Agenda 4.0 Unites Calendar Events and Reminders

Let’s be honest, the stock Calendar app on the iPhone isn’t that great. If it was everything some of us made it out to be, we probably wouldn’t go searching for alternatives like Fantastical or Horizon (my preferred app). But every calendar app I tried was still missing something that seemed like an intuitive addition to me: Reminders integration.

Every calendar app except Agenda, that it is. Agenda 4.0 is a rethinking of the popular app that includes integration with Reminders and a host of other features that’s going to keep app junkies really happy. In fact, I’d wager to say most app junkies already have it. But is it for everybody? Read on to find out.

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Welcome to Your New Agenda

Agenda’s interface has been described by some as everything that Apple should have strived for with their own app. It’s certainly nice-looking, with a lot of little details that make it stand out, but I hesitate to call it beautiful.

Welcome to your new Agenda.

Welcome to your new Agenda.

It is, however, very well done. It provides three different ways to look at your calendar: a six-month birds-eye view, a day view and a list view. And to get to each one, all you have to do is swipe from left to right, or vice versa. There’s an additional Settings screen as well. And every little swipe is animated nicely.

Get a birds-eye view on six months.

Get a birds-eye view on six months.

The birds-eye view, which shows you six months, isn’t overly useful for me. It doesn’t highlight what days have events on them like the stock Calendar app or like Horizon does, so I can’t really get a birds-eye view of my month or anything like that.

The list is my preferred way to go through the app.

The list is my preferred way to go through the app.

I like the day view, which has a great little animation as you swipe up and down to move from one day to the next, but I prefer the list animation for my own personal uses. It’s the easiest way to get lots of information at once, and it never feels overly cluttered.

The little pop-up detail is simple enough.

The little pop-up detail is simple enough.

Tapping on an event or reminder will fly out a little menu with all the information you need, which is pretty handy. It also offers editing and the ability to share them via iMessage or email.

Integrating Reminders

The app is unique in that it’s the only calendar app I’ve used personally that includes both calendar events and reminders from Apple’s stock app. Frankly, I’m surprised nobody’s thought of this before.

You can get a good idea of how the app handles different labels here.

You can get a good idea of how the app handles different labels here.

The app uses colour labels to distinguish between a calendar event and a reminder. I have two different lists in Reminders — one for personal things and one for work-related things. In Agenda, reminders have a square icon. My personal list has a purple square next to each item, like a square bullet point, and my calendars have circles beside them coloured very similarly to the colours I’ve given them in Apple’s Calendar app.

I love the way the app integrates with Reminders, and I love the way it differentiates using colours. In fact, this app is as good a reason I’ve seen to use Reminders as any other. That being said, Agenda is obviously better at handling Reminders if you’re using it as more than a grocery list.

Integrating Everything Else

The app doesn’t stop with integrating Reminders, though. The app uses URL schemes to let the user choose the default app they want to use when they open a web link (Safari or Chrome) and when they open a map link (Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps).

Until Apple lets you change the defaults across iOS, every app should have this built in.

Until Apple lets you change the defaults across iOS, every app should have this built in.

The app also offers the ability to create an event using the in-app menu in Agenda or using Fantastical — if you have Fantastical installed, of course. The benefit to using Fantastical is that it supports natural language parsing. So although Agenda won’t parse your language if you type “Lunch at 2 on Thursday with Katherine,” Fantastical will do that and Agenda makes it easy to use that option.

If adding events like this doesn't work for you, you can always integrate the app with Fantastical.

If adding events like this doesn’t work for you, you can always integrate the app with Fantastical.

It’s a great option and I’m glad they included it in the app, but I wish Agenda also allowed you to create an event with Horizon, my preferred calendar app, for its natural language parsing as well. Horizon recently added a URL scheme though, so it’s possible the folks at Savvy Apps just haven’t had time to build it into Agenda.

That highlights the problem with third-party app integration, though. Now that Savvy Apps has started doing it, they won’t be able to stop. Users will continue requesting the addition of other apps to the service, like Horizon, and if Savvy Apps doesn’t honour the requests, users won’t feel like they’re being taken care of and they won’t use the app. It’s a slippery slope, one that I hope Savvy Apps handles carefully.

Missed Opportunities

Beyond that, there is one tremendous flaw in the app, and that lies with the Reminders integration. Although adding a reminder is easy, and you can even choose which list you want to use, I can’t for the life of me find a way to check a reminder off as complete.

I mean, I’ve tried everything. I’ve tapped every button. It’s simply not there, and if it is there, I don’t suspect anybody’s going to have an easy time finding the option. I want to make sure I check off all my lists as I go, and it’s a bit of a shame to me because Agenda doesn’t allow me to do that. It requires me to keep opening the stock Reminders app, which means Reminders is going to take up another place on my home screen when it shouldn’t have to.

Agenda 4.0’s promise is that it was going to solve this problem.

Final Thoughts

Agenda 4.0 is really well-designed, but in all honesty, the fact that I can’t check off a reminder sort of defeats the purpose for me. The idea is to display both in one app so I don’t need to use both on a daily basis, or at least, that’s how I perceive it should be.

But I still have to use Reminders on a daily basis to mark to-dos as complete. By Agenda’s own admission, Fantastical’s natural language parsing makes it a more pleasurable way to add events, so Agenda isn’t necessarily the best way to manage my calendar either.

In that sense, Agenda is smartly designed and very intuitive. For people who want to see both their calendar and their to-do list for the day on one screen, it’s a Godsend. Unfortunately, the functionality sort of ends there, which is a shame because Agenda could be the king of all daily planners. I’m hoping to see an update that improves on Reminders integration in the near future — and if/when that happens, Agenda could become my new default app on iOS.


Agenda misses an opportunity by not allowing you to mark Reminders as completed, but it's also one of the most well-designed and functional calendar apps available.