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Fantastical 2 ups the ante for events in OS X

Glenn Fleishman | March 26, 2015
The overhaul of Fantastical brings it in parity with its iOS version and beyond.

As Apple's calendar app for iOS and Mac OS X moved across recent releases from inconsistent, inadequate, and irritating to more or less just fine, the market for replacements grew and matured. Fantastical for iOS, now in its second release, filled a gap there by not just presented a clean list and offering strong support for different calendar systems, but also its natural-language processing. Type in a semblance of an event, and Fantastical would parse it and place it for you without fuss.

Fantastical's makers, Flexibits, brought a kind of snippet of Fantastical to OS X in its first version: a drop-down day view closely reminiscent of the iOS version. With the release today of version 2, Fantastical on the Mac is now a full-fledged replacement for Apple's Calendar and a strong competitor to similar products. The previous version now appears as the Mini-Window, an optional system menu bar pop-down that gives a capsule view.

The guiding philosophy for the program is that it's a calendar app that focuses on upcoming events in a list view, keeping that view active no matter whether you're looking at a graphical layout of day, week, month, or year. I live in the week view, and the combination of the upcoming list and a glance at the current week tends to work well together.

Fantastical can pick up existing accounts and calendars set in the Accounts system preferences pain, or stored locally or via Exchange, as well as let you manually add other iCloud, Google, Yahoo, and Fruux accounts, or any CalDAV-compatible calendar link.

For me, its weak point is that it feels like a smartly designed events list with broader views attached, but for many users this may be its strength.

Speak freely
Flexibits has always stressed its natural-language aspect, and it works as well or better in OS X than in iOS. (I've used the iOS version for years.) You can typically type a narrative sentence like, "Meet Laci at 10:15 am at 123 Every Street, New York, NY for two hours on Tuesday and set an alarm an hour before," press return, and you're done. The date is set by default to the current one selection; the address added to the location field; the end point figured out; and the alarm turned on.

This lets you include the kitchen sink when you make an appointment instead of needing to tap buttons and flip levers later, though those options are available to modify later. You can also add entries in the drag-and-release model on the calendar layout, but even then Fantastical takes your mouse movements and fills in the parameters related to them and moves the text-entry focus to its fill-in field.


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