Last week we reviewed the stellar iPad calendar app Fantastical 2. But this iPad version sprung from an already established and renowned iPhone app. So, this week I thought we could return to the original iPhone app and see what makes Fantastical 2 so great in the first place.
First off, why is Fantastical 2 needed on the iPhone? Simply put, the stock Calendar app that Apple provides leaves a lot to be desired. For me personally, one of the biggest exemptions is the inability to determine what calendar you’re looking at in the month view. All the event indication dots are gray regardless of the calendar they belong to. Fantastical 2, on the other hand, steps in to provide this feature correctly and many more.
By default, Fantastical 2 opens with a two-pane view.The DayTicker view is a column on the bottom showing the next few days. You’ll also see an abridged week view across the top of the screen. In portrait orientation, the week view row displays your items in a time bar format. Put your iPhone in landscape orientation to expand the week view and you’ll see your item names sorted by time of day. My favorite view, however, is enabled by swiping down the week view. This gives me the DayTicker on the lower portion of the screen and the month view on the upper half.
In month view, your items are identified by color coded dots relating to which calendar they belong to. You can change these colors in the app settings. You can also add, delete, rename, and choose to display calendars in the settings. All your changes will sync back to your stock iPhone calendar too. There are a number of other settings Fantastical 2 allows you to tweak. I really appreciate the option to toggle between a light and a dark theme as this grant the user a sense of personalization. Default alerts can also be set which will automatically be added to all events. You’ll also be able to specify a default calendar to associate new events with in case you don’t specify one manually. In order to avoid duplicate alerts coming from your stock Calendar app and Fantastical 2, I recommend turning on Fantastical 2 notifications and turning off Calendar notifications in Notification Center.
The real fun begins when adding an item to Fantastical 2. Why? Because the app uses a natural language input method. That means that instead of seeing a popup with input fields like “Event Name”, “Duration”, and “Location”, you’ll simply type a sentence like you would naturally. For example, type “meet with mark at ikea 2pm on april 7th”. Fantastical 2 is smart enough to then create a new event on April 7th called “Meet with Mark” at 2:00 PM and assign a location called “ikea”. Then you can even click on the word “ikea” and Fantistical 2 will open either Apple Maps or Google Maps and search for the nearest IKEA store. Pretty cool. You can even assign a natural language event to a particular calendar by typing four spaces or a backslash and then typing the first letter of the calendar you desire. One of the sweetest things about natural language input is that you can tap on the iOS keyboard microphone icon (to the left of the space bar) and speak your new item.
Besides calendar items, Fantastical 2 can manage your tasks. By allowing access to your iOS Reminders app, Fantastical will show you all your reminders. This is quickly becoming my preferred way to view see all my reminders in one place. Any time you add a reminder with Siri or manually, it will arrive in Fantastical 2. Of course you can add tasks and reminders right within the app by signifying “task” or “reminder” before the rest of your natural language sentence. Fantastical 2 also integrates with other apps like Drafts, TextExpander, and Launch Center Pro. That means that if you use these fantastic productivity apps, you can add an event in either of them and it will automatically add it to Fantastical 2 (some set up required).
Flexibits has updated the app to support the Apple Watch. Now you’ll be able to see all your reminders and events on your wrist without even pulling your iPhone out of your pocket. There is also a nice Glance view which displays an overview of your day (as shown in the picture below). What about creating a new event? The Apple Watch app has you covered. Just speak in natural language to add the event. For example, type “meet with mark at ikea 2pm on april 7th”. Fantastical 2 is smart enough to then create a new event on April 7th called “Meet with Mark” at 2:00 PM and assign a location called “ikea”. It’s fairly awesome!
I’m quickly integrating Fantastical 2 to my daily workflow. Both the iPhone and iPad versions work flawlessly, from the silky smooth simultaneous scrolling to the precision picked user interface details. If you’re frustrated with the stock iOS Calendar app and want to add some pizzazz to your schedule, check out Fantastical 2 today.
Fantastical 2 is just one of our favorite calendar apps for iPhone and iPad. We’ve collected all of our favorites here. And if you’d like to see more of our top app selections in different categories, just head on over to our Best Apps Series.
Here are a couple of our other picks of the best calendar apps for iPhone and iPad: