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Tool Review: Fantastical 2

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Flexibits nearly won my heart for Fantastical 2 by providing a 2 week free trial. And that’s got nothing to do with my sordid past as a tech blogger; everyone enjoys the chance to give the calendar app a try. Companies showing enough confidence in their product to provide free trials are so rare these days that I nearly bought Fantastical 2 based on that fact alone.

But I’m still not sure.

Here’s the gig. With a full-time job and writing and a super active toddler and a special needs infant and trying to lose weight and maybe somewhere along the line see this Daredevil everyone’s talking about — oh, yeah, and that marriage thing — my daily schedule is a touch complex. There’s a feeding on every hour divisble by three, and that takes about an hour. Usually an unskippable appointment or two during the day, an occasional conference call, and somewhere along the line, I’m trying really hard to make it to the gym.

So schedule and task juggling is pretty important to me. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about productivity apps, and it won’t be the last.

I jumped up and down with excitement to try out Fantastical 2. After the trial period, though, I’m having trouble plunking down nearly $40 for it.

The calendar features are neat, but they don’t bring much new to the table. You can create calendar appointments using “natural language,” but it’s not like I’ve ever found creating calendar appointments difficult in the first place. That wasn’t a problem I needed to solve; who can’t figure out who to create a meeting in Apple’s native Calendar app?

And, sure, Fantastical can juggle multiple calendars… but again, that’s something Calendar can do just fine. The ability to toggle a set of calendars by location sounds neat, but I haven’t been able to brainstorm a use case for it yet. If I’m out of pocket, I’m out of pocket — being at home, at the hospital, or at the office doesn’t make much difference.

But the big benefit of Fantastical, to me, would be the unified calendar/Reminder interface. If you schedule a due date for your Reminder, then it gets tucked into a list version of your day’s appointments. That’s pretty cool, and nearly worth switching apps.

But (and there’s always a but) I see a few problems. First, I use Todoist. I used to be a Remember the Milk guy — and I still appreciate the work they do — but I find myself preferring desktop apps to web apps. I don’t know, maybe it’s the old fogey in me.

Fantastical’s integration with Apple’s Reminders is powerful and elegant. Not so much with Todoist. You can copy and paste a CalDav URL from Todoist into Fantastical to see your To Do items… and that’s keen. But the scheduling doesn’t work quite as smoothly (they tend to be labeled all day events regardless of a time) and you can’t check Complete inside Fantastical.

Admittedly, the power of Todoist comes from full access to its app (notes, files, etc.), not from simply scheduling things. Philosophically, do I really need those Todoist items in Fantastical?

Maybe not, but then what’s the point in using Fantastical instead of Calendar?

And then there’s this issue, which is a subtle and nuance issue. Print schedules. Damned if I know how to print from Fantastical. I like to print my daily itinerary and review it in the morning, getting a sense of my day. Fantastical seems to lack that.

So I like a lot about Fantastical 2. But to use it to its full potential, I need to use Reminders instead of Todoist. And then I “give up” my print itinerary.

I have a few days left, but at a price point of $40, I don’t think the switch will be worth it for me, personally. Your mileage may vary, though.

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