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Fantastical 3 steps out of Apple’s shadow

Fantastical 3 steps out of Apple’s shadow

Fantastical 3 on iPad is a large improve. The left sidebar can come and go along with a swipe.

I’ve been utilizing Fantastical as my calendar app throughout all my units for years now. I’ve come to understand its considerate interface and its glorious natural-language parsing for occasion entry.

But with Fantastical 3, Flexibits has remodeled the product—it’s obtained a refined new look, sure, however what’s happening behind the scenes is the largest half of the story. With this launch, Fantastical is now stepping away from its attachment to Apple’s built-in calendar database, including the power to hook up with all kinds of calendar and activity companies. It’s additionally connecting with Flexibits’s personal new cloud service, which provides a slew of new options—and additional prospects down the road.

As you may anticipate on this period of App Store apps, there’s additionally a brand new fee mannequin for the app. Existing Fantastical 2 customers will be capable of improve and get entry to all of the model 2 options whereas utilizing model 3. But entry to the brand new options (throughout Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch) would require a $5/month or $40/yr subscription.

“Every month we’re making the app better,” Michael Simmons of Flexibits instructed me throughout our briefing, explaining that the corporate’s objective is to recurrently roll out new options to the apps and through the cloud service. Flexibits appears to know that asking for a subscription means delivering new stuff regularly, quite than dropping a standalone replace after which going into hibernation whereas the subscription charges roll in.

If you’re offended by the concept that a calendar app would need you to pay $40/yr for its companies, that’s advantageous—each gadget you utilize has a built-in calendar app that’s free to make use of and does the job advantageous. If you need extra, you may pay for extra—and in the event you’re a model 2 consumer who doesn’t just like the subscription mannequin, Flexibits isn’t going to pressure you to improve until you need these new options.

The Mac model, displaying off the time zone sidebar (far proper) and per-day climate on the prime.

Now, about these new options.

I’m a fan of the direct connection to calendar companies, as a result of rather a lot of the bizarre quirks I’ve skilled with my calendars find yourself being quirks of Apple’s calendar syncing system, together with random duplicate alerts from each Calendar and Fantastical. By default Fantastical 3 will maintain utilizing Apple’s calendars on iOS, however I added my Google calendar and turned off calendar syncing in iOS’s Passwords & Accounts setting, which means there’s only one set of calendar information on my units now, and it’s in Fantastical.

To use Fantastical 3, you’ve got to enroll in a free Flexibits account, whether or not or not you subscribe to the brand new options. By providing its personal cloud-syncing service, Flexibits says that it may maintain higher the apps and their preferences in sync throughout units. Calendar units, for instance, at the moment are out there on iOS, making it straightforward to toggle between totally different views of totally different calendars.

You can now simply change between calendar units on iOS.

The Flexibits cloud service additionally lets the corporate construct further options that transcend customary calendar protocols. For instance, Fantastical 3 launches with a cloud assembly scheduler that can generate emails and attempt to negotiate a typical time amongst invitees, after which ship out official invitations. You make the proposal from inside Fantastical, the cloud service does the remaining.

I’m having fun with a bunch of the additional information sources Flexibits has pumped into the app, as nicely. There’s now AccuWeather information on my weekly calendar, so I can see that in the present day’s wet however tomorrow it’s going to be sunny and hotter, all at a look. Clicking on an occasion with an related location will show a map and a climate forecast for that occasion—so that you’ll know if it’s going to snow if you’re on that enterprise journey to Denver.

Fantastical 3 additionally gives “interesting” third-party calendars through Schedjoules, so you may add issues like TV exhibits and sports activities groups to your calendar immediately from inside Fantastical (with out trying to find a distant calendar subscription URL).

Despite a lifelong aversion to activity administration, I’ve been utilizing Todoist for some time to trace some of my recurring duties. It’s going fairly nicely, however I’m extra passionate about it now that I can view my duties proper inside Fantastical 3 through its direct Todoist integration. (The app additionally helps Google Tasks and iCloud Reminders.)

I’m additionally taking benefit of Fantastical’s integration with Zoom (and Google Hangouts) for assembly scheduling. After linking my Zoom account to Fantastical, I’m in a position to generate Zoom assembly invitation URLs proper inside an occasion, quite than needing to open the Zoom app.

There’s improved time zone assist, too. You can arrange favourite time zones, after which click on any occasion to see what time it’s going to happen in these areas. You may also optionally show a second time zone in your calendar, on the aspect, if you end up endlessly including or subtracting hours to determine out what time it’s wherever your collaborators are in the present day.

I’m additionally thrilled to report that Fantastical’s natural-language parser has lastly been upgraded to intelligently parse repeating occasions, one thing that I might by no means get to work proper. If I kind “Picard every Wednesday at 11pm for 9 weeks” it does the proper factor and creates an occasion referred to as Picard on Wednesdays at 11pm, with the repeat ending in 9 weeks. Similarly, “Newsletter check third thursday of every month” will do precisely what you’d anticipate it to do.

While the Mac model of Fantastical has tended to be extra full featured than its iOS variants, with this launch the iOS apps are kind of at parity with the Mac model. The iPad model, which I by no means actually favored, is vastly improved, with a greater calendar view and an optionally available event-list sidebar that you would be able to drag in and out with the swipe. It mirrors the wonderful iPhone interface, which has been retained. Even the Apple Watch app can work in standalone mode, so if I’m out working with simply my mobile watch, I can get a reside view of my calendar.

I understand that a premium calendar app shouldn’t be for everybody—and free calendar apps and companies about. But I’ve all the time felt that Fantastical was price the additional value, and this new slew of options hasn’t modified my thoughts. This is a formidable replace.

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