Here’s a quick look at two I’ve tried; to replace Calendar on my Mac, or to add functionality because Calendar usage leaves me tired, disappointed, and minus a few dollars. The real fact of the matter is, Apple’s Calendar– Mac, iPhone, iPad– is pretty good, but not perfect.
What Day Is It?
The benefits to Calendar are obvious. It’s free and included with each Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Calendar also syncs between devices by using iCloud, also free (depending on the amount of data used).
Why would you want a replacement or an add-on utility for Calendar? Calendar is a behemoth; a beast, and difficult to navigate and use on iPhone or iPad.
So, I tried Fantastical for iPhone and iPad and I like it. As far as it goes. The calendar layout displays more and is easier to navigate than Apple’s iOS Calendar, so you can get an update on events much faster.
What about Fantastical for Mac? Having access to Calendar events from the Mac’s Menubar is a huge plus, and the convenience is probably worth the substantial entry price to anyone who is already married to Calendar.
Click in the Menubar and view the Calendar and Reminders.
Another click gets you the option to add an entry to calendar, complete with alarms, calendar selection, invitees, and more.
There’s much to love here, but Fantastical is not a free add-on, or a complete substitute for Calendar. Apple should build in a Menubar control option.
At the other end of the scale, and priced accordingly, is BusyCal which goes beyond Calendar with a few integrated options that can make it the only calendar you’ll use on your Mac.
See? BusyCal looks like Calendar but if you look closely you’ll see features not found in Apple’s app, including weather.
BusyCal also syncs with Calendar on iPhone and iPad by using iCloud or Google Calendar, but there’s not an iPhone or iPad version, as there is with Fantastical. However, BusyCal is far more customizable than Calendar or Fantastical, integrates todo items, and has more calendar views.
That said, BusyCal’s options to arrange calendars into groups, then display or hide with a click, is priceless. Events in BusyCal sync with those in the Calendar on iOS. Todo items in BusyCal will sync with iOS Reminders.
Heavy duty calendar users usually love BusyCal because it does more. You know. Different strokes for different folks, and that’s at the heart of my problem with add-on or replacement apps for those Apple provides free with Mac or iOS devices.
There’s the price of the apps themselves, which is substantial. Then there’s the cost of learning, adjusting, and gaining useful experience for the replacement or add-on apps, and that’s what needs to be measured. Setting up BusyCal takes time and effort, while Fantastical for iPhone and iPad merely needs to be installed to become more useful than Calendar.