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Mobile App Review: Calendar Apps, Part 2 - Android
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Mobile App Review: Calendar Apps, Part 2 - Android - Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Calendar Apps, Part 2 - Android

Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Calendar Apps, Part 2 - Android

In part 1 of our review of calendar apps, we focused on iOS apps that go above and beyond both default, on-board apps and the apps that come as part of work-related and system-related platforms, such as MS Office’s Outlook, Google’s Calendar, and Apple’s Calendar. It’s important to underscore the excellent functionality of these apps; most of what we really want in a calendar can be found in each of these three examples, and any other app feels lacking if it’s missing some function that we now take for granted because MS, Google, and Apple have worked so hard to define the genre. In fact, for sheer functionality alone, it’s difficult to improve on any of these apps, and you probably aren’t missing out on very much if you stick with whatever you’re already using.

However, what makes today’s new mobile technology great is the opportunity it provides for exploration and experimentation. For all Outlook’s functional excellence and ease of use, it’s neither very pretty nor very fun, and our devices, at their best, should be fun and useful. We’re not suggesting you ditch whatever you’re already using for the apps review here. Rather, consider taking these others for test drives, and see if they don’t add a little bit of extra pleasure and practicality to your busy, busy life.

If you’re looking for a deep-dive on calendar apps but aren’t ready for the far end of the pool, two apps get mentioned above all others: aCalendar and Business Calendar. Each has an excellent free version with in-app purchases and premium versions for no ads and extra functionality. If you’re already signed in on your device to your Google account—which you almost surely are, since you just downloaded the app from the Google Play store—when you open either of these, it will open with your Google calendars already populated, a nice little surprise. Business Calendar displays different colored tabs at the bottom of the display, so clicking through your different calendars is extremely easy. aCalendar’s default view shows the month’s calendar in the lower right corner, with larger day squares for the current week taking up the rest of the space.

Navigating either aCalendar or Business Calendar takes a little bit of practice, as each has its own way of doing things, but they both come with excellent guides. At about $5 each, once you’re ready to make the switch, the premium purchases are a great deal. You can also purchase additional content, such as integrated holiday calendars or the schedules of your favorite football teams. Of these two, we give Business Calendar a slight edge for ease of use and aCalendar the edge on aesthetics. You really can’t go wrong with either, so we suggest trying each for about a month at a time before making your decision.

Although both aCalendar and Business Calendar are excellent, they still have a strictly-business look and feel about them. For users who like a little bit of flair and extra customization, we recommend taking a look at Jorte and Cute Calendar. Jorte gets a lot of press and seems to be somewhat polarizing, but we love the color and font options: we selected “strawberry milk” for our color and a simple handwriting font called Junction, then customized our calendar view to have rounded corners for days with special events. Then we populated it with several free add-ons: the Oakland Raiders’ schedule, national U.S. holidays, and Amazon’s top 10 MP3 album purchases in a widget space at the bottom of the screen. Jorte syncs with Google Calendar and the paid plans include integration with Office 365. Jorte is almost addictively fun to use. Some of the paid themes really boost the cute factor, but you get a fair dose of cuteness with the free version, if you’re willing to play around with it.

Jorte’s huge downside is that its paid plans are subscription-based, at $3 per month, $4 per year, and an interesting $2 per month for access on multiple devices, extra cloud storage, and all the stickers and calendar themes, with none of the other paid features. This puts us in the strange position of preferring the free version of Jorte over the free versions of aCalendar and Business Calendar, but the paid versions of aCalendar and Business Calendar over the paid version of Jorte.

You’re not going to find Cute Calendar on very many best-of lists, but this is our favorite discovery of the under-the-radar Android offerings. However, there seems to be a bit of a language barrier here, so users who lack the patience to wade through a few confusing, unlabeled buttons and such hints as “The sound can be changed by Alarm of Buttons of the calendar window” may wish to stick with Jorte’s cute themes. There are two free versions—Cute Calendar Free and Cute Calendar Family Free—and apparently one paid version—Cute Calendar Family, at $2. But don’t hold us to that, as the descriptions in the Play store are extremely confusing. We’ve figured out how to set alerts, but darn it if we can make those alerts actually make some kind of sound or give some other kind of noticeable notification. We were tempted to give up entirely for this low ease-of-use score, but something about it just keeps drawing us back. Sometimes you like something just because you do, and Cute Calendar is hitting all the right notes with us even though we can’t read those notes! Be cautioned that there are other apps called Cute Calendar, so make sure you’re getting what you want before you download.

While exploring calendar apps for Apple and Android devices, we found many lesser-known products on the backs of shelves, further down the aisle. Some of them—like Cute Calendar—were worth a little bit of experimenting. Since there can be a lot of hidden treasure in the darker corners of the app stores, we’ll be taking a look at some of our discoveries in a future review. Until then, get to know the apps we’ve discussed here. You may find something that makes your daily planning sessions more than just routine, but a joy as well.

 

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Mobile App Review: Calendar Apps, Part 2 - Android - Executive Leadership Articles

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