For several years now, Fantastical for the Mac has been the best place to quickly create text-based calendar entries. The application existed in the menubar and had the uncanny ability to create new calendar entries with just a few words. One of the application's innovations is the way it physically animates the creation of the event while you type in the text. That way, you can see exactly how the computer interprets what you are writing. You don’t have to do this very long before you you learn to create new events as easily as typing a sentence.
I take this for granted now but thinking back to the days before Fantastical, creating a new calendar entry was a hairy mess of inspectors and mouse clicks. Fantastical changed all of that.
While this has dramatically increased the speed at which I create calendar events, I always thought of Fantastical more as a utility than a calendar application. It sat in my menubar and made new events really quickly. It was not, however, my calendar app. There was no way to see my week view, and it didn’t provide the types of tools that, frankly, I needed to run my calendar.
That is no longer the case.
Today Flexibits released Fantastical 2 for Mac. That menubar view still exists and you can still quickly add events but there is so much more, starting with a big-boy calendar.
The Full Calendar Application
This new version of Fantastical 2 includes a full screen calendar application. It has all of the expected bells and whistles including daily, weekly, month, and year of views.
Flexibits spent some time making these views look great. With features like heat-mapping the year calendar and a week view that can display 5, 7, or 14 days, you’ll find Fantastical 2 is up to the task of managing your calendar. Also, the design looks great on Yosemite with light and dark themes. One Apple Calendar feature that I’d like to see them add with a future update is travel time.
One of my favorite features with the new full calendar menu is the infinite scrolling list of events. This is largely the reason why Fantastical 2 took over on my iPhone as my main calendar application. I really appreciate the ability to scroll through future events and see what’s coming up and I think Flexibits has cracked this nut better than any of its competitors. They took a lot of those same design cues over to the Mac with this new version.
I’ve been using the application for a few months as Flexibits wrapped up the beta process (and I produced the attached videos) and Fantastical 2 has already taken over as the primary calendar app on my Mac.
One of the most innovative new features with this application is the addition of calendar sets. I use a lot of calendars. I have calendars for each of the members of my family, my legal work, my geek work, and even more that you couldn't possibly be interested in hearing about. I frequently find myself going in and tweaking which calendars I’m going to see at any one time. For instance, I don’t normally need to see the calendars for my wife and kids and I find it tedious going into the calendar settings to turn them off and on.
Fantastical 2 for the Mac solves this with Calendar Sets. Using this feature you can designate groups of calendars as a “set”. Spend a little time and you can create multiple sets of calendars and then you can easily toggle between them in the application with the mouse or keyboard combination. As an example I have a family set, a work set, and a geek set. Not only can you toggle between these manually, Fantastical 2 can also pay attention to the location where your Mac located and toggle them automatically. For example, you could have it display your work set of calendars when you arrive at the office and your home set of calendars when you arrive home. Once you figure it out, it feels like magic.
Text Parser Improvements
The Fantastical 2 text parser also got some additional fairy dust with this new version. You can now set an alarm with the syntax “alarm x” where xdesignates the number of minutes.
“Call Katie about MPU themed vuvuzela horns tomorroaw at 10am PST alarm 30”
The new version also got better at repeating events, letting you type something like “family game night on the last Saturday of every month at 7 PM” and Fantastical 2 will obligingly create a repeated event on the last Saturday of every month.
One problem I always had with the prior version of Fantastical 2 was the way it displayed reminders. They used to go in line with appointments, which I found too noisy for my taste. As a result, I used to always turn reminder support off. This new version solves that problem. Now Fantastical 2 keeps a separate list for reminders except for those reminders that have dates attached to them. Only those with dates attached will appear in line with your appointments, which makes sense. The reminders in the full screen calendar application also display separately.
There’s a lot more to explore with this new version. There’s a today widget, share extension, and action extension. Time zone support got even better, allowing you to search out a time zone based on city. The application works with iCloud, Google, Yahoo, and any other calendar you’ve added to your Mac’s built-in calendar (like Exchange). You can also attach custom CalDAV accounts to Fantastical 2.
This new version of Fantastical 2 is not simply an update but a brand-new application. The addition of the full screen calendar view adds so much more power to the application. Put simply, Fantastical is no longer just a utility. Now it’s a calendar application.
I made a series of videos for Flexibits all about the new application and I’ve sprinkled a few in this review but there are 12 in total that you can watch right here. The new version is $39.99 and available now in both in the Mac App Store and directly from Flexibits.