The time itself has been under attack this year with infamy. In some ways, 2020 has felt like an eternity, but somehow it’s shocking that we’re nearing the end of it. Our days have lost so much of the structure and rhythms we are used to, resulting in some people in days that are long and inactive, while others are overwhelmed in a different way when they juggle work to take care of their children, facilitate virtual school, and of course skip too many Zoom calls per day. Whatever situation you may have, your time concept has probably been thrown away this year.
Yet time marches on. And for many of us, the attacks on our normal life patterns have required building new patterns, new structures in our weeks and days, so that we can find a new sense of normal. Instead of leaving our calendars, we may need to be more judgmental with them than ever before. This is where Fantastical with its new iOS 1
The team at Flexibits has built a robust selection of fantastic widgets for all your calendars. Here is the complete list of options, with the data they contain and size options:
- Icon: Today’s date in a special style. Small.
- Date: Today’s date, too, but in a style similar to Apple’s calendar icon. Small.
- Date + calendar: Today’s date and weather on the left, full monthly calendar on the right. Medium.
- Calendar: One or two month calendar views, depending on widget size. Small, medium.
- NextToday’s Date and Weather, plus your next event or task accompanied by a countdown telling you how long it’s planned. Small, Medium.
- Event list: Like Up Next, this shows the date and weather, but it has a larger set of upcoming events or tasks. Small medium large.
- Event list + Calendar: Current date and weather, plus a full monthly calendar and a list of upcoming events or tasks. Medium, Large.
As you can see, there is an option here for everyone. In addition, all modules can be configured to display the exact data you want, in many cases by taking advantage of Fantastical 3’s calendar set function, which the app allows you to group sets of calendars and / or task management accounts. Widgets that contain events or tasks can be linked to the preferred calendar set, and you may want them to show or hide events, tasks, and weather. Widgets that contain a month view can activate a heat map to show for a moment which days in the calendar are busier or more free; this heat map is also bound to a specific calendar set. Finally, even the simple icon and date widgets can be configured to show or hide the month and current weather.
Fantasticals widgets represent by far the most comprehensive set of widget options I have seen for a calendar app. They are made even more useful by the fact that Fantastical not only supports calendars, but also tasks from Reminders and Todoist, direct logins to your Zoom account, and it even provides weather reports. Add all this to the calendar set function, and it is difficult for other calendar apps to match what Fantastical has made possible here. Although another app built such a comprehensive list of widgets as the one available in Fantastical, it could not offer as much versatility in the data these widgets contain.
Widgets are the tent pole feature in this release, but I’m glad to see Fantastic support for iPadOS 14’s new Scribble feature as well, and in a way that may be a new trend in iPad apps.
Scribble enables typing with Apple Pencil into any standard text box in an app. This is basic OS-level behavior that most apps get ‘for free’ without making any changes whatsoever. However, I’ve seen apps begin to implement Scribble in an additional way by enabling users to type not only in text fields, but even on other UI elements that do not support text input. For example, in the Task Manager, things scripts you can in a blank area of the app’s user interface to create a new task using the text you typed. In this way, Scribble is used as a kind of shortcut to quickly perform an action without first having to open the relevant text field.
Fantastical has taken a similar approach, but for event creation. When you use the app, no matter what is on the screen, you can start typing with Apple Pencil, and your typing will be turned into text and pre-filled in an event creation box. Thanks to Fantastical’s excellent natural language entry system, typing something like ‘Project Meeting 9am’ with your pencil will load an event creation form starting at 09:00 that will be detected by the app. To save even more time, you can type on a specific day in Fantastical’s various calendar views to have the new event created on that particular day.
I love how developers implement Scribble in unexpected ways, and offering a faster way to create arrangements when the pencil is in your hand feels like a perfect fit.
New date / time
Fantastical has rounded out this release and has introduced the new system date and time selector introduced by iOS and iPadOS 14. The new date selector removes the classic scroll wheel, while still retaining its basic tool for those who prefer it. As you can see in the image above, the date picker lets you select a date directly from a calendar view; In addition, the new time field can now be entered for quick entry, or if you prefer the old behavior, you can also ‘scroll’ the time to change it just like on the old wheel.
Fantasticals excellent detection of natural languages means that I rarely need to use the date selector in the app, but it’s nice to have the new and improved version anyway.
Fantastical was already the most powerful calendar app on Apple platforms, but now it continues the stretch of outstanding quality with all the latest additions. The app’s widgets offer all the functionality I could hope for, while I do so in a very versatile and customizable way – not to mention how great they look. Event creation crabs will surely make heavy Apple Pencil users happy. And the addition of the new iOS and iPadOS 14 date picker ensures that Fantastical can continue to provide the best experience for creating or modifying events.
Fantastical is available on the App Store as a free download, with an optional Premium subscription available. Its widgets are available even to free users, although calendar sets and automatic detection of conference calls in widgets are exclusive to subscribers.