite calendar app.
Fantastical 2 delivers an all new design made just for iOS 7 as well as numerous new features like Reminders support, dark and light themes, landscape support for week view, and much more.
I’ve been using Fantastical 2 for the past few weeks, and below I’ll show you why it’s my go-to calendar for iPhone.
Typically, I’m not crazy about replacing default apps with third party offerings (especially since iOS doesn’t allow setting default apps yet), but I happily make a huge exception for Fantastical for iPhone.
Simply put, it’s the calendar Apple should have built, and with it’s iOS 7-inspired redesign and new features, Flexibits has delivered the most powerful, yet straightforward calendar again.
In redesigning Fantastical for iPhone, Flexibits preserved the established look and feel of the app while showcasing the details that matter most.
For example, the glass viewer in the horizontal DayTicker now focuses on the left rather than the center allowing you to see more upcoming dates. When you scroll vertically through your appointments, the focus is almost always on the left, so while this change seems trivial on the surface, in practice it’s quite pleasant.
Overall, the new user interface feels much more polished and modern. For someone who appreciates the design language of iOS 7, it’s a valuable update.
In the spirit of choice, Fantastical 2 brings support for dark and light themes as well. I’ve been using the light theme, which is a toggle found in the settings, but the dark theme (which is default) is really slick and keeps with the character of the previous generation and current Mac app.
Fantastical 2 also brings support for landscape orientation with a scrollable week view. This view is quite similar to the native Calendar app, but adds support for Reminders, something new to version 2.
Aside from the new design, Fantastical 2 includes an extended keyboard on 4″ display devices that makes accessing numbers, slash, and colon really seamless. The benefit of accessing numerals and the colon is obvious for inputting times, but the slash is especially helpful if you input entries for calendars other than your default calendar. (It’s amazing how much more swift your workflow is when you save a few taps.)
If you don’t dig the new cards layout in Reminders on iOS 7, Fantastical 2 also brings integration for managing your reminders items. Simply begin a text line with “todo/task/reminder/remind me to” or use the calendar/reminder toggle seen in the screen shot above, and you have the function of two apps in one. From natural language input to viewing tasks with appointments, this addition the Fantastical is really exciting and worth checking out.
Overall, Fantastical 2 is a very polished and feature-packed successor to the initial version that brought Fantastical to the iPhone. It requires iOS 7 which means it supports features like Background App Refresh, Dynamic Type, and 64-bit optimization.
With its brand-new design and feature set, Fantastical 2 is a new app purchase for $2.99 at launch and $4.99 soon after, so grab it from the App Store while it’s on sale!
Most social media sites will allow you to communicate to a specific individual, an entire group of online friends that happen to use the service, or absolutely everyone in the world at the same time. But what if you want to communicate to a smaller, specific group of individuals just for one special event? These individuals may or may not be part of your online social group of close friends and the event may not last forever. For such occasions, there are several different ways in iOS 7 to create a personal short-term group and keep your communication private within that group.
The following five examples are among the best ways to do so in iOS 7.
Sharing iCloud’s iCalendars
The Calendar app allows you to view multiple calendars from multiple accounts all at once. Creating additional calendars can help keep your events organized. It can also help keep your private events separate from your shared events. To create a new iCloud calendar, tap on the word “Calendar” at the bottom of the screen from within the Calendar app. Edit the list of calendars and tap on “Add Calendar” for your iCloud account. Be sure to use a name that you will want to share with others. When you are done you will see the new calendar in your list of calendars.
Next to each calendar in the list you will see an information button that looks like the letter “i” inside a circle. Tap on the information button to reveal the details of the calendar. This is where you can add contacts that you want to share the calendar with. Once a new contact is added, they will be sent a notification that they will need to accept before they can access the calendar’s events. Also when reviewing the details of the calendar, tapping on each contact you have added to the calendar will show whether or not each contact can edit the calendar. This allows others to add and remove events from the calendar you just created.
