I’ve been a fan of Fantastical for Mac by Flexibits since it was released last year and I was very excited to hear it was coming to the iPhone. Despite this excitement, I was a little skeptical that Flexibits could duplicate the utility and ease of use present in the Mac version on the iPhone. But using Fantastical for iPhone over the past few days has done away with my doubts and Fantastical will be a strong contender for many to replace the iPhone’s built-in Calendar app.
To step back a little, Fantastical for Mac is a calendar utility that lets you use natural language (e.g., “Lunch with Arn on Friday at noon”) to create new calendar events and reminders, which is parsed pretty damn accurately into real items. Since it integrates with iCal (or BusyCal, Entourage, or Outlook), anything you do with Fantastical will be reflected in your primary calendar application automatically, and then synced to your iOS devices accordingly if you’re using iCloud. You can invoke Fantastical with a keyboard shortcut or click on its icon in your Mac’s menu bar, making it super easy to get to in order to create new calendar items instead of opening iCal.
On the iPhone, Fantastical works largely the same way. You can create new calendar events using natural language by typing or using voice dictation if you’ve got an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5. Fantastical parses your entry and transforms it into an event without requiring you to jump around to fill out bunch of different fields to specify the event’s name, time, location, and more as you would need to in the built-in Calendar app.
Here’s a video I recorded of Fantastical in action on my iPhone 5:
As you can see, the natural language feature works wonderfully and I’ve yet to see it bungle any of my calendar entries. It is far easier than creating a new entry in the built-in Calendar app with its multiple screens and fields you need to fill out to create even a simple event.
I know what you’re thinking. If you’ve got one of those new-fangled iPhones with Siri, why not just use that to create your events since Siri can pretty much do the same thing? Well, you’re right. Siri is how I create new calendar events and reminders these days most of the time. But, for those times when it’s not appropriate or feasible to talk out loud to your phone or if you have an older iPhone that doesn’t have Siri, Fantastical is a joy to use and beats the built-in Calendar hands down.
There is one feature that Fantastical for iPhone is missing and I feel bad for even mentioning it since it’s not something that Apple even allows: the ability to show the current date on the app’s icon on your home screen. Apple does this with its own Calendar app but won’t let anyone else do it, which is a bit of a cheap trick in my opinion. But, it’s something I’ve come to rely on and I didn’t exactly realize how much until I swapped Fantastical for Calendar on my iPhone’s home screen while testing it. A work-around here could be to imitate what several weather apps, like one of my favorites, Fahrenheit, have done–use a push notification number badge to show the current date. This isn’t the cleanest solution but it would still be incredibly useful for me and put Fantastical on my home page and relegate Calendar to my Apple-apps-I-never-use-but-can’t-delete folder.
Fantastical for iPhone is available now at a special introductory price of $1.99, which is 50% off its full price so get now before it goes up. Also, in celebration of the release of Fantastical for iPhone, the Mac version is also 50% off for a limited time, bringing its price down to $9.99 from $19.99, so now is a good time to snap it up if you want the Fantastical experience on your computer as well.