Horizon Should Be Your New Go-To Calendar App

One of the things I love about having my iPhone on hand is that I’ve always got a calendar with me. But I’ve always felt like using the stock Calendar app was similar to using a public restroom: I’m in and out and doing my thing as quickly as possible. I don’t want to spend a lot of time in there. It got a little better with the iPhone 5’s taller screen, but it’s still not great.

There are a lot of great calendar alternatives available in the open market. In fact, we’ve reviewed some great ones here at AppStorm, including the popular Fantastical, which blew our minds with its natural language processing. Recently though, I’ve had the opportunity to test Horizon, a great calendar app with a gorgeous interface that combines weather, natural language processing and your upcoming events. Read on to find out why this app could be giving Fantastical a run for its money.
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Clean and Sophisticated

Horizon is the rare sort of app: It manages to provide all sorts of information (more than any of its kind, really) without ever appearing cluttered. Horizon provides the day’s weather forecast — everything from rain or sun to the high and low temperature — right alongside your to-do list. It also supports all the same calendars that Apple’s stock app does.

I really like going to the movies, okay?

I really like going to the movies, okay?

Smartly, your agenda is presented in a list format that keeps everything from getting cluttered. The weather sits on the right of each day, and your events sit on the left. The interface changes to a darker mode automatically at night (which is changeable in the settings), but most importantly, contrast always remains high and your schedule is always beautiful and easy to read.

If you need to see a monthly view, you can do that by dragging down on the Month on the top of the screen. From there, swiping left or right allows you to look at upcoming or previous monthly schedules.

The month view is minimalist, but lovely.

The month view is minimalist, but lovely.

Visually, I think this might be the most smartly-designed calendar app on the App Store. I think the typography is smartly chosen and the weather icons, while familiar, aren’t ambiguous. The whole thing is really quite clear and it’s really easy to take a quick look at what your day is going to look like.

Natural Language Parsing

And with Horizon’s most recent major update, the app now provides Natural Language Parsing (not unlike Fantastical). This means that you can say “Lunch with John tomorrow at noon at Baker Street Station,” and the app will program that was “Lunch with John” at “Baker Street Station” from noon to one on the next day’s schedule.

I love choosing a specific location from the bar above the keyboard.

I love choosing a specific location from the bar above the keyboard.

There are three things I’d like to mention here that really separate Horizon’s NLP ability from the rest of the pack. The first is that each aspect of your event is given a different colour as you punch it in for extra emphasis. That’s a really smart move; it makes the app all the easier to understand.

The second smart twist is that when you start typing in where your event will be, Intelligent Lookup takes over. It’s a little bar above the keyboard that automatically searches for relevant places near you. I’m now able to find exact addresses for every one of my events without ever going into Google, which I think is incredible.

All I typed in for location was YMCA, and I let the app handle the rest.

All I typed in for location was YMCA, and I let the app handle the rest.

Finally, the Natural Language Parsing in Horizon also supports Dictation if you have an iPhone with capable hardware. When you add up all three of these little twists, you encounter the most powerful event planner in the App Store. I wish I could come up with a flaw, but I really think this part of the app is perfect.

Weather Forecasts

It’s only with the weather forecasts themselves that I find the app stumbles. I like in a rather unpredictable part of Canada, weather-wise, and find the weather forecast to be reasonably accurate in Horizon. But it’s never as dead-on as Check the Weather or Forecast.io is.

Detailed weather information is available from the Day View, which is only ever one tap away.

Detailed weather information is available from the Day View, which is only ever one tap away.

Kyle Rosenbluth, Horizon’s developer, tells me that he gets the weather from HAMweather, which I’ve seen used before and never found to be quite as accurate as some of the alternatives. Usually, it only has a variance of a couple degrees between it and other apps, but for some people, those two or three degrees will make a noticeable difference in clothing (particularly during the spring here in Canada).

That being said, even if the weather was dead-on every time, I still don’t think Horizon could be the only weather app you’ll ever need. That’s a shame, because it could be, even if Kyle doesn’t pitch it that way in the App Store’s description.

Making Horizon Even Better

Right now, I think Horizon should be your go-to calendar app, but I think there’s room for improvement with the way it handles weather. Currently, tapping on an event takes you to the Day View in the app. That Day View has a detailed weather view. Tapping on it reveals further detail, like what it will feel like outside compared to the forecasted highs and lows, wind speeds and humidity percentage.

I’d like to propose two changes that I think could really make the app, far and away, the only app you’ll ever need to use for your weather and calendar needs.

If you tap on the weather, you get even more detailed information. But I wish you pulled down instead of tapping.

If you tap on the weather, you get even more detailed information. But I wish you pulled down instead of tapping.

First, I don’t like tapping on the weather in the Day View to get a more detailed description. I want to pull down on the weather display. It feels more cathartic and it’s a natural way to see more information, plus it would be similar to pulling down on the Month to see a monthly calendar.

Secondly, I really wish I could see the current temperature somewhere in the app. It’s nice to see the forecasted highs and lows, but if I’m going to walk my dog, I’d love to know how warm (or cold) it is outside right now. Then I could finally knock my preferred weather app off my home screen and free up space for whatever other distraction I think is more deserving of my immediate attention.

You Need This App

I could probably write a couple books about the lessons I think many iOS developers could learn from Kyle’s work with this, from the way the Settings icon spins while the forecast refreshes, to the way the weather adjusts itself to reflect the location your upcoming events are in. But admittedly, it’s not all perfect. I’m not a huge fan of the dark theme — I think the colours could use some tweaking to be just a bit more high-contrast — so I’ve turned it off. And I do wish that the weather was a sliver more accurate and that I could see the current temperature. There are also a couple very minor bugs, but when I emailed Kyle about them, he told me he already had a fix on the way (and emailed back in record time). My complaints are minimal compared to how well Horizon works. All in all, Horizon is the best and most sophisticated calendar app I’ve ever used, and I can’t recommend it more highly.


Summary

A top-notch calendar that's incredible now and has even more potential down the road. It's unique weather/calendar combo is smart and its natural language parsing is divine.

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  • Jan V.

    Does it handle invites? The problem for me with non-native apps for calendars and contacts etc is that for some core functions I still have to go back to the native one. If I use this app for my calendar I want it on my first screen and I want the native app tucked away in a folder somewhere. But when invites only trigger the native app, that defeats the purpose of a “better” replacement app and I always end up going back to the native one.

  • jaystrab

    The month view doesn’t look good to me. All the lines under the day numbers are annoying. And why is the bottom half all dark like there’s an overlay over it? Fantastical is much nicer.

  • Andrew D

    one would assume this works with iCal / iCloud?

    • Kyle Rosenbluth

      Yes it does.

  • Guest

    Is it me or does this not allow for deletion of calendar events?

  • http://www.koandesign.com/ Fabien

    So far I’m more than happy with Sunrise but I may have different needs

  • Knut B. Håland

    Great app for my use. Converting from GTD system in Pocket Informant into TSW (Evernote) and new Calendar (Horizon) as of yesterday.

    Would like the iPad version to be a real iPad version and not like the iPhone version and that landscape mode should be possible (is not now).