Your digital calendar, whether you’re using Google Calendar, Outlook or iCloud, works fine. It tracks your events and sends helpful notifications to your desktop or mobile device that make sure you show up for things. It does the job. We get that. But you can do better.
Beyond the basics lie some great apps that not only ensure you remember your appointments but also help you to take the next logical step, whether that's getting there, finding a nearby place to have lunch or sending a Birthday greeting.
Best Business and Personal App for Android: Cal
This attractive app pulls information from the vanilla calendar app you’re already using, bringing information about where you need to go and what you need to do to the forefront of your mobile device. Much of the time, you can interact with Cal without even having to go into the app via a widget you can assign to one of your home screens that lets you see your schedule for the day at a glance.
You can also perform actions right from the notification drawer, which I found to be a stellar feature. For example, along with a reminder notification about an event, Cal gives you the opportunity to tap to invite people via email or use a new feature called HeadsUp! that lets you take a photo or video of something happening in a meeting, record an audio memo, set your phone to vibrate or mute, add a task or send an email summary of the event.
Cal also helps you prevent meetings from dragging on via a little timer that shows up on any open screen on your device, counting down to when the event is supposed to end. Once the window for an event closes, Cal not only chirps to nudge you to end the activity but also sends another actionable notification you can tap to set a follow-up meeting, email someone a summary of a meeting’s outcomes or add action items with Any.do.
About that: Cal was developed by the makers of Any.do, and if you don’t use the to-do list app yet, you will once you see how much sense it makes to mesh your calendar with things you need to get done. Anyone who’s truly organized knows it’s not enough to just chalk up to-dos —productivity pros make errands and chores time-sensitive.
Other Cal features include integration with Google Maps that lets you attach navigation to an event and receive suggestions for places to meet. In certain large metropolitan areas, Cal can help you get to a meeting by connecting you to ride-sharing app Uber.
Price: Free at Google Play
Best Calendar App for iOS: Sunrise
While Cal is fantastic on Android, your iPhone won't work to access Cal merely by tapping on notifications. And Cal doesn’t have an iPad app, which may be a deal-killer for some people.
For iOS users, I recommend Sunrise. Sunrise is an easy-to-use calendar that looks great on both the iPhone and iPad. Its monthly view is particularly nice on an iPad, as well as a weekly view that makes it easy to grasp what hours of the day you have booked or open.
Sunrise syncs with Google Calendar and iCloud in real time and includes plenty of useful features such as time zone support that adjusts appointment times when you’re traveling and weather forecasts based on your location.
The thing I appreciate the most about Sunrise is how it integrates with other apps to round out its functionality: Facebook for knowing when your friends are having events or celebrating birthdays, LinkedIn and Twitter to see faces, profiles and tweets of people you’re meeting with, Foursquare to log places you’ve checked in and Producteev, a task management tool for teams.
Price: Free at iTunes
Best Family Calendar App: Cozi
While you can certainly include family events on Cal and Sunrise, Cozi is specifically designed to help families know who needs to be where by when, what items are needed from the store, who’s been tasked with chores or to-dos and much more. To use it, each family member only needs to log in to the family Cozi account from an Android or iOS device or via the web (an alternative people who sit in front of a computer all day will especially appreciate).
The premium version of Cozi removes ads, includes a shared address book everyone in the family can access and provides a birthday tracker, more than one reminder for appointments, a month-at-a-glance view and the ability to alert family members when schedule changes are made.