Tag Archives: Iphone Apps

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


  • 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


  • 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.

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