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The Best Calendar App for iPhone

The Best Calendar App for iPhone

You have tons of options for calendars on iPhone, many that are free, but when it comes to the best, we recommend Fantastical 2, even if you have to shell out $5 to use it.

Fantastical 2

Platform: iPhone (and iPad)
Price: $4.99
Download Page

Features

  • Compatible with Google Calendar, iCloud, and Exchange
  • Quickly add new events with natural language (“Lunch with Alan tomorrow”)
  • Notification Center support
  • Map view for event locations
  • Week view in landscape mode
  • Integration with Facebook events
  • Widget support
  • Quick Actions on iPhone 6s
  • Light and dark themes
  • Reminders integration with notifications

Where It Excels

A lot of things are great about Fantastical 2, but what separates it from the pack the most comes down to its design. Fantastical 2 is incredibly easy to use, fast, and it’s powerful enough for most people. As a basic calendar, you can view your events on a calendar and they’re visualized in a readable and easy to understand way. You can add new events without a lot of taps and the natural language entry means you can type out an event just like you’d say it out loud.

Fantastical also offers up just enough options for viewing your calendar to make it useful for a variety of people. You can check out a list view in portrait mode that offers both a week ticker and a month calendar at the top, or flip your phone to landscape view to see a more detailed look at your week. These three views make it pretty easy to glance at your calendar to get a gist of your schedule at any given moment.

Fantastical 2 is updated consistently with new features, but more importantly it’s always kept up to date for new versions of iOS and any new features that might come along with a new iPhone (like Quick Actions on the iPhone 6s) or in the operating system itself (like widget support). Finally, Fantastical 2 is just as reliable as Apple’s built-in options, which, when it boils down to it, is one of the most important aspects of a calendar. Syncing always works, crashes are very rare, and notifications always happen when they’re supposed to.

Where It Falls Short

The most obvious downside of Fantastical is the $5 price tag. While paying for the app means you’ll get continued support and you don’t have to worry as much about the app getting acquired by another company (which are oddly common in calendar apps), not everyone wants to shell out cash for a calendar app. We do cover some free options below though.

Beyond that, Fantastical is missing some of the social or third-party integrations that you’ll find in other calendar apps. While it does support Facebook events, that’s pretty much it. You won’t find detailed views of your weather, Evernote reminders, or anything else here. On one end, that means Fantastical is a solid calendar app on its own, but on another, it means you can’t auto populate your calendar using other services.

The Competition

You have a lot of good competition in the calendar space on the iPhone, so if you don’t feel like shelling out the $5 for Fantastical, don’t worry.

Let’s start with Sunrise Calendar (Free). Sunrise Calendar was our previous pick for the best calendar on iPhone. It’s free, supports the big three calendar services, integrates weather forecasts, and links up with tons of other services. The problem is the app’s now dead after Microsoft acquired the team who made it. A lot of the Sunrise features are now being integrated into Microsoft’s Outlook app, but the iOS app for Sunrise will never get updated again.

Any.Do Cal (Free) is another decent free option, but it hasn’t seen an update in a year. Cal is a little more fun and playful then Fantastical, integrating a lot of images into its design as well as working well with the Any.do to-do list app. As a calendar, it does everything it needs to, but doesn’t go too far out of its way to do anything new.

Finally, as far as free options go, it’s worth mentioning Google Calendar (Free). If you’re deep into Google’s ecosystem, the Google Calendar app is great. It shows you events from Gmail, to-dos, and even gives you little added features like flight information. The problem, of course, is that most of the usefulness relies on other Google services, so if you’re not using any of them, Google Calendar is far less useful.

In the paid space, the biggest competitor to Fantastical is Calendars 5 ($6.99). Calendars 5 is a very capable app that includes natural language input, a task manager, and a variety of view options to glance at your calendar. The week view in Calendars 5 is good, better than Fantastical’s in some ways, but the rest of the interface is a bit lacking. Calendars 5 is also a universal app, so if you use your iPad a lot, it’s great to just purchase one app instead of two.

Week Calendar ($1.99) is another app that once sat in our App Directory. It’s packed with a ton of features, including multiple views, your choice of navigation app integration, templates, widgets, and more. It’s also quite possibly the ugliest option available, but that hasn’t prevented it from being one of the most popular calendar apps out there.


Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.

