Tagged: sunrise

Finding a better iOS calendar app: Sunrise

Sunrise Calendar App IconIn case you missed it, I’m trying to find a better iOS calendar app. Next up, is Sunrise Calendar by Sunrise Atelier, Inc.

I first discovered Sunrise when I heard a designer from Foursquare (one of my favorite apps) had left for a new project. Sunrise was the new project. In the beginning Sunrise only offered integration with Google calendars, so I initially wrote it off as not for me.

Fast forward a few months and they updated the app to work with iCloud calendars. I decided it was time to take another look. I’m glad I did. The app has a great look. It’s simple, but not overly simple like the built-in calendar. If you’ve tried Sunrise in the past, but not recently, give it another go.

Supported calendars

It integrates with plenty of services, such as Facebook, Google, iCloud, LinkedIn and Foursquare. This is a unique feature, as it will automatically pull your Facebook and LinkedIn events right into your calendar. A nice Facebook tie-in will even let you RSVP to events right in Sunrise. The Foursquare integration is pretty cool too. it will add your check-ins, so if you can’t remember where you were yesterday for lunch, you can go back a day on your calendar and find out. It’s all easy to set up and covers more than I was even looking for.

Views

There’s two main views in Sunrise. The default view shows two weeks of a “month” view on top, with a list of your upcoming events below. If you swipe down on the two weeks, it turns into a full month. Each day can be tapped to jump to that day in the list view. There’s a handy button in the bottom left of the screen that jumps you back to the current day and time.

The list part of this view is clean and has a colored dot denoting which calendar it came from. In the case of Foursquare check-ins, those dots become larger and include the icon of the venue type. Birthdays have a present icon and if your event’s name is something like “party” or “meeting” other icons are automatically put in place. It’s kind of a nice little touch. If they’re looking for new features, I’d love to be able to add those icons to events manually when they don’t detect one (or rarely, choose the wrong one). In addition to your events, Sunrise also adds in weather forecasts into the list. A simple icon (sunny, cloudy, rain, etc) and the expected temperature for the morning and evening are added to each day. It’s another small detail that makes Sunrise stand out.

Tapping the three lines button at the top of the screen will take you to view two. This is a more standard “week” look. This can be nice if you’re looking to see how your time actually lines up throughout a day. For some reason this only works in portrait mode, meaning you only see three days at a time. I think it’d be a nice addition to add a landscape mode with a full week (or at least five days). Overall, I hardly use this view. It doesn’t offer much the default view can’t.

Adding events

Sunrise calendar app screenshots for adding events

The event add screen is pretty standard. You can add a location that is auto completed by Google’s database. That makes it easy to set the place you actually want, which later means easily getting directions with the Google Maps integration.

There’s not natural language adding, but since you can use your iCloud calendars, Siri is still an option. Sunrise does have some autofill options when you’re adding an event. If you start typing “call” or “breakfast” they’ll show up. A time-saver, but not as great as other options.

Conclusion

Overall Sunrise is one of the prettiest calendar apps. It has a great look and feel, and is easy to use. The small details like automatic icons and integration with so many services are major pluses. If there’s one thing really lacking it’s an innovative way to add events. Maybe that’s not a deal breaker, as the rest of it is so nice. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the best part of this app yet… it’s FREE. Yes, this good-looking, easy-to-use app won’t cost you a penny. I feel almost guilty using a such a quality app for nothing. My recommendation? Give this one a try. It won’t cost you anything and it’s a big step up from the standard iOS calendar.

Have you tried Sunrise? What do you think? Tell me in the comments.

Finding a better iOS calendar app: part one

iPhone screenshot of calendar appsI’m not a big fan of the standard iOS calendar app. I’m glad they simplified the user interface in iOS 7, but it’s almost too simple now. It may be even a bit harder to see and use over earlier versions. I’ve been on a quest over the last couple months of testing new calendar options.

The criteria

There are a few things an app needs to do well for me to make the switch full-time. First, it needs to integrate with iCloud calendars. I’m already set up on them, and I don’t plan on re-creating my workflow (again, since I already did that a few years ago with the switch from Android and Google calendars). I currently have a number of iCloud calendars and I am subscribed to a handful of other standard iCal feeds. The setup works pretty well for me and allows easy synching between my phone, my iPad and my laptop. My new app will need to easily plug into these calendars. Integrating Facebook is a major plus, but not a necessity.

It’s also important for me to have multiple views. Sometimes I have a day with six events and the next might have only one. I’d like an easy way to see my busy days versus my free time. Sometimes it’s important to see a whole month at a time, but often a good week view is preferred. I need to be able to drill into a day too. Just having colors on a day doesn’t tell me what’s actually happening that day. Basically, I need options. No one view will work all the time.

Next, I’m looking for something with a simple way to add events. It needs to be easy to do on the go and maybe most importantly, it needs to work quickly. I hate being slowed down as an app catches up with me. On my laptop I use Fantastical. It’s amazing; very quick, responsive and always in my menu bar ready to work. I know iOS is used differently, so I won’t find the same thing. I’m just looking to find something that’s fast and easy to use. Converting plain English like Fantastical on the Mac does would be a good start.

So now what?

Over the next few weeks I’m going to write-up some reviews of various calendar apps. To start, I’m going to take a look at Calendars 5, Fantastical 2 and Sunrise. What do you use? Tell me why you like it, and maybe I’ll add it to my review list.