Fantastical ($1.99) by Flexibits Inc. is simply the calendar for your iPhone. I've gone through my fair share of calendar apps before on the iPhone, but I have to say: Fantastical blows them out of the water, especially Apple's own Calendar.app. Fantastical is quite literally, fantastic.
If you have ever used the Mac version of Fantastical, then you will know that this app is one of the best calendars for the platform. And of course, it's no different with the iPhone. Even though I had chosen Agenda as the winner in my Showdown back in July, it looks like I've finally found a change in my home screen after weeks of keeping it the same. Fantastical is just that good.
Like other calendar apps, Fantastical will fetch data from whatever you have set up for your Calendar.app through Settings.app. There are no additional steps to set anything up, unless you haven't been using your Calendar already.
Once the app is launched, you are presented with a gorgeous interface that is reminiscent of what is found in the Mac app. You have the textured red header bar at the top, which displays the month and year, because we always need to be reminded of the time (it is wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff, after all).
Underneath the header bar, Fantastical will display five days at a time, and you’re able to see the day of the week as well as the date. Any events on particular days will be indicated with a color-coded event bar. The day in the center will be under a virtual “magnifier,” as it will be bolded to stand out from the other four days. A list of previous and upcoming events will be available to view underneath the days of the week, and both will scroll simultaneously to coordinate with the other, which is a great touch.
If you need to take a look at your entire month, just give the week ribbon a pull down. Small color-coordinated dots will show up days with events. To switch back, repeat the gesture. For your convenience, in both views, today is circled in red, and a search field is available between views. No matter what you’re looking for, Fantastical will search in real-time and you can filter results between Title, Location, Invitees, and All.
While the design of viewing your calendar is beautifully executed and superb, the real magic of Fantastical lies within adding events. Why is that? Because Fantastical uses natural language input for your events, and magically sorts out details based on what you write.
For those who are unfamiliar with natural language input, you basically write out your events in this fashion: “Have lunch with Bob on Thursday at 12 pm,” or “Grab coffee with Jamie tomorrow at 9 in the morning.” Fantastical will analyze your sentence and display a live preview of your event as it would show up in the calendar.
Of course, sometimes it may not be 100 percent perfect, so you can also tap on “Show details” to reveal an iOS-style event editor. For the most part, though, you probably won’t need to edit any details from this screen, except maybe changing the calendar you want to add the event to (if you use multiple calendars). I wish that the natural language detection would be able to determine which calendar to add it to, but from multiple attempts, it seems that it’s not possible.
Fantastical has a settings panel as well, which you can access at any time from within the app. In this screen, you can switch to month view, though it’s much easier to just perform the pull-down, personally. You can also choose which of your calendars to display, what day of the week to start on, show event end times, and toggle calendar weeks on month view.
I've been using Fantastical for the past couple of days, and it's becoming one of my most-used apps on my home screen. I had bought the Mac app when it first came out, and fell in love with the simplicity and ravishing design, and am incredibly pleased to see it brought over to the iPhone. It's incredibly fast to see the upcoming events I have laid out, and getting new events on my calendar has never been easier. Even though Agenda had some pretty fast event creation, I don't think anything can beat natural language input.
And that icon — seriously, how can you not fall in love with it?
Fantastical really does live up to the name, and you should definitely go download it in the App Store right now for $1.99 (50 percent off for a limited time). This is the calendar app you don't want to miss.
Make sure to check out their website for a video of Fantastical in action.