Fantastical 2.2 for OS X review: More maturity and integration with Exchange

A major update to Fantastical 2 refines rough edges, extends invitations, adds features like printing, and improves time-zone management.

At a Glance
  • Flexibits Fantastical 2.2

    Macworld Rating
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A change introduced in the last version continues to be useful months later. By interleaving reminders into graphical calendar views, instead of making them a separate display kind of thing, reminders fit much better in my workflow. While timed or untimed events that can be marked as completed are distinctly different from appointments at a given time for a specified duration, it’s incredibly useful to see reminds and appointments in one place.

Being able to disable that interleaving is nice as well for those who prefer to keep reminders and appointments separate (Preferences > Appearance, and uncheck Show Reminders in Day, Week, and Month). Reminders can have no priority or three levels—low, medium, and high—and be sorted by priority and due date, due date, or title. You can swap between viewing a list at the far left of events (including interleaved reminders) or just reminders, with Command-R or an icon click at lower left.

fantastical 2 1 better overlap

Since version 2.1, Fantastical displays simultaneous events more clearly if you reduce the type size.

The previous updated added an option to help with event overlaps—View > Make Text Bigger/Smaller—which allows a good tradeoff between size, overlap, and legibility.

Two rough spots remain. For a program that has a lot of synchronization options for calendars, it lacks one important one: you can’t sync account information or other settings, like Calendar Sets, between multiple computers running Fantastical (I have two), or shared feature settings between iOS and OS X. This means setting up Fantastical from scratch on each device and, when a change occurs, managing it on each device as well. The company opted to not use iCloud for syncing, as it offers the software in the Mac App Store and directly as well, but there are many other sync options for these kinds of configuration details.

The other is price. At $50, it’s a hard sell for any but the most dedicated Calendar haters or who have the right integration in a work environment that Fantastical can replace Microsoft, Apple, or other software. I don’t dislike Calendar, so much as find myself stymied by it. Having Fantastical on my iPhone led me to expect it on my Macs, too, and I gladly paid the price.

Bottom line

Fantastical’s overt simplicity and hidden depths may not be for everyone. But the company made distinct choices based on years of developing its iOS version and previous OS X release. Making design choices instead of throwing everything into the mix produces both good software and sharp contrasts—it’s less likely to be for everyone, but more likely to serve quite well those who find the choices appealing.

If you find Fantastical’s event-list centric approach—in which upcoming events can intermingle with reminders but remain distinct—matches the way you want to manage your calendar, and the natural-language entry an appealing way to avoid adding events, it’s the right program to pick.

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Fantastical isn’t for everyone, but this 2.2 version continues the app’s maturity by adding Exchange support and making the interface even more robust and sophisticated.

    Pros

    • Natural language event entry
    • Crisp view of events for the day and beyond
    • Location-based calendar set context
    • Optionally interleaves timed reminders with appointments
    • Robust printing options

    Cons

    • Lack of settings sync between computers and between OS X and iOS
    • Relatively high price for consumers, though reasonable for business
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