Recently, Flexibits released Fantastical 2, their IOS 7 implementation of Fantastical. Simply put, all I can say is it is simply Fantastic. This is not just a straight port of an award winning Calendaring application but is a complete refresh of the product. It is more than familiar enough so that we know is fully transferrable to Fantastical 2. Yet, it goes a number of steps to enhance the user experience with the product. Management of your time and calendar has never been so easy and yes, even fun.
Using Fantastical is simply a delight. From here-on-in when I refer to Fantastical I mean the complete Fantastical line. Fantastical 2 is designed for IOS 7 on the iPhone. However, there is a Mac version of Fantastical that is just as marvellous to use and stays in perfect sync with it’s iPhone counterpart.
Some people use Fantastical solely on its own as a full fledged calendaring system and it works very well for this. If we’re just talking Fantastical 2 for the iPhone this is exactly how it would be used. You would use it in place of your built in IOS 7 calendar which looks like a very poor second cousin when compared to Fantastical 2.
On the desktop, you might be inclined to use Fantastical with a full fledged desktop calendaring system such as Calendars, BusyCal or Outlook. I use Fantastical in conjunction with Busycal, my favourite desktop calendaring system and Outlook. In fact, the feed from Fantastical on the desktop is from Outlook as my whole calendaring and contact management system is based on Office 365 and thus Exchange. It works perfectly and picks up all the colour coding of Outlook on the desktop in Fantastical.
On the iPhone, I simply never look at another calendar other than Fantastical. I love the way it displays items as a list or when held horizontally in a traditional week view calendar. For a specific overview of Fantastical 2 and a video which shows it in action see this link from the Flexibits website.
Fantastical has always been known for its unique way of entering data which is based on real English language like phrases parsed into the calendar. Fantastical 2 has improved on this with even an even better parsing engine. It’s hard to imagine it could have gotten any better but it has. Being able to write in something like “Lunch with Joe on Tuesday from 1pm to 2pm /cal is faster than fiddling around with wheels and looking for the right day for the appointment. It’s also more fun too as you see your words magically transformed to fill in the calendar. The final piece that you see in my statement “/cal” mearly means to use my Office 365 calendar. Someone else might write “/w” for their work calendar. Regardless, it’s faster and more fun than a traditional calendar entry mechanism.
Fantastical 2 for IOS 7
Fantastical 2 has been designed to pick up on the visual presentation style of IOS 7. In essence, its colours are brighter yet the overall image display is more minimalistic than it used to be. Fantastical 2 now supports the display of a map if an address is included in the appointment. The system does include Reminders but I’m not a big fan of calendaring systems that include reminders but would rather work with a full featured Reminders system such as OmniFocus.
Fantastical has always been provided a great interface experience but now it is even richer and you can choose between a light vs dark theme. Navigation throughout Fantastical has always been excellent but I find it is now faster and even more fluid than it was before. As such, Fantastical 2 is a worthy upgrade that I would recommend any Fantastical user do.
At the Desktop
Since I’m talking about Fantastical 2 I might as well take this opportunity and talk about Fantastical at the desktop. This is a great application. It was very innovative at the time to run a complete calendar from a menubar applet but as it turns out it’s very effective. Many people soley rely on Fantastical at the desktop as their calendar.
I personally prefer to work with Fantastical using a desktop calendar also just to provide a different view and context to my calendar entries. My favourite desktop program is Busycal but I also like Outlook for the Mac due to its integration with the other Outlook modules. Regardless, either or both just give me a different picture of my events. Should I want to see my events in a month view or just certain types of events scattered through the month I can do this. I tend to make all my calendar entries in Fantastical and by and large just refer to Fantastical to see my upcoming appointments. However, I will pull out the big calendar every so often to get this different picture of my events.
If only it were on the iPad
The one place Fantastical is missing and the one place that sorely needs a program such as this is the iPad. I’m not such a big fan of any calendar for the iPad. The one I use and the one that comes closest to presenting a Calendar nicely is Calendars +. However, if Fantastical were available for the iPad I would buy it in a second. It already shines as an IOS 7 application for the iPhone. Granted, the screen real estate is very different but I suspect Flexibits could do an amazing job on a calendar for the iPad.
This would round out the line. There would be a Fantastical, sync’d between all devices using the same parsing engine to enter things. From a learning and use perspective this can only be a good thing.