Thursday, March 05, 2009

Calendars. How important are they to you?

There's an interesting mini-thread over at PDA247 at the moment on the History of Mobile Calendars. Now you wouldn't have thought that would be a very captivating subject, but for some, and to an extent I include myself, it is.

My interest is borne from the fact that my calendar on my smartphone is one of the most used apps, and certainly one of the most important. My phone is with me nearly all the time, and therefore, so is my calendar/diary (call it what you will). It house all my personal, social and work appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, private appointments (of which more later), reminders (because there's not a decent task manager on the iPhone) and so on. Frankly I'd be lost without it.

But as the PDA247 article discusses, not all calendars are equal. Some, like the generally well received Palm app are great. Intuitive to use, full of (most) of the functionality that the majority of people need, and therefore very useful.

Some, like the iPhone app, are more eye candy than functional. yes, it's got some good bits, such as, erm, ah, oh yes, days and months. But it's annoyingly fiddly to eneter a new appointment, you can't mark an appointment as private direct from the app, and the calender app itself can't be accessed by other apps or developed due to the restrictions in Apple's SDK. There are rumours that this might change (and about time too) with the next iteration of the iPhone, but don't hold your breath.

Windows Mobile's default app isn't as good as Palm's (in my opinion) but it's way better than the iPhone's. It still remains fiddly to enter, and view appointments with far too many keyclicks for my liking.

I have no real expierence of Symbian apps, and none whatsoever of RIM's BlackBerry app. The PDA247 article suggests that BlackBerry's is pretty decent, but one of the commenter's is not so impressed.

There other solutions of course. Datebook (for Palm), Pocket Informant (WM) and Agendus (Pal, WM & Symbian) are all applications by developers who think they can provide a better offering than the default offerings on handsets, and there are many more. In these cases the level of functionality in these offerings usually far outweighs the default app functionality, and having tried some myslef, I've found them to anal for my liking. I just want something that works well, does what I need it to, and is simple to use. For me, the best example is the default Palm Calendar app.

Of course this, like most other mobile software areas is really an entirely subjective matter. For me, if something akin to the Palm app was available on the iPhone it'd be a killer app for me. But it's not, and I have to make do with a limited app functionality on an otherwise well rounded device. For the moment.....

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