The Best Calendar App for iPhone

The Best Calendar App for iPhone

Going by the number of calendar alternatives in the iTunes App Store, nobody seems satisfied with Apple’s offering. Even with so many good choices, we feel Sunrise trumps them all thanks to its intuitive interface, great features, and support for so many calendar services.

Sunrise Calendar

Platform: iPhone
Price: Free
Download Page

Features

  • Compatible with Google Calendar, iCloud, and Exchange.
  • Hybrid app works with your iPhone and iPad.
  • Syncs in real-time and in the background.
  • Quickly add an event with real language (e.g. "Lunch tomorrow at 1pm!").
  • Add reminders the same way.
  • Include Facebook events and birthdays.
  • Weather forecasts based on your location included in your daily agenda.
  • Use Google Maps for directions.
  • Connect multiple Google Calendars.
  • No ads—completely free.

Where It Excels

Sunrise is beautiful and easy to use. By default, you get a straightforward agenda view that shows you exactly what’s coming up over the next day or so on all your calendars, plus the local weather. You can access the day you want to view, too, and open up an entire month to quickly find the date you’re looking for. If or when you prefer, you can also switch over to a traditional calendar view and see everything scheduled out at specific times.

Aside from having a great and intuitive feature set, Sunrise works with just about everything. You have support for Google Calendar, iCloud, and Exchange—pretty much everything you’d need.

Where It Falls Short

Sunrise doesn’t necessarily fall short in any department, but there are some calendar apps that offer additional features that Sunrise just doesn’t have. If a simple, everyday calendar isn’t your thing you might find this one doesn’t meet all of your criteria. Check out the competition section below for more options.

The Competition

Canary (Free) is really the main competitor. While not quite so intuitive, it provides a fantastic view of your day and how much free time you have. You can then switch into regular calendar mode to add and view other events. It displays Facebook events and birthdays and makes scheduling a breeze. If it supported more than Google Calendar and was a bit easier to navigate, it would definitely be our top choice. (It’s the top choice of Nick Denton, who owns Lifehacker and all of Gawker. If you have tons of meetings and events to deal with, you’ll probably appreciate it just the same.)

Cal by Any.Do (Free) feels pretty similar to Sunrise, except Sunrise supports more services. Cal, however, will important a lot of different kinds of data and keep it in sync with Any.Do’s services. Speaking of which, it handles reminders by integrating into the Any.Do app, so that’s a big plus if you already use it.

Fantastical 2 ($5) is a great calendar app that’s easy to use. It was our top pick prior Sunrise. That said, it’s not really better any any way and it costs $5 while Sunrise is free. You won’t go wrong using it, but you’ll be spending $5 for pretty much no reason.

Week Cal ($2), our (former) former favorite calendar app, packs in a lot. Like most of the competition, it offers multiple views for your events and tasks. Where it truly excels, however, is in how easy it is to use such a vast number of features and still see all the information you need directly from any view. You can still scan the events of your day quickly even in year view, simply by tapping a date. Moving events around works just like moving apps on your home screen—you tap and hold, then drag it to where you want. Everything is very intuitive, it feels like you’re using iCal or Google Calendar but in a way that’s suited for your iPhone. Basically, it has the elegance of a minimal calendar app while still retaining a very respectable set of features.

Calvetica, or Fast Calendar and Tasks ($3) and Agenda Calendar ($1) are both great options if your main draw is a minimalist aesthetic. That’s not to say they aren’t great—they both have simple, intuitive interfaces that allow you to quickly navigate around all your events. That said, they’re not designed to be the feature-rich behemoths mentioned above. If you don’t need much more than the built-in calendar app provides but would prefer a better interface with additional views and some extra features, both of these apps are completely serviceable and nice to look at.

Finally, it’s just worth mentioning the UNIQLO Calendar (Free) purely for its uniqueness. It costs nothing, syncs with Google Calendar, is very attractive, and plays tilt-shift videos while you navigate. It may not be the most practical option, but it is free and a lot of fun.


Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.


You can follow Adam Dachis, the author of this post, on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Twitter’s the best way to contact him, too.

How to Make Time for Online Dating When You’re Crazy Busy

How to Make Time for Online Dating When You're Crazy Busy

Last fall, I took the plunge into online dating at a rather crazy time in my life. Not only did I have the normal responsibilities of being a full-time entrepreneur, but also I was in the midst of final editing and proofing of my first book.

