Flexibits released Fantastical 2.3 for the iPhone with support for Apple Watch on Wednesday, and Apple could take some cues from their efforts. The update brings the Calendar alternative to your wrist, complete with schedule views, notifications for upcoming events, and a Glance view that shows a quick overview of your day. Fantastical also plugs a glaring Apple Watch hole: it shows your iPhone Reminders.
Fantastical 2, now for Apple Watch
Fantastical 2 has a look that fits better with Apple Watch than Apple's own Calendar app, and it's easy to see what you have on your schedule thanks to its event and task color coding. Those colors come from the calendars you assign to events and tasks on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad, and they pop on the black background in the Apple Watch app. I can tell with a quick look what's on my schedule without reading just by seeing event colors. It's perfect for the quick looks on a watch as opposed to the longer views I use on my iPhone or Mac.
Fantastical on Apple Watch isn't just an event and task viewer; it also lets you add to your schedule and reminders. Instead of forcing you to use an insanely small interface for entering events and reminders, Fantastical 2 relies on voice dictation. Just tell Fantastical what you want, and it creates the event or task.
To add a new event or task in the Fantastical app, firmly press on the display, then start talking. It's natural language parser does a surprisingly good job of figuring out context and creating just what you want. The interface is a little limited compared to the iPhone, but you can get what you need into the app easily, and Fantastical supports Handoff so you can start on your watch and finish on your Mac.
Just like its iPhone counterpart, you can view an inline map for events. Even better, you can tap a map to get directions. Fantastical sends you over to Apple's on-watch Maps app for turn-by-turn directions. It's slick, and makes Fantastical 2 seem more like a native Apple Watch app than Calendars.
It's clear the Flexibits team seriously thought about how to make the move to Apple Watch's small screen. Instead of trying to cram everything onto your watch, they chose to show what you need in a way that makes sense. That's especially clear in the app's Glance view.
Fantastical's Glance on Apple Watch
I shut off Apple's Calendar Glance right away because it was pretty much useless for me, but Fantastical's Glance nails it. You can see a 12-hour chart showing your scheduled time blocks, your next appointment, and with a tap you can see more details.
With Apple offering its own Calendar app and Glance for Apple Watch, why spend money on Fantastical 2? It's all about the interface. Calendar does have a month view you don't get with Fantastical, but a clean schedule and task view along with easy event and to-do entry makes the app far more useful than Apple's offering.
Fantastical's Apple Watch Reminders view
Since Fantastical taps into the same databases as Apple's Calendar and Reminders apps, you don't have to give those up. Even if you live in Calendar on your Mac and iPhone, you can still install Fantastical just to get its superior Apple Watch Glance view along with a real reminders list.
The Flexibits team chose to wait until Apple Watch was available before building their app, and it was worth the wait. In the month since Apple Watch shipped, they were able to see what works and what doesn't, figure out what people really need from a watch-based calendar and task app, and then put the pieces together into an experience that beats Apple's own Calendar hands-down.
If you're already a Fantastical 2 user, the update is free. If not, it's a US$4.99 download from Apple's App Store.