Customizable calendar

The best apps for your calendar and schedule on iPhone and iPad


AppleInsider is supported by its audience and is eligible to earn an Amazon Associate and Affiliate Partner commission on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content.

You already have Apple’s own Calendar app, but if it was perfect, there wouldn’t be these great alternatives. Here’s how to manage your events and appointments quickly, efficiently and accurately.

Let’s not rush Apple Calendar. It’s capable, powerful, reliable – and it’s also the engine behind each of the alternatives worth looking into.

Each of these, and pretty much every other iOS calendar app you can find, uses the same data as Apple’s calendar. Trust us, we’ve tested half a dozen at the same time and it’s great how putting an event in one calendar app means it’s instantly available to everyone.

You might not be likely to try multiple apps simultaneously, but that same iOS feature means switching from one calendar app to another is instantaneous. So you can try any of the following recommendations without worrying about, say, exporting your events from one and importing from the other.

There is, however, the other side of this same question. If each calendar application uses the same database as Apple Calendar, it must use it as Apple has decided. They can’t introduce drastic changes to the calendar file format, they can’t really do much to your actual event data.

But what they can do is drastically improve the speed and quality with which you can add events and search for existing ones. They can be much better at also managing multiple calendars such as Google Calendar or Outlook.

Apple Calendar

Even though we just said there are alternatives, and you’re about to read the top three, there’s really a lot to like about the free Calendar app that Apple includes in iOS. It’s very clear and clean, it’s well designed to be readable with a lot of information on a smaller iPhone screen.

This is the only calendar that doesn’t also include a to-do or to-do app, but this is a case of Apple doing it right and the competition trying to differentiate themselves. To Do tasks belong to a To Do application because they are not events. Maybe you have to pay your credit card by the 5th of every month, but you don’t have to pay it on the 4th between 09:00 and 09:30.

So, Apple Calendar’s lack of To Do functionality isn’t a downside, it’s a boon to making the app clean and simple. Additionally, Apple also provides the separate Reminders app.

Apple Calendar is free on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS.

Fantastic

Fantastic

Fantastic

All our joys are only fantastic. It’s definitely the third-party calendar app to beat, although it did help its rivals when it switched to a subscription model.

Fantastical was the first to introduce natural language analysis, the way you can just type “Lunch with Burt in two weeks from Tuesday.” Now, pretty much every calendar app does, including Apple’s, but Fantastical’s is still the best at it.

This is partly because it is the only one that performs this analysis visually. When you type “Lunch”, you also see that a time has been blocked on your calendar for today for one hour from noon. When you then type “Burt”, it offers you all the Burts in your contact list.

Then when you type “two weeks”, the color block changes from today to the date in two weeks. And finally, when you type “starting Tuesday”, the block again jumps to the right place.

This means you tell Fantastical what you want the same way you would tell a friend, in fact Burt himself. But also because it’s also done visually, you see much more immediately if there has been any error.

Fantastical is available for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. It is sold as a subscription, starting at $3.33 per month. Note that this subscription also gives you Cardhop, a particularly powerful contacts application.

BusyCal

BusyCal

BusyCal

If there are two heavy calendar apps, then Fantastical is one, but BusyCal is the other. With a history dating back, in various guises, to the 1990s or even earlier, BusyCal is an extremely powerful calendar app.

Unlike Fantastical, it’s also a one-time purchase. It’s pretty cheap, at $4.99, and it’s not a subscription. If you like it, you’ll probably also want the Mac version of BusyCal, and it’s $49.99.

Attention, it is only on Mac that BusyCal is behind Fantastical. On this device, both apps have mini-calendars that you can have in your menu bar, but only Fantastical has the full functionality of the main app.

On iPhone, BusyCal scores points because it includes a List view. Apart from the regular month, week, and day views, BusyCal can simply display your upcoming events in a list.

It’s especially crisp and clear, and useful on the small screen of an iPhone compared to a Mac or iPad.

Calendars 5

Calendars 5

Calendars 5

Also known as “Calendars by Readdle”, this is an app that is meant to be the way you plan your weeks and months. Along the way, it expects it to be your To Do app as well, and the calendar view shows both events and tasks.

This can be handy if you have very few tasks, or if they really need to be done on Tuesdays. That’s still weak compared to dedicated task apps like OmniFocus and Things, but it’s on par with Apple’s own reminders.

Where Calendars 5 shines on iPhone is in the way it displays the week view. More than the month or any other view, Week displays each appointment as a colored square that makes it look like you’ve turned Tetris sideways.

If you have an appointment on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. and nothing else until, say, 4:00 p.m., then the Week view will show Wednesday as having two color blocks side by side. You don’t need to scroll to see the late afternoon one, it’s displayed as if the two events are immediately following each other.

But it’s also clear that they don’t, because they each include their time in the block.

The result is that at first glance you can get an instant impression of how busy any given day is this week, and at second glance you get the detail of any event if you need it. .