Fantastical 2

The Iconfactory's redesign for Fantastical 2 is so precious.
The Iconfactory's redesign for Fantastical 2 is so nice.

So Here We Are at App Slot Number Two

I had written quite a lengthy post devoted to all the ins and outs of this app. But then my domain crashed and I lost everything. In light of these events, I will instead go for the ‘less is more’ approach. While there are so many aspects of the app I could touch on, I will focus on only the most important aspects in which Fantastical 2 sets itself apart from the stock Calendar app and Sunrise, and Calendars 5, and etc.

Claim to Fame

When Flexibits introduced Fantastical in 2012, it was a favorite among many nerds like me. Despite its reliance on the stock Calendar app for “Push” notifications (there were no real push notifications), its natural language parsers was (is) the bee’s knees.

It’s as simple as this:

  1. Launch the app
  2. Press the “+” button on the top right
  3. Start typing like you would explain the event/task to another human
  4. Done.
Yeah, that's it. Never again.
Easy-peasy.

Functionality

For version 2, Flexibits also included a fourth row of keys, accessible without having to press the “123” button on the lower left portion of the keyboard. Nice.

Also in this version is a new Week view for Landscape mode:

Does anyone actually use their iPhone in landscape?
Does anyone actually use their iPhone in landscape?

A big feature update for Fantastical 2 was the integration of the stock Reminders app. For all the reasons for foregoing the stock Calendar app, there exist just as many reasons for foregoing the stock Reminders app. Fantastical 2 lets me do that.

Reminders in Fantastical are such a nice feature
Reminders in Fantastical are such a nice feature

Design

At first glance, not a whole lot has changed since the iOS 6 version of Fantastical. The reddish top bar remains, albeit with a much brighter and iOS 7-like hue. There is also a new Light theme, which, again, is pretty iOS 7 feeling. I like it and have been using it for a bit.

I’m the first to admit that when it comes to a lot of the visual and otherwise UI/UX changes iOS 7 brought, the grass was definitely not greener. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the sweeping changes Jony Ive brought. The skeumorphic touches that Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall favorited were like vestigial organs, once they were necessary, but now they are obsolete. In 2007, I’m sure everyone really did need the Notes app to have all that chrome. But this isn’t 2007, it’s 2014. I just wish Ive would have spent a little bit more time in the details (more on that later).

Fantastical (iOS 6) Fantastical 2 Dark theme Fantastical 2 Light theme
Fantastical for iOS 6, and Fantastical 2 for iOS 7 only, Dark theme and Light theme

The Competition

Sunrise

Sunrise tries to be a ‘Fantastical+,’ but ultimately eschews parsing prowess for social.

The weather and iconography is nice, no doubt. But the parser, well, there is no parser. This is like the stock Calendar app. That sucks.
The iconography is nice, but there is no parser.

Overall, Sunrise is quite pretty. It has more white space, and doesn’t feel as task-y as Fantastical. But, if you haven’t guessed it already, I am the type of person who wants to get as much information as possible on the screen (within reason). Sunrise isn’t that.

Calendars 5

This is kind of an oddball. It’s biggest pro is the unique portrait Day view, which is like what Fantastical 2 does in Landscape, only in portrait. Its parser is closer to Fantastical than Sunrise, and its design is more spartan than Sunrise, and to some extent, Fantastical.

Calendars 5 Not as good as Fantastical
Meh.

Summary

When I am at work, I often only have a few of minutes between patients. And when it does come time to add an event or make a reminder, my goto apps are Fantastical and Drafts (more on that later). I want to be able to add an event quickly, lock my phone, put it in my pocket, and go on with my day. Fantastical is the bomb for this.

Fantastical 2 is only $1.99—a small price to pay for the expediency and utility it provides. I have quite a few thoughts on the current state of paid apps on the App Store (more on that later), but suffice it to say that I am more than willing to spend money on apps that make my iOS experience better. Fantastical is one of those apps.

The Pros

The Cons