In my experience, there are two types of calendar people: those who are constantly looking to improve their setup to manage their appointments even more efficiently, and then there are those who don’t understand what the fuss is all about.
Usually, people from one category would use a very different calendar app than people from the second group because specific demands are different. Surprisingly enough, there is a universal app that fits the needs of all. Folks, meet Tempus.
The no-nonsense calendar app
What is it that we want out calendar to do? I don’t know about you, but I want my calendar to help me enter events quickly and show me relevant information just as fast. When you get a request for a meeting or an appointment time, nothing is more embarrassing to me than to have to fiddle with complicated settings and force others to wait. I want to find what I’m looking for with as little taps as necessary.
Well, that’s where Tempus comes in. The developers Mysterious Trousers praise it as the minimal calendar for iPhone and iPad and it really is. It’s easy going and makes friends with your existing MobileMe/iCloud, Google and Exchange calendars. Personally, I’ve set it up with both iCloud for my personal data and Microsoft Exchange for business appointments and it works without a hitch.
Tempus is aimed at presenting you a wealth of information with as little visual clutter as possible. You see it in the screenshots above. The default calendar view shows one month with the days arranged in a grid and the colored dots represent appointments you have on a given day. The colors are taken from your existing calendars.
If you don’t need all your calendars displayed, there’s an option to uncheck those you want to disappear. You are not deleting anything, don’t worry; you just make them invisible. And if you need to increase the contrast between the calendar colors to make the dots more distinguishable, there’s a setting for that as well and Tempus tempts you with a wealth of colors to choose from (I tried to count them, but gave up). Within the calendar options you can also set you default calendar — that’s the calendar your events will be added to during creation if you don’t change it to something else.
Look at it the way you like it
Now that you know how to manage your calendars, lets get back to actually looking at your events. The monthly overview is great to see if you are having a busy or lazy day, but other than that you don’t get any immediate information out of it. Now, with a simple tap on any day you can bring up the event view which is basically an ever-scrollable list of events. The day you tapped will be a the very top of the screen.
All-day events will be shown at the top of a daily list of events and the rest of your appointments will follow in chronological order. While I like the simplicity of the display with the colored dots to make the associaton with a calendar easier, I sometimes miss seeing the end time of an event. Of course, you can tap an event to see more details, but I’d love to see it there as well (Tempus “big” brother Fast Calendar can do that quite nicely, though).
But, wait! Let’s see what happens if you turn your iPhone into landscape mode. Then you will see a your events as blocks within an hourly week-view. As with the list view, this one is indefinitely scrollable as well.
Overall, while I’d like to have certain information available in the list view, I can live with tilting my iPhone and getting a different take on the same information. Looking at it from a designer’s perspective, it’s probably the only way to keep the interface uncluttered and still get as much information in there as possible.
Creating events — Tap and be done.
Now, aside from displaying information, I mentioned in my introduction that the creating of new events is of paramount importance to me. I want it to be simple and fast and that’s exactly what Tempus does.
There are several ways of creating a new event. In the calendar view and the list view you can tap the “+” sign; in the landscape view you long-tap the time when an event is supposed to start. The same goes for the month-view.
From there it’s a simple matter of entering the name of the event, tapping in the time and you could be done already. It’s really simple and fast. But if you need to tweak it, that’s a breeze as well. In the initial set-up screen for an event, you can swipe across the right time panel and set an all-day event. When you tap More you can change the calendar, add notes, persons, a location, a reminder (even multiple ones!) or delete the event.
Once again, you can adjust the event options in the settings. If you never invite people, take that option out of the screen. The same goes for pretty much any other setting.
Tempus was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect to be able to work so nicely with such a minimal display of information. I set the app to open in the list view instead of the month view because I usually fire up my calendar app to check my appointments throughout the day. The simple list provided me with what I needed to know and didn’t distract with anything else, which I liked a lot. Overall, Tempus is as powerful or as simple as you need it to be and to me that’s the mark of a great app.