It would have been easy to hide behind the “I’m too busy to date because I’m focusing on my career” line, but that would have been a lie. I had recently broken up with my boyfriend and finding a new relationship was a priority to me. This meant to authentically live out my time investment philosophies and be true to myself, I needed to make time for it. I also needed to be as effective as possible, meaning I was investing my limited time and energy in the key actions that could lead to quality, in-person dates.

I’m very grateful to be dating a wonderful man offline now so I thought it was the right time to reveal my best strategies on how not to waste time with online dating:

Make Sure You Have Time to Devote to the Process

In my experience, online dating takes as much or more time than being in a relationship because you’re not focusing on just one person but have to communicate with many of them. Realize that if you’re not willing to set aside any time to communicate and/or meet people, it may not be a good use of your time to be on at all.

Set Up a Separate Email Account and/or Filter to a Folder

This keeps all of the messages in one place and lowers the chance of distraction throughout the day. That way you can efficiently go through all new messages at certain times, such as right after work. This also can allow you to not have any of them show up as alerts on your phone, which is rather awkward if you’re on a date with someone else at the time.

Ignore the Stats, Views, Etc.

Actions speak louder than views so if someone didn’t communicate with you, they probably didn’t want to after looking at your profile. I realized it was a waste of time (and caused unnecessary heartache) to look at who viewed my profile or any other supposed signs of interest. Focusing on responding to the actual messages I received lead to the best results.

Decide What You Want in Advance

You will need to be making a lot of decisions on a daily basis about whether you want to communicate with someone. If you already have a pretty clear sense of what you want/don’t want, you can more quickly decide when to reply or delete. You don’t owe anyone a response, and in my opinion quality beats quantity.

Triage Your Responses

I tended to get a lot of messages so I took a triage approach to speed up my decision making process. There were some people I responded to right away, others I put in a “Later” folder, and others I deleted immediately. I never actually needed to go back through the “Later” folder, but that was an easier way for me to sort people out instead of completely eliminating the people I wasn’t sure were a good fit but had some nice qualities.

Save Frequently Typed Answers

Some common questions are going to come up again and again such as “What do you like to do for fun?” Instead of retyping your answers every time, it’s much more efficient to save answers to frequently asked questions that you can reuse later. You can simply copy and paste those in a Word document or text file. Or you can use a text expander to allow you to quickly and easily insert your answers.

Avoid Lots of Extraneous Communication Before Meeting

This is my personal preference (some people take the opposite view). But before I’ve been on a date with someone, I don’t want to spend time talking to him for hours or sending lots of texts. You could realize on your first date that you’re not interested at all and then you’ve spent all that time and bonded with someone that you don’t want to ever see again.

Fire Quickly, Hire Slowly

In general, I’m a very warm, friendly, and accepting person. But when I was juggling up to six different dates with six different men in a week, I learned that I had to be decisive. If I realized after the first date someone wasn’t a good fit, I said so and moved on. A text to the effect of “You’re a great person but we’re not a good match” works well.

Bonus Tip Based on a Real-Life Scenario: If someone sends you three e-mails in one day, before you’ve even had the chance to respond to the first one, and in the last e-mail, says, “Here’s my number, you can text me if you want” Do NOT give that person your number unless you’re really bored and like to be constantly interrupted. Set good limits from the get-go and you can avoid much annoyance and drama.

Good luck! Share your best time-saving strategies for online dating in the comments below.


Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a time coach, the founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training and the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress. Find out more at www.ScheduleMakeover.com.

Want to see your work on Lifehacker? Email Tessa.

Five Best Desktop Search Applications

Five Best Desktop Search Applications Whether you have the files on your computer neatly organized or they’re all over the place, a great desktop search utility makes getting right to the file you need when you need it a super-simple proposal. All of the major operating systems have some built-in search, but there’s usually a better option out there that’s faster, has more accurate results, or has more great features. This week we’re looking at five of the best, based on your nominations.

