Fantastical 2 for iOS and MacOS Review
iOS and MacOS offer an in-built calendar app that is likely more than adequate for the majority of users of each platform. Flexibits’ Fantastical has a high asking price, but offers an excellent way to keep you organised on any given day, month or year.
The first thing that is immediately clear when using Fantastical on either your phone, iPad, or Mac is that it looks like a premium product. While the Apple calendar application is predominantly white, Fantastical offers a two-tone view that makes it easier to discern a list of appointments from the weekly or monthly views. It’s a seemingly small touch, but it makes it much easier to gather information at a glance than on similar apps.
One of the key selling points of Fantastical is in the way in which it translates natural text into calendar appointments, and the first few times you do it it can feel a little like magic. For example, entering “Dinner with John at 6 next Friday at X” will do exactly what you’d expect it to. If anything, it can make Siri look a bit redundant, and depending on where restaurant “X” is it can offer to remind you at the best time to leave - even taking traffic into account.
The app also takes into account time zones into its inputs, and can check the availability of most calendars of friends and colleagues. I say most, because at present iCloud doesn’t support this feature. If you can’t find availability, invitees can suggest new times too.
On Mac, this is amplified by the App’s menu bar icon. Clicking this allows a quick view of the calendar, but also the option to add an appointment within seconds. With all the major calendar services offered, this means the appointment you hastily tapped in is immediately available on all of your devices. The Mac also gets a handy widget with similar functionality - ideal for those that don’t like their menu bar cluttered with too many icons.
Of course, typing in an event is great, but if your event has been emailed to you, Fantastical has a solution for that too. By highlighting the appointment text and right clicking, you can add an appointment from your web browser, an email or anything else and pop it straight into Fantastical - which does a great job of extrapolating the pertinent information.
For those that have multiple calendars, you can arrange them in Calendar sets so that you can toggle from your personal calendars to your business ones and vice versa. It helps me identify that I have band practice or a family meal without getting in the way of my work deadlines and conference calls. It’s ideal for maintaining a work/life balance. These sets can be set to locations, too.
Thankfully, the iOS version features plenty of these features too. It offers a neat way of displaying different views by sliding down the calendar to change from weekly to monthly views, and the appearance feels equally as premium as its MacOS counterpart.
Selecting a date at the top of the screen highlights those dates below by bringing them to the top of the appointments list - making it much easier to identify what you’re up to on any given day.
The iPhone version also includes an Apple Watch app, with a complication that allows it to display the current day’s appointments right on the watch face. Opening the app also offers appointments over the next seven days in list form which is ideal at a glance.
With all of that power, there is so much to love about Fantastical 2. Unfortunately, the price is likely to be the difference maker for many. The MacOS version retails at £48.99, which puts it firmly in the “nice, but not that nice” territory for many Mac users. The iPad version is a further £9.99, and the iPhone and Apple Watch versions are available for £4.99. This means for the complete experience you’ll be looking to spend £63.97.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but the honest truth is that Fantastical is the best calendar app money can buy, regardless of the platform you buy it on. It’s power features will be overkill for some, but smart features like language integration and the ease at which you can view your appointments will make it a favourite with more casual users alike - if you don’t mind paying for it.