Make a date to replace Calendar
£39.99 Developer Flexibits, flexibits.com
Requires OS X 10.10, iCloud or other supported calendars
The original Fantastical was a novel Mac add-on for quickly accessing a calendar and upcoming events from the menu bar. Its natural language input made it a must-have, not least for anyone who spent a lot of time dealing with calendar events. Now it’s going for Calendar’s jugular with a major revamp that enables you to ditch Apple’s app entirely.
The menu bar component remains from previous versions and can now be detached and moved anywhere on your screen. But the big news is the full-fledged calendar window, complete with day, week, month and year views.
During testing, our calendar data was detected and imported in a few minutes (you can later add further iCloud, Google, Yahoo, Fruux and CalDAV information). The main window mostly echoes that of Apple’s Calendar, although there are differences in the details. For example, Fantastical’s event text is more readable, but the design as a whole feels less refined; its week view in particular deals poorly with calendars that have more than two items scheduled at the same time, the resulting in items being illegible.
Where Fantastical wins out is with the day ticker that’s permanently positioned on the left of the main window. This displays a mini calendar with coloured dots representing each day’s events; beneath this is a scrollable events list. The ticker and main view pane are linked – select an event on one and the other updates accordingly. The resulting interface is more complex than Apple’s, but richer and more useful; it’s a boon to always have a visible list of events at a glance, regardless of the chosen calendar view elsewhere. The app loves its animations though – if you have issues with speedy transitions, there’s no ‘reduce motion’ option.
When it comes to adding new events, Fantastical’s natural language input remains impressive and is well ahead of Calendar’s input smarts. For example, type ‘Breakfast next Friday at 9am for two hours’ and Fantastical builds the event in real time, correctly placing it in your schedule; Calendar gets confused and dumps a one-hour event a week early.
When it comes to adding new events, Fantastical’s natural language input is thoroughly impressive
Updates to calendars also prove reliable, although Fantastical lacks push updates – at most, it refreshes calendars every five minutes (unless you do so manually).
Given the clunkiness of Apple’s Reminders app, the integration of Reminders into Fantastical is a missed opportunity. They’re essentially spat out as one big list, which can be unhelpful. The problem can be mitigated somewhat by creating calendar sets, which display specific calendars and reminder lists activated via a keyboard shortcut or your location. These are great for anyone juggling multiple calendars, and preferable to continually clicking checkboxes to turn calendars on and off. Craig Grannell
The menu bar component is handy for rapidly accessing the day’s events, including location maps.
The day ticker in combination with traditional calendar views is a boon for efficiency.