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 presenting 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. Its 2.0 release in March 2015 was a full-fledged replacement for Apple’s Calendar and a strong competitor to similar products. The 1.0 turned into the Mini-Window, an optional system menu bar pop-down that gives a capsule view. A recent 2.1 update answers many of our concerns in the initial release, and moves it even farther ahead of Calendar.
The guiding philosophy for Fantastical 2.1 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.
The 2.1 release goes a step further than the initial rollout, interleaving reminders that have a date or date and time set in the graphical calendar view. While this can be disabled, it allows a more seamless flow of untimed reminders, appointments, and to-do items that would seem to better fit how many people approach deadlines and completion. The new version is also ready for El Capitan, although it continues to work with Yosemite.
Type in something that’s very nearly a descriptive sentence and Fantastical 2 parses out the event information.
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.
The 2.0 release felt more like a smartly designed events list with broader views attached; 2.1’s relatively minor changes make it more calendar like by providing better display options and interactions.
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 a.m. 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.
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