Going by the number of calendar alternatives in the iTunes App Store, nobody seems satisfied with Apple’s offering. Even with so many good choices, we feel Sunrise trumps them all thanks to its intuitive interface, great features, and support for so many calendar services.
- Compatible with Google Calendar, iCloud, and Exchange.
- Hybrid app works with your iPhone and iPad.
- Syncs in real-time and in the background.
- Quickly add an event with real language (e.g. “Lunch tomorrow at 1pm!”).
- Add reminders the same way.
- Include Facebook events and birthdays.
- Weather forecasts based on your location included in your daily agenda.
- Use Google Maps for directions.
- Connect multiple Google Calendars.
- No ads—completely free.
Where It Excels
Sunrise is beautiful and easy to use. By default, you get a straightforward agenda view that shows you exactly what’s coming up over the next day or so on all your calendars, plus the local weather. You can access the day you want to view, too, and open up an entire month to quickly find the date you’re looking for. If or when you prefer, you can also switch over to a traditional calendar view and see everything scheduled out at specific times.
Aside from having a great and intuitive feature set, Sunrise works with just about everything. You have support for Google Calendar, iCloud, and Exchange—pretty much everything you’d need.
Where It Falls Short
Sunrise doesn’t necessarily fall short in any department, but there are some calendar apps that offer additional features that Sunrise just doesn’t have. If a simple, everyday calendar isn’t your thing you might find this one doesn’t meet all of your criteria. Check out the competition section below for more options.
Canary (Free) is really the main competitor. While not quite so intuitive, it provides a fantastic view of your day and how much free time you have. You can then switch into regular calendar mode to add and view other events. It displays Facebook events and birthdays and makes scheduling a breeze. If it supported more than Google Calendar and was a bit easier to navigate, it would definitely be our top choice. (It’s the top choice of Nick Denton, who owns Lifehacker and all of Gawker. If you have tons of meetings and events to deal with, you’ll probably appreciate it just the same.)
Cal by Any.Do (Free) feels pretty similar to Sunrise, except Sunrise supports more services. Cal, however, will important a lot of different kinds of data and keep it in sync with Any.Do’s services. Speaking of which, it handles reminders by integrating into the Any.Do app, so that’s a big plus if you already use it.
Fantastical 2 ($ 5) is a great calendar app that’s easy to use. It was our top pick prior Sunrise. That said, it’s not really better any any way and it costs $ 5 while Sunrise is free. You won’t go wrong using it, but you’ll be spending $ 5 for pretty much no reason.
Week Cal ($ 2), our (former) former favorite calendar app, packs in a lot. Like most of the competition, it offers multiple views for your events and tasks. Where it truly excels, however, is in how easy it is to use such a vast number of features and still see all the information you need directly from any view. You can still scan the events of your day quickly even in year view, simply by tapping a date. Moving events around works just like moving apps on your home screen—you tap and hold, then drag it to where you want. Everything is very intuitive, it feels like you’re using iCal or Google Calendar but in a way that’s suited for your iPhone. Basically, it has the elegance of a minimal calendar app while still retaining a very respectable set of features.
Calvetica, or Fast Calendar and Tasks ($ 3) and Agenda Calendar ($ 1) are both great options if your main draw is a minimalist aesthetic. That’s not to say they aren’t great—they both have simple, intuitive interfaces that allow you to quickly navigate around all your events. That said, they’re not designed to be the feature-rich behemoths mentioned above. If you don’t need much more than the built-in calendar app provides but would prefer a better interface with additional views and some extra features, both of these apps are completely serviceable and nice to look at.
Finally, it’s just worth mentioning the UNIQLO Calendar (Free) purely for its uniqueness. It costs nothing, syncs with Google Calendar, is very attractive, and plays tilt-shift videos while you navigate. It may not be the most practical option, but it is free and a lot of fun.
Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.