A Few Alternative iPad Calendars

June 13, 2011 by Gabe | [mmd] |

Listen: I have become stuck in time. Unseen forces have conspired against me to spend an inordinate amount of time watching clocks and calendars. My work is now measured by hours. Yes, billable time is now part of my workflow.

Now that I am required to capture my work load by measures of time I need some new methodology. At my job, we are required to input our “timesheet” into Microsoft Project (Enterprise Ultra Premium Edition with nuts). However, it’s not the most friendly way to record my daily activities.

As an alternative, I attempted to use my iPad to record my billable time during the week for a final transcription to the Project Server on Fridays. While the default calendar app is perfectly capable for basic record keeping I started to browse the iOS app store for some alternatives. I tried several, but found three apps that I felt most comfortable with. Here are my basic criteria for a new calendar app:

1. the current date must be displayed on the app icon
2. It must be more useful than the default calendar app for recording and looking up my recorded timesheet entries.
3. It must support all iOS calendars including Exchange

Week Cal HD

Week Cal HD is more or less a prettier version of the default calendar app. No additional functionality that I found valuable other an an improved search field. The Week Cal search field allows a user to select a date range in addition to search text. That is very useful when trying to limit a project search to just this week or month. (Note: this app was removed from the app store just before I published this review.)

Pocket Informant HD

This app is more of an organizational tool than a calendar. It has an integrated task list on top of the calendar features. I use OmniFocus to manage my tasks so this feature doesn’t appeal to me. However, there is one very useful calendar feature that makes Informant HD a contender: event templates.

Event templates allow you define an unlimited number of generic calendar events and add them to a quick list. When a user wants to add an event, there is an option to use one of the templates. This allows quick entry of similar events to a calendar

miCal HD

I’m not sure if this pronounced “my Cal” or “me Cal” but the app is a nice replacement for the default app. MiCal has some well thought out ideas. For example, when creating a new calendar event, there is a customizable quick list of titles. There is also a history of recent event titles as well as title suggestions. This is a huge time saver. To add billed time to my calendar, I just tap the “+” icon and select the project name from my quick list and set the time that I worked on that project. Quick and easy.

Additionally, miCal has some nice customization options that make it my new calendar of choice. For example:

1. Custom default event durations. Mine are always defaulted to 30min. I've found most people don't take 15min meeting invites seriously. Sad but true.
2. Custom event colors
3. Default primary, secondary and all-day-event reminders. I can't emphasize enough how useless 15min reminders are when you need to find a meeting in a building that yo have never been to.
4. Integrated weather forecast. Simple accurate and pretty.
5. Sync after background. That means the calendar is always up to date when you need to schedule something new.

Finally

Next app review, I will hit on some time tracking apps aimed more specifically at billable hours. For now, I have switched to miCal HD as a general replacement for the calendar app. Pocket Informant HD was a close second, but in the end I already have a task management solution called OmniFocus.

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