On Tuesday, Google launched a dedicated calendar app for the iPhone — one of the final missing pieces of Google's apps suite for iOS. And Google Calendar for iPhone doesn't disappoint: It's a gorgeous calendar app that mines your Gmail account to automatically add events. It joins a lengthy list of well-designed, highly functional Google apps on iOS that perform as well or better than Apple's default options.
Like many of Google's products, it's designed primarily for those who live in Google's app ecosystem, though it will also sync with any of the other calendars on your iPhone, including Apple's stock Calendar app. Like Google's other recent app updates and launches, it ushers in Google's signature Material Design and an interesting rethink on how a mobile calendar should perform.
Going beyond the traditional calendar view
The best thing Google Calendar does is automatically detect events and appointments from your Gmail account and create listings for them in your calendar, adding a splash of color and graphics for effect. (You can turn this feature off in the app's settings if you're not a fan.) For example, if you receive a hotel reservation confirmation email, you'll see that reservation info show up in Google Calendar, complete with an image of the venue. Dentist appointments, lunch outings, and other events all get their own animations. Of course, you can manually add in appointments or edit the events that Google Calendar pulled in from Gmail.
It works with all of the calendar accounts you use on your iPhone, so you don't need to jump between calendar apps. You do, however, need a Google account to sign in and use the app.
The default look is a schedule view, which intersperses the screen with your upcoming events in chronological order. If you don't like that view, you have a couple of other choices: A one-day overview, or a three-day option that gives you a glance at the next couple of days. The only missing piece is a seven-day view, which was recently added to the Android version.
The assists feature tries to speed up the sometimes laborious task of adding details to a calendar entry. For example, it will auto-suggest the name of your event and tap into Google's massive database to locate the specific address of where you're headed. When you tap on the address in any event, it will toss you over to the Google Maps app (if you have it installed).
Unfortunately, you can't invite others to an automatically generated event, though you can do so with events you've created yourself. Also, Google Calendar doesn't have a Notification Center widget — the ability to swipe down and get a quick glance at what's coming up would be a convenient feature. It's also iPhone-only for now, which means you'll need to pick another option for your iPad (or install it anyways and live with a blown-up version until Google releases an iPad-compatible version).
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