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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.

The supported vocabulary is quite large, though it's easy to stump it. For instance, entering, "eat bitter green every night at 8 pm" works just fine, but "eat bitter greens at 8 pm nightly forever" does not. Flexibits says it will be responsive to feedback and expand the vocabulary based on user requests, and even did so during the beta-testing phase.

Reminders have more limited parameters, and you can preface your to-do sentence with "reminder" or "remind me to" or the like. If in the process of creating a reminder or event, you can click a switch to flip to the other kind of entry. That's the one click you might find useful during item creation.

As with most mature software, Fantastical rewards you by experimenting or becoming a more sophisticated user. While it appears at first glance that you have to choose a calendar from the popup entry rather than type it in, Flexibits hit the shortcut of using a slash followed by the unique part of a calendar name--like "/Office public" -- and the appropriate one appears in the calendar field for the entry in progress.

Or you might notice that days and times are entered in a literal format when you drag and drop, and thus enter the current date in full, like 3/25/15, to create an all-day event.

Work the mouse and keyboard
An app that grew from an iOS sensibility definitely believes in minimizing the number of "touches" with a mouse as well. This generally works to its advantage. In the year view, for instance, often a somewhat wasted view in other calendar programs that provides too much information and too little functionality, Fantastical uses shading to indicate the intensity of a day from yellow (least) to red (most). Hovering over a day for a moment reveals a floating summary; clicking a day scrolls the list at left to that day's activities.

Clicking an event in the list sidebar or in the Mini-Calendar list or double-clicking an event in the weekly or monthly view brings up an editable pop-over with the same options found when you initially create an event. This also appears when selecting an event in the day view, although in a separate right-hand pane.

In its drive to keep its approach clutter-free, options besides the basics are hidden while creating or when editing an event or reminder. Tapping a down arrow reveals items, such as invitees, URL, and notes, as well as time zone and repeat in the default area if they haven't already been set for an event.

For frequent travelers, Fantastical supports fixed and floating time zones for events: the former used for events occurring at a specific time (an appointment or a flight) and the latter that should happen at a given time of day (such as taking a medication) regardless of zone. Enter a time zone in natural language or the word "float" or "floating" and Fantastical places it correctly.


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