Second Gear’s Today is iCal’s Little Helper

| In-Depth Review

Today is a light weight, tidy Mac OS X app that extracts iCal calendar events and tasks and places them in a small, time ordered window. It's a summary screen that can be launched at login, so that iCal doesn't have to be running, and new events and tasks can conveniently be entered into Today and automatically synced back to iCal.

This app is especially handy for those on the move and don't have a lot of screen real estate to work with on a notebook display. One can just pop open a sleeping MacBook and see at a glance what the next event is.

Here's a screen shot of some iCal data from today and the corresponding look in Today.

Today window

iCal event column translates to Today's Window

Note that calendar items take on the color defined by calendars in iCal, for example, green for personal and red for work. It's easy, in the preferences, to just check or uncheck a box for the calendars one wants to reveal or suppress.

Operation

Today allows the user to create new events and tasks for a desired calendar under the File menu or with one of the icons at the bottom of the window. Here's a screen shot.

Today - New event

Entering a New Event

There are no up/down buttons to select the day, month year, and so on. Instead, the user just starts typing in the date. There's a pretty good parser so that if the user enters:

apr 13, 2029 6 am

The parser can figure it out and expand to:

April 13, 2029 6:00 AM

Spinning dials can be a little tedious to manipulate with the mouse or trackpad, and so it's easy to understand the UI choice for simply typing a shortened version. Unfortunately, because the app is simple simple and elegant, sans manual, a new user could be put off by the date-time field that suggests the requirement for an exact entry, when, in fact, the parser is pretty good. And if the parser can't recognize the entry, it just defaults to today.

Double clicking any entry in Today launches iCal with the item Window open and ready to edit the entry in iCal. Changes are immediately reflected in Today.

Arrows at the top of Today's window allow the user to jump forward and back in time. To instantly leap back to today, just click on the black area at the top.

iCal tasks are handled in the same way. In the Today prefs, one can dictate which tasks are displayed based on due date and include or exclude tasks that have no due date.

Today can be set to launch at login, have a menu bar icon, and the transparency of the window can be adjusted.

 

Today - Prefs

Today's General Preferences

Today's Philosophy

The app is intended to be simple, reliable and convenient. It's so simple that no manual is really needed nor supplied, and its operation is intuitive. There is menu function, help, but it doesn't go into depth, for example how to do voice input, new in version 1.6.

The design decision regarding abbreviated entries of text data for an event time reflects an understanding that fine movements of the cursor on a notebook trackpad are harder than simply typing. The date parser takes care of the rest.

Potential customers will need to decide if the convenience of the app is worth the asking price of $15. There is a 10 day free trial of the app so that one can make that evaluation.

Today 1.6 requires Mac OS X 10.5.5 and is a Universal Application. A screencast on the Second Gear home page introduces the potential customer to the basics. The software is simple, straightforward, does what's expected, and doesn't dazzle or do anything amazing. Some details of the operation could be better documented. On the other hand, it can fulfill a specific need in an elegant and charming way. As a result, the rating is 4 out of 5.

Product: Today

Company: Second Gear Software

List Price: US$15.00

Pros:

Simple, elegant, clean design.  Provides iCal info at a glance and fully syncs with iCal both ways. Easy install. 

Cons:

Some additional documentation needed in specific areas, especially event entry options.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

No Comments

Log-in to comment