Earlier this week we asked you which desktop search apps were the best. You responded with tons of great suggestions, but we only have room for the top five:

Five Best Desktop Search Applications

Alfred (OS X)

Alfred is a combination app launcher and desktop/web search utility for OS X. Once installed, Alt+Space brings up a search bar that you can use to lauch any application on your system, search the web, and of course, search your system for files, folders, images, and more. You can add and remove folders from Alfred’s search scope, and use its built-in engine to search for documents, or you can turn on Alfred’s search “Extras” to make it index and present file and folder results as you type. It’s a little slower (especially when you can press space again after bringing up Alfred’s search bar to look for files) but it gives you everything up front. The beauty of Alfred is that it’s an app launcher and desktop search tool in one, but it’s also much more. Alfred sports an iTunes mini-player, built-in calculator, support for customizable hotkeys, and has a wealth of available extensions to add even more features. It’s free, although the Alfred Powerpack will set you back £15 (approx $23 USD) and toss in some extra useful features.


Five Best Desktop Search Applications

Everything (Windows)

Everything originally came out back in 2008 (I should know, I covered its launch for another publication!) and quickly rose to become one of Windows’ most popular search utilities. It’s not the only one by any means, but Everything was fast—fast like no other desktop search tool at the time really was. It builds its search index while you use it, making it easy to start searching as soon as you download it and get even more accurate results the longer you leave the app running. Everything stopped development in 2009, and the last official version is still from then, but Void, the developer, reappeared last month on the forums with a new beta version designed for current versions of Windows. So far, it works like a charm, and retains the speedy search capabilities that made Everything great to begin with. It still needs admin access for best performance, and it still only works on NTFS volumes (and some features have been removed for privacy or performance reasons), but Everything is definitely back. Worst case though, you can still grab the old version. Everything is freeware, although the developer notes he may release some features as add-ons in the future.


Five Best Desktop Search Applications

Quicksilver (OS X)

Quicksilver has a long and storied history. For a while, it was the best app launcher and customization tool available for the Mac. We loved it then, and when its future looked a little grim, we mourned. Still, it went open source, and when independent developers picked it up, we were happy. Since then it’s been updated frequently, and is still our favorite app launcher for Mac. Even though it’s an app launcher, it’s also a great file and document search tool, and allows you to browse and search your Mac’s file system quickly and with a few keystrokes. Right out of the box, Quicksilver lets you search files, folders, documents of all types, contacts, bookmarks, and more. It can chain commands, so it can search for a file, then give you options of how to open it, or find a file and then move it to a file location for you. It also has a wealth of independently created plugins that can extend its search and scripting features, which let you really play with what the app can do under the hood. The latest versions of Quicksilver are really sharp, and it’s completely and totally free (although the team behind it definitely appreciate donations to keep the project running.)


Five Best Desktop Search Applications

Launchy (Windows/OS X/Linux)

Launchy is our favorite application launcher for Windows, and as we pointed out when we explained why you should be using an app launcher, it can do much more than just find and launch the apps you want to use when you want to use them. Launchy is super-fast, cross-platform, and makes finding files, launching applications, and chaining activities (finding files and then opening them in a specific application, or searching for a term and then opening it in Google in your favorite browser) really simple. It needs a little time to index before it’s really effective, but you won’t notice it working in the background. Launchy stays lean and trim by cutting out the bloat and other added features that other app launches include, but for the purposes of desktop search, it works like a charm and is super-simple to use. It’s completely free, and works just as well on OS X and Linux as it does in Windows.


Five Best Desktop Search Applications

Windows Search (Windows)

Windows Search is pretty terrible on its own, and it’s not really as useful as some of the other contenders in the roundup. It leaves out tons of search locations and file types from its index and indexing is slow and often incomplete. Thankfully, we’ve shown you how to make Windows Search much more powerful, and many of you noted that once you amp it up a little bit and tweak it so it works better, it’s just as good as having a third-party utility on your system. Some of you noted that you’d rather just use what you have than install something new, or that Windows Search is “okay,” and combined with just being organized, you didn’t need a special search tool. Whichever camp you’re in, enough of you noted Windows’ built-in search that it’s a contender. Still, if you are going to stick with Windows Search, at least tweak it so it’s more useful.


Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to a vote to determine the all-out winner.

Honorable mentions this week go out to Google Desktop Search, which was discontinued in 2011, but many of you still use and love even though Google doesn’t officially make it available for download, and isn’t offering security fixes, patches, or updates for it. There are various installers floating about the web if you’re still interested in trying it (or still have it installed), and it really is a great desktop search tool, but getting it to work with current OSes can be challenging. Still, if you have it and it works for you, enjoy it!

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it’s not because we hate it—it’s because it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com!