Group messaging with iMessages
When sending a message in iMessage, rather than copy and paste the same message multiple times over, simply add an additional contact to the message. You can actually send one text message to several recipients at a time. By tapping on the plus sign in the “To:” of a new message, you can add additional contacts to your iMessage.
Keep in mind that this does not send out three individual messages. Instead you will send out one message to the group. Each recipient in the group will then receive a group message. When they reply to the message, they will be replying to the entire group. You can even send photos and videos to the group. This technique can also work when sharing from within any app that can share via an iMessage. For instance, you can send a link from Safari to a group of contacts and everyone can comment on what they think about the link.
Your location notification
Sometimes you don’t want to bother with sending a message to your friends when you arrive at a particular destination. The Find My Friends app (Free, Universal) can be used to create a group notification that will announce when you leave or arrive at a particular location. From the “Me” tab in the Find My Friends app, tap on Notify. Here you can add multiple contacts that you want to notify when you arrive or leave any location. Choose “When I Leave…” or “When I Arrive…” to select the specific location you want to trigger the notification message.
This does require you to turn on the Find My iPhone feature of your iCloud account. You can even use this technique to notify anyone in your contact list where you are at right now. They do not have to have an iCloud account, they do not have to be using an iPhone, and they do not have to be one of your defined friends in the Find My Friends app. Only you do. Such friends will receive en email notification instead.
iCloud Shared Photo Streams
While you can send a single photo or video to multiple recipients using iMessage or Mail, sending multiple photos back and forth over time while you and your group are all at a special event may not be practical. Now with iOS 7 Shared Photo Streams, you can allow everyone in the group share their photos and videos with everyone else with the group. You no longer need to create multiple shared streams.
To set up a new Shared Photo Stream, go to the “Shared” tab of the Photos app. Tap on the plus to add a new stream. Name the stream something meaningful to the groups and add the contacts you want to share with. After the new stream is created, you can access the details of the stream by selecting “People” instead of “Photos”. Here you can add additional people, allow others to post, and even create a public URL where non-members of the shared stream can see the photos you take.
iOS email distribution lists
iOS has never allowed you to create true distribution lists for use in the Mail app. However, new with iOS 7, the Mail app can remember certain contact list patterns when you go to send an email message. As an example, if you continue to send emails to “Bob”, “Nancy” and “Jake”, you will soon see a single selectable option in the list of recipients for the combination of “Bob”, “Nancy” and “Jake”. This saves time from having to enter all three recipients name in, over and over again.
While there are other ways to trick the mail app and set up a single contact to serve as a distribution list, your best bet is to look for a third-party app to get the job done. One such app is called Simpler ($1.99 Universal) which has recently been updated for iOS 7. While originally designed to help you manage your contacts list, Simpler can also create group lists and send emails to these lists of individuals.
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I switched from Apple’s default Calendar app to Fantastical for iPhone over a year ago, and I haven’t found a viable third-party alternative until I started beta testing today’s release of Sunrise 2.0. Completely redesigned with iOS 7 in mind, Sunrise has added support for direct iCloud calendar integration on top of the existing Gmail […]
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Redesigning core phone apps is, well, difficult. Many companies flood the space to reinvent a feature native to a smartphone — promising a “better” interface and more efficient features, and a a lot of them have more or less the same handful of bright ideas. The result is many apps with the same aims trying to replace that one flawed app.
Readdle has been offering alternatives to iPhone’s calendar app for about a year now, but has made its name with its productivity suite — which includes Scanner Pro, Documents by Readdle, and PDF expert. Its latest iteration of scheduling software, named Calendars 5, takes the place of the company’s previous premium app, Calendars+ (Calendars by Readdle, the free version distributed earlier this year, remains available for download). While it enters a market clogged with the great design efforts of FantastiCal and Sunrise, among many others, Calendars 5 has enough new material to be a worthwhile purchase.
