fantastical

Fantastical 2.5 for Mac and New Video

Today Flexibits released Fantastical 2.5 for the Mac. There are several notable new features with the new version including Meetup.com integration and support for sending and receiving time proposals for meetings via Exchange, Google, and iCloud.

I run Fantastical on my 27" iMac in its own screen with 14 days displayed in week view. I think of it as my calendar control center. It's the only full-screen app I run on my 27" iMac and it's glorious. With version 2.5 they've added a bunch of great keyboard support to let you move and change events with just the keyboard. That is definitely my favorite feature in the new version. I demonstrate all of the new features in the video below. It's a free update if you already are a Fantastical for Mac user. 

Fantastical 2.4 for Mac Gets Travel Time and More

Today Fantastical for Mac released a significant update with several new features:

  • You can now view, create, and edit attachments on iCloud and Exchange
  • Travel Time! Receive notifications when you need to leave to reach an event on time
  • Fantastical will now combine identical events that are on multiple calendars
  • Undo and redo got a lot more powerful

There are quite a few more new features. Indeed so many updates that I made a few videos for the Flexibits team showing off the new features. Below is the “What’s New” video. I’ve been running this update since its early betas, and it’s solid. Head over to Flexibits to learn more.

iCloud Authentication Video

Apple has recently announced that starting June 15, any Mac app needing access to iCloud data is going to need an app-specific password. While this is a bit of a pain, it provides a significant increase in your security and I'm all for it. The gang at Fantastical asked me to make a video explaining exactly how to make an iCloud app-specific password. This video is for Fantastical, which is my calendaring weapon of choice, but you'll be going through the same steps with any third party app starting June 15.

Fantastical for iOS 2.8

Fantastical for iPad and iPhone updated today to version 2.8. The new update includes rich notifications and and haptic feedback on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Now in Fantastical on the iPhone 7, when you scroll dates or times, you feel a nice little click under your finger. I like the way developers are doing haptic feedback in their apps. It's subtle, but useful. I hope other developers follow suit.

The new version also adds a sticker pack with a calendar-themed stickers. They're animated and useful for doing things, like inviting a friend to lunch. Learn more here.

Fantastical Version 2.2 Ships

Today Flexibits released version 2.2 of Fantastical for the Mac. They could've easily named this update version 3.0. There are a lot of new features in this update including:

  • Microsoft Exchange support
  • Attendee availability support
  • Dual timezones – Your timezone on the left and your co-worker’s timezone on the right. It’s super-useful.
  • Background visual refresh
  • Multiple selections
  • Better location search

There is a bunch more. Below is a short video I made for the gang at Flexibits showing off the new features of Fantastical version 2.2.

Fantastical for iOS 2.5

This week the other penny dropped for Fantastical. On the heals of their Mac update comes Fantastical for iOS 2.5. There's a long list of updates and new features including things like 3D Touch on the new iPhones and multitasking. 

For me, the big story here is the Apple Watch app. It's always looked better than the native Calendar app but also been hampered by the fact it's not a native application. It is now. The native app is much faster, now includes a Fantastical complication, and retains that clean Fantastical design. I've switched all my calendar complications over to the new Fantastical.

Fantastical 2.1

I spent most of today with my head down on a calendar intensive project. That gave me a good opportunity to kick the tires on the newest version of Fantastical for Mac. Version 2.1 released yesterday and it’s the biggest update since they launched version 2. The new version supports OS X El Capitan, which will be landing on your Mac later this month. So far, my personal favorite new feature is the ability to cut, copy, and paste events and reminders. Quite often I have need to duplicate an event and being able to copy and paste an event with my keyboard is golden.

Navigation is also easier. You can scroll to a specific day or week using the trackpad and you can expand the scope in week and day view by pinching on the trackpad. Related, arrow keys can also now navigate the day, week, and month views.

There is a whole bunch more and you can read the release notes here. If you haven’t played much with Fantastical, I recommend watching my screencasts on the app. You’ll see why I use every day.

Fantastical 2.4 - Draft Events

Today Flexibits released Fantastical version 2.4 for iPhone and iPad. The big new feature is draft events. You can now save an event as a draft in the middle of event creation and then come back to it later to finish it off. I frequently have need to consult my calendar after I start creating a new event and this feature is really useful. I liked it so much, I made a screencast demonstrating how it works.

Fantastical on My Wrist

Today was meeting day. I drove all over southern California meeting with clients. As it turns out, today was also Fantastical for Apple Watch day. 

