If you’ve been a Mac user for the past few years, chances are you’re familiar with Fantastical. The basic menubar calendar app has been a favorite for many because it makes it so easy to check your upcoming agenda and quickly add new events with normal language. It’s intelligent natural language parsing even made it to the iPhone and iPad too, so you can quickly type “lunch with Paul 12PM tomorrow at Dorsia’s” in Fantastical’s apps and they will know exactly what you mean.
But while Fantastical has always been a great little utility app, in order to do more advanced calendaring, you need a full desktop app, such as the OS X’s built-in calendar or Google Calendar in a browser. Today Flexibits, the maker of Fantastical, is directly addressing that with the release of Fantastical 2, a completely new app that combines the best of the original Fantastical menubar app with a full desktop experience.
The biggest difference with Fantastical 2 over its predecessor is well, it's a full app now. It still sits in the menubar for quick access and event creation, but now you can see full days, weeks, months, and years in a separate window. Fantastical 2 supports the calendar accounts already set up on your Mac, but it now has a native CalDAV engine that supports most any calendar service, including iCloud, Google, and Yahoo.
The desktop window uses a smart two-panel design to display a running agenda on the left and the full calendar on the right. It also integrates with Apple's iCloud Reminder service, so you can add tasks and see what's coming up in your calendar right from within Fantastical. The natural language parsing feature, which has been updated to support recurring events, can also be used to set alarms and reminders.
Calendar sets is one of Fantastical 2's best features
A big, and perhaps my favorite, new feature in Fantastical 2 is calendar sets, which let you quickly switch between a batch of calendars and reminders lists depending on what you need to do. A work set might have all of the calendars you need to see while working, while a family set will only show personal calendars. Since so many people share calendars with coworkers and family members, it's very convenient to be able to switch between all of the visible calendars with just a couple of clicks.
Even better, Fantastical 2 uses location services to show relevant calendar sets depending on where you are. I was able to have the app automatically select my work calendar set when I arrived at the office and opened my laptop, while at home my personal and family calendars come to the front. Flexibits CEO Michael Simmons says the company would like to bring this feature to its iOS apps in the future, and I hope they do.
At a price of $49.99 in the Mac App Store or from Flexibits' website (or $39.99 if you grab it during the limited time launch sale), Fantastical 2 is for serious users that are looking for a more powerful calendar app than what comes with their Macs out of the box. But it's also simple enough to use that more casual users could also justify its cost. After using Fantastical 2 for the past couple of weeks, I can't imagine going back to the basic menubar app or Apple's own Calendar. Now if only it could get someone to attend all of my appointments for me, I'd be all set.