Calendars: Full-Featured Google Calendar for iPhone

The default iPhone calendar has remained largely unchanged since the launch of the first iPhone. It’s a solid app that is designed very well, possesses a number of helpful ways to view your calendar, allows you to set reminders and more.

With Calendars for iPhone, you can get the same great functionality with your Google Calendar account. Let’s take a look at the interface and some of the app’s best features.

Starting Up

The first time you open Calendars, you’ll be asked to log in to your Google Calendar account. Just make sure you have a Google ID from Gmail or some other service, even if you’ve never used the Google Calendar before, you’ll should be signed up for it automatically.

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Sign in and Calendar Screens

After you sign in, you’ll be taken into the calendar screen on the right. By default, the month view should pop up showing you all the items you have on your various Google Calendars for the current month.

To change months, simply swipe the bar at the bottom or tap the left and right arrows at the top of the screen,

Other Views

Just like in your iPhone’s default calendar app, you have several different views to choose from: List, Day, Week or Month. The month view is shown above and the other three are below.

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Alternate Views

In the day view, you can see an hour by hour timeline. Each event has a nice tap and drag feature that allows you to resize and/or move it. The list feature shows all of your events in a linear view so you can easily see what’s coming up next. Finally, the week view is a zoomed in look at the next seven days.

Adding Events

Calendars gives you two different ways to add events. The easiest method is to simply tap a date. This will bring up a little window that allows you to quickly add an event using only a title (shown below on the left).

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Adding Events

Alternatively, you can hit the little plus button in the top right of the app to add an event with more options. Here you can set beginning and ending times, duration, toggle “all day,” indicate the location, set notifications, add a description, include other attendees, and set the event to repeat.

The event settings are quite thorough and certainly don’t leave you wanting for additional options. The event notifications can be sent via email, sms, or push alert.

Calendars and Settings

Tapping on the calendar icon in the upper left of the interface will bring you to a list of the calendars in your account. Here you can set each calendar to active or inactive and create new calendars. Unfortunately, you can’t actually delete calendars from within the app.

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Calendars and Settings

To access the app’s settings, tap the gear icon in the lower left. Here you can force manual syncs, set the default calendar and change accounts.

Syncing with iCal

One of the great things about this app is that it provides the final piece of the puzzle for you to easily and wirelessly sync your schedule across your Mac, iPhone and web-based calendars.

The default iPhone calendar syncs with your Mac, but only when physically connected to iTunes. You can achieve a constant sync through MobileMe, but you’ll have to fork out the yearly subscription costs. With Calendars, you can leverage Google Calendar and CalDAV to achieve a near-perfect system without any subscription cost.

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Syncing with iCal

To begin, go to Preferences in iCal and click the Accounts tab. Click the plus button to add an account and simply type in your Google email address and password (leave account type at automatic).

Now load that same account into Calendars on your iPhone and you’ll be ready to go. When you add, change or delete an event in the Google browser interface, iCal or the Calendars app, the change will be automatically reflected across all the other access points.

Closing Thoughts

Though I’m not too crazy about the paper texture dominant throughout the interface, Calendars is an otherwise perfect experience. It contains all of the important features from the iPhone’s default app and adds a few of its own.

I greatly preferred having Google Calendars in a dedicated application as opposed to the online interface, especially since this app can be used offline. Further, the fact that it’s so easy to integrate the app with both Google Calendars and iCal just might make Calendars a permanent and integral part of my work day.

My final thought is that $6.99 seems a bit too high considering the fact that you can simply add the Google Calendar web app to your home screen for free. You definitely get more convenience and functionality with Calendars, but most of it isn’t exactly innovative but is instead more of a clone of the default iPhone calendar app. There are a few competitors such as GoCal that give you much of the same functionality for a lower price.

Leave a comment below and let us know which Google Calendar apps you’ve tried and how you think they stack up to the app above in both pricing and features.


Summary

Calendars is an excellent fully-featured Google Calendar client for your iPhone. It contains many of the same features as you'll find in the default iPhone calendar app and makes it easy to maintain a consistent schedule across your iPhone, Google Calendar and iCal on your Mac.

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