The most standout feature really isn’t a feature at all — it’s just iPad support. But Calendars 5 is unique in making room for the tablet, which is surprisingly lacking in modernism calendar apps. The iPad view of the app is a larger version of the mobile, which is a good thing as it highlights Readdle’s skeuomorphism-free, minimalistic interface. Calendars can be synced natively with the phone or with a Google calendar, and updated quickly to maintain consistent schedules. Both interfaces allow for daily, weekly, monthly and yearly views, as well as a view for tasks. It certainly is miles better than Apple’s current calendar offering, and won’t look out of place once iOS 7 rolls out.
Creating a calendar event is simple, allowing users to input their events in plain language or tweak manually with recurring events, invitees, notes and locations. In the company’s blog, the developers at Readdle claim that the app is focused on the “power user,” which rings true when the app maneuvers lengthy and complicated recurring events (“Poker Night with Joe every third Tuesday for the next six months”) without a lot of text miscommunication. It’s simple, broad and functional, which may be the right mix to stand out amid tough calendar-APP competition.
While it is currently available on iTunes for the introductory price of $4.99, that cost will shoot up to $6.99 — at the top of the high-end calendar range — after this week.
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Developer Readdle has officially released the latest version of its popular Calendars app, which appears to be replacing the paid Calendars+ app that it rolled out back in May. Calendars 5 for iPhone and iPad introduces a new interface that focuses on upcoming events and a new look and feel designed specifically for iOS 7. It also adds new features including additional view modes, full offline support, natural language input for quickly creating events (much like Fantastical), and a new powerful task manager that syncs with iOS reminders.
A full list of what’s new in Calendars 5 is below:
1. Natural language event processing.
It’s the most natural way to enter an event. Everybody can understand and use it. But you can create events in Day view by tapping and holding, some might find that faster and more natural. Just try it yourself since we support it as well.
2. Clean UI focused on YOUR events.
There are no colorful bars or buttons in the elements of Calendars+5. The only elements in color on the screen are your events or buttons that need your attention. iOS 7 design philosophy is in its essence.
3. All complexity is hidden.
When you create an event in iOS calendar you see a 12-fields-dialog that confuses and disorients you. In Calendars+5 you have a single field to start with. The rest will unfold as you need it.
4. No compromises, you have ‘Day, Week, Month and List’ views of your events.
Depending on the situation you might need to see a different perspective of your schedule. We designed the best possible representation of your Day, Week and Month for the small iPhone screen.
5. Integrated task manager – syncs with iOS reminders.
Tasks and events should live in the same application while you may want to see all your tasks in your calendar when needed. At the same time a task manager should be first-class product and support everything you might ever need to successfully control your undertakings. I think we’ve done just that. And yes, you can sync your iOS reminders with the task manager in Calendars
6. Great for power users.
I know that till now I’ve been advocating for a perfect calendar for an ordinary person. But I hate compromises and I wanted to provide a remarkable tool for power users too, especially since our CEO is exactly this kind of person. Appointments, locations, notes and calendars with 10 000 events are something that you can easily manage with Calendars+ 5.
Moreover, you can create and events like “Do something every second month of the year on weekdays of the 1st, 2nd and last week”. Calendars+ 5 is the only iOS application that allows you to create custom recurring events.
7. First-class iPad app.
Calendars+ 5 is the first smart calendar for the iPad, since all other great calendar applications are for the iPhone only. I don’t get it because the iPad’s large screen is great for viewing your Weekly or Monthly schedule and enables richer interaction with events.
8. Transparent information sync between iPhone and iPad.
Your tasks and events are synced seamlessly in the background between all your devices. It just works, period.
With less a month to go until Apple unveils its new iPhones and the release date of iOS 7, the iCloud beta site just received a redesign to bring it more in-line with iOS 7’s UI. Apple has replaced the old iCloud app icons for Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, and Find My iPhone [...]
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