Calendar apps have a tough job. Everyone needs one, but everyone is looking for something different out of them. I want a concise look at the day ahead, but you might want a spaced-out view of your week, and someone else might want a super-dense look at their entire month.
The best calendar apps do a good job presenting your schedule no matter how you want to view it. They make it easy to understand your day and to plan out the weeks and months ahead.
Google's app store is filled with a ton of strange, dense, and downright challenging calendar apps designed for some mythical, godlike superuser. But in between all of those are a few gems — apps with clean, customizable designs that are a pleasure to use. And it just so happens that the best of them is made by Google itself.
Google has long had one of the better calendar apps for Android, and with Sunrise — our old favorite — out of the way, it's hard to say anything else does it better.
What makes Google so successful is that it focuses on what matters — making your schedule easy to read, making the app easy to navigate, and making events easy to add — and does what matters better than anybody else.
The app has viewing options that'll please everyone, and Google makes it easy to jump between them without digging through menus. This is great if you want to quickly dive into a broader or more detailed view of your schedule. Google Calendar is also the only Android app I tested that supports natural language-style event entry ("Lunch with Dan on Wednesday at Two Boots"), which is a huge advantage if you're frequently making plans while mobile.
There are still some areas that Google Calendar could do better. Integration with third-party apps, like Sunrise used to have, would make it much more flexible for serious digital organizers. And the ability to add helpful calendars, like sports schedules, and to view embedded maps seem like obvious and simple additions.
The Runner Up
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If you want to go a step up from Google Calendar, without getting too much more complicated, DigiCal is your answer.
DigiCal is basically Google Calendar with more features: interesting calendars — ranging from TV schedules to moon phases — additional view options, and weather info for up to two weeks ahead. One small touch that I love: in week view, you can tap on an event to get a pop-up with more info, without requiring you to dive into a new screen.
There are a lot of places that DigiCal takes a narrow edge over Google Calendar. But it has a few drawbacks. The biggest being that there's no natural language entry for new events, which is a major drawback if you enter new events from your phone. You also have to pay extra to use all of DigiCal's best features. Removing ads costs $5, which isn't much. But weather is an extra $1.50 per year, and interesting calendars are an extra $3.50 per year.
If you think those features are worth paying for, then get DigiCal, it's great. But without them, it's just Google Calendar with ads.