Calendar apps have a tough job. Everyone needs one, but everyone is looking for something different out of them. I want a concise look at the day ahead, but you might want a spaced-out view of your week, and someone else might want a super-dense look at their entire month.
The best calendar apps do a good job presenting your schedule no matter how you want to view it. They make it easy to understand your day and to plan out the weeks and months ahead.
There's no shortage of gorgeous, inventive, and capable calendar apps for the iPhone. But by and large, it's the apps that nail the basics that come off the best. We're disappointed to say that no app can match our old, dearly departed favorite — Sunrise — but there is one app that's such a classic, it's easy to overlook how good it's become. That's Google Calendar.
Using an Android phone? Check out our picks for the best calendar apps for Android!
Seriously. If you haven’t opened up Google Calendar in a while, it’s time to check again. Because Google Calendar has become the most solid option out there. It’s not an app that’ll wow you with home runs, but it reliably knocks back single after single — and that’s what matters with something as fundamental as a calendar.
Google Calendar nails what matters: presenting your schedule and adding new events. It’s clear and easy to read no matter how you want to see it (including in often-cluttered week and month views), and many views will even let you jump directly into another way of looking at the calendar, without digging through menus.
Adding events couldn’t be much easier either. You can type events in natural language (“Brunch with Lori at Cent’Anni this Sunday at 8”), and Google will pull in the contacts, locations, dates, and times as you type. The app can also automatically pencil in time for you to clean and work out, if you’re the kind of person (aren’t we all?) who needs some encouragement.
Yes, those are simple features. But few other apps can claim to make your calendar quite as easy to modify and read. And ultimately, that’s what you’re here for.
Google does miss a few opportunities, though. The biggest is its lack of a widget for iOS 10 — something that a lot of other calendar apps already have. Nor does it include weather or time-to-leave alerts, or the ability to add useful calendars (like religious holidays or sports schedules) or connect with third-party apps. Most other apps can’t do these things either, but there’s some low-hanging fruit here that Google Calendar could pick up in Sunrise’s wake.
So you want something a little more serious? Fantastical might be the answer.
Fantastical has long been one of the best calendar apps for the iPhone, and that holds true today. It has a customizable widget and icon badge, a dense display of your upcoming events, and even better natural language support than Google Calendar when it comes to entering events.
The same reason some people love Fantastical is the same reason the app isn’t for everyone: it essentially only has one view in portrait mode — an agenda view — and that view can be really hard to read. If what you’re looking for is a no-frills list of what’s coming up on your schedule, Fantastical might just do it for you. But if you prefer weekly views or just a friendlier list, you’re going to have to pass.