Flexibits just recently updated Fantastical (App Store)(Website) for iPhone including Apple Watch support and in my travels today I got to use the new Fantastical for Watch App under fire. I like it.

Better Glance

The Apple Calendar glance view feels odd on the Apple Watch. It displays your next event as a block calendar entry with a lot of pixels devoted to drawing the “card” around the text, making the text smaller and the view less attractive.

Fantastical removes the card paradigm and instead gives you a count-down to your next appointment in large text with the event name underneath in slightly smaller text. There is also a view across the top showing your events for the day graphically. Fantastical’s glance view seems more native on the Apple Watch than Apple’s Calendar app.

Apple Calendar on left. Fantastical on right.

Apple Calendar on left. Fantastical on right.

Better Appointment List

Moving in to the Fantastical App, it follows a lot of the same principles as Fantastical’s iPhone App’s with a list of all upcoming events scrollable with your finger or the digital crown. Fantastical does a bang-up job of displaying event lists on all platforms. The Apple Watch is no different.

The Apple Calendar app does something similar but instead of a list view, it draws your events on a long scrolling view that includes all the blank areas where there are no events. Using Apple Calendar, if you have a meeting in the morning and nothing else until the next day, you’ll have a whole ‘lotta scrollin’ to see what’s up the following day. 

In my mind there is no question between these two implementations. Fantastical’s is better by a long shot.

Update: @JeffCarlson points out Apple Calendar will do a list view following a force touch. I'd still argue that should be default behavior.

Apple Calendar on left. Fantastical on right.

Apple Calendar on left. Fantastical on right.

Reminders

I’m still scratching my head on how the Apple Watch shipped without an app to view reminders. We use the Apple Reminders app in our house for several shared lists. Looking at these on my list while I’m in the grocery store makes perfect sense. Now I can see (and check off) reminders on my Apple Watch with the Reminders support in Fantastical.

Force Touch For Event Creation

While in Fantastical you can create new events by tapping on the screen and dictating the event. You can even use the Fanstical syntax. For instance, saying “Write Blog Post about Fantastical at 6pm alarm 15 Slash MS” created an event at 6pm with an alarm 15 minutes earlier and put it in my MacSparky calendar. (If that last bit sounds like sorcery, watch these videos.) One issue with this is that the Apple Watch likes to turn itself off and sometimes does it right in the middle of event creation, which is a drag.

Overall, I prefer the Fantastical interface and design on the Apple Watch over the built-in Apple Calendar application. It does a better job of giving me the calendar and reminder information I need. 

The only down side is that Fantastical is not a native app on the Apple Watch. It has to connect with my iPhone to get its data and sometimes you’ve got to watch the spinning animation while it does so. Hopefully we get news of that changing next week at WWDC.

Fantastical 2 For Mac

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.

Calendar Sets

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.

For example:

“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. 

Reminder Support

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.

Overall

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.

Fantastical for iOS 2.1

Today Flexibits released Fantastical version 2.1 for the iPhone and iPad. There are some useful features in this update including:

  • Snooze support
  • The ability to search and add contacts or locations when creating a new event
  • New event invitation notifications and app icon badge option
  • Upcoming birthday notifications
  • Event preview when duplicating and moving items
  • Keyboard shortcuts when using an external keyboard

There are more but the above features really jumped out for me. The apps are also on sale. The iPhone app is half off at $5 and the iPad app is 33% off at $10.

Fantastical 2 for iPad

Today Flexibits Released Fantastical 2 for iPad. Fantastical has taken over as my home screen calendar app on the iPhone so I guess it is only proper for it to do so on the iPad as well. I’ve been playing with it all morning and there are some nice features including half-screen and full-screen week views, that Fantastical intuitive appointment parser, floating time zone support, and TextExpander support.

My favorite feature is the way it displays week view on the top half of the screen, a month view and a list view all at once without looking cluttered. A close second is the way it builds the event while you type in the details. This immediate feedback is so useful. The slash trick from the Mac and iPhone, where you can designate an event to a specified calendar with a / in the description, also works on the iPad version. For instance, putting “/p” at the end of an event description puts the calendar event on your personal calendar. There is even a slash on the included extended keyboard, that also has numbers and symbols appropriate for creating calendar entries while entering new events.

Michael and the gang have done some great work on the iPad. It’s available now on the iTunes App Store.