In the age of the iPhone, the art of managing a calendar is so efficient that we barely have to spend any time thinking about it. Like a high-priced personal assistant, our calendars work even when we’re not staying on top of them, dutifully pulling dates from emails and messages, and making sure we never forget a friend’s birthday. The smart, sophisticated iOS interface has turned calendar-keeping from an active, urgent responsibility into a passive one, and pretty much everyone who owns an iPhone now partakes in some form of day planning.
The best iOS calendars in the field don’t just look great, they offer their own unique concepts, distinguishing themselves by how they handle and present our data. Whether it’s event input, intelligence, social integration, or notifications, calendar app makers have added a wealth of features and functionality to the stock iOS calendar, to the point where Apple has even begun to borrow popular features just to keep up.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the impending shutdown of Sunrise (which was scheduled to fold on Aug. 31, but Microsoft stayed its execution). When it launched back in 2012, it offered a refreshing spin on the classic calendar. With a variety of app integrations, it combined events from places like Facebook, Eventbrite, LinkedIn, and Foursquare to create a complete picture of your work and play commitments. Smart, slick, and stylish, its color-coded events and minimal monthly view set a new standard for digital day planning, showcasing the enormous potential of multitouch and the untapped power of iOS. A steady stream of updates made it one of the best and most popular calendars in the App Store until Microsoft bought it in 2015 and subsequently announced that Sunrise would shutter this week. The company delayed the move to bring more features to Microsoft's Outlook email app.
But while bits of Sunrise can be found in Outlook, its influence can be felt on calendars all over the App Store. Its sleek design and unique concept paved the way for generations of digital day planners, and dejected devotees won’t have to look far to find a worthy replacement. Here’s our list of favorites.
Fantastical’s slick design gives you a tidy overview of your schedule, whether in day, week or month view.
There are calendar apps, and then there is Fantastical ($5 for iPhone, $10 for iPad). What started as a Mac utility for die-hard date keepers has turned into the measuring stick for all other mobile calendar apps. From its perfectly-calibrated views to its downright pleasurable input screen, Fantastical doesn’t just live up to its lofty name—you’d be hard-pressed to find a flattering adjective that doesn’t apply.
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