There are two things that make a calendar the right calendar for you, whether you’re considering a paper-based calendar or a digital one: function and aesthetics.
Every calendar will display one or more dates. But that’s about the only essential feature. Other features to consider include:
- how many dates are displayed (day, week, month, year at a time)
- whether the calendar view is fixed or can be changed
- how easy it is to record and update appointments
- how appointments are displayed
- how recurring events are handled
- how much space for additional notes is available
The aesthetics of productivity tools are really important, because a tool that you really like is one that you’ll enjoy using, and probably use more. Of course, design features are always a matter of subjective perception. Luckily, calendars come in all kinds of sizes, shapes, and flavors, ranging from super-cute to techno-minimalist. Aesthetic features to consider include:
- size, color, and typeface of date numerals
- size and shape of date boxes
- ability to color-code or otherwise visually distinguish events
- overall look and feel
New Look for Google Calendar
I’ve been using digital calendars for many years. I particularly appreciate the ability to set recurring events and reminders, which required a lot of extra effort back when I used a paper-based planner. After having been a devoted Palm user since the first PalmPilot device, I moved to Google Calendar and eventually an Android smartphone to replace my now long-dead Palm T|X.
I’m mostly satisfied with Google Calendar -- the ease of synchronization across devices and the different views are especially useful. I was very pleased with May’s introduction of color-coding for events, which allows me far greater flexibility than having to maintain separate calendars for different categories of events.
Then at the end of June, Google began rolling out a new design for Google calendar, which hit my machine on 6/30 around 1pm. So far, the changes are just aesthetic, according to the Google support site. Once it rolls out to your Google account, you can toggle between the “classic” look and the new one.
To my eyes, the new design is much less cluttered, more spacious, and more legible. Gone are the fussy rounded corners on event bars. All the left pane information is minimized by default. I like it.
Calendars for Android
I haven’t yet seen any design changes to the Android version of Google calendar that runs on my phone, and haven’t found any information that clearly specifies what might be coming up in the near future. Google says only:
Over the course of the summer and fall, we’ll make more changes to the look and functionality of Google Calendar. You’ll see these changes in your account in a variety of products, and we’ll make sure to keep you updated as we introduce these changes.
The Google Calendar interface for Android is fairly limited and doesn’t display enough information in the month view to be useful for me. Luckily, however, there are many calendar apps available in the Android market:
Although I tried out some other calendar apps, this is the one that quickly became a must-have on my phone. It’s not as glitzy as some, but it is customizable and easy to read and use. (NB: in Calendar Pad, like most of these apps, you can select which day begins the week, depending on your preference.)
Each of these and other calendar apps and widgets offer functions and aesthetics that will appeal to different users. If you’re a smartphone user, it’s worth experimenting to find the one that suits you best.
What do you think of the new Google calendar? Do you use an Android calendar app? Let us know in the comments!