For many smartphone users, calendar apps are a vital tool for staying organised and remembering where and when they’re supposed to be at all times.
Owners of the iPhone in particular have two standout solutions available to them: Apple’s built-in calendar app, which can back up your events to Apple’s iCloud service, and Google Calendar, powered by the search giant’s formidable artificial intelligence.
I put the Apple and Google calendar apps head-to-head and found that Google’s software is the clear winner for anyone looking to stay organised and keep track of their schedule efficiently.
Check it out:
EASE OF ACCESS
Both Apple’s calendar and Google Calendar offer the convenience factor, because they come free with other accounts and devices you probably already use.
If you use Gmail, Google Drive, or any other G Suite services, you already have access to Google Calendar through any web browser. For more mobile-minded folks, there is a free Google Calendar app for both Android and iOS devices.
Sadly, there isn’t a Google Calendar app for Mac OS computers or Windows 10.
Apple’s calendar app comes preinstalled on all iPhones, iPads, Mac computers, and other Apple OS-powered devices. It can also be accessed from a web browser on any device through your iCloud account.
As expected, you won’t find Apple’s calendar app for any Android or Windows devices.
EASE OF USE
In my humble opinion, a calendar app, more than anything, needs to be easy to use.
Most of the time, when I open up my virtual calendar, I’m in the middle of making plans with friends or trying to find time for an important call, and the last thing I want is to take more than a few seconds to see my schedule or add a new event.
Google Calendar’s colourful, spaced-out style makes even a particularly packed schedule look tidy and organised across every page of the mobile app.
The “schedule view” makes this especially easy by displaying all my upcoming events in one long, visually appealing list that’s organised by date.
Google Calendar also automatically decorates my events with these stock images based on their titles.
Apple’s calendar app, on the other hand, feels much less intuitive and approachable.
The designers were clearly opting for efficiency over style, which I can respect, except the trade-off did not include the ease of use that so many Apple products are known for.
The calendar events shown above are much sparser than my typical weekly schedule, but Apple’s preference for small, faint text and minimal colour makes it feel very chaotic.
In the past, the blandness of this view has actually caused me to overlook things or double-book myself because I simply missed an event that didn’t catch my eye.
Google Calendar works seamlessly alongside my other Google apps, like Gmail and Hangouts.
For example, when you get an email about a specific event or appointment – such as a flight, a concert, or a dinner reservation – Google’s tech can scan that information and automatically add it as an event on your calendar.
Google Calendar is also very commonly integrated with third-party tools – particularly ones meant for the workplace, like Slack, Salesforce, and Trello.
And while Apple’s calendar communicates well with the other apps within the iCloud umbrella and Apple ecosystem, it isn’t quite the universal solution that Google Calendar has become synonymous with.
For example, the iCloud calendar can also scan your iMessages and emails for appointments, but it does not put an event on your calendar automatically. Instead, it highlights a section of text that might be useful for a calendar event and asks you what to do next.
And since Google apps are so frequently used in offices throughout the country, you’ll find that third-party integrations with the iCloud’s calendar are less common.
EVENT AND CALENDAR SHARING
Google Calendar is a leader in workplace calendar management, largely because of its sharing features.
You can invite coworkers, friends, or family to any event by simply attaching their email address to the “guests” bar, highlighted above. If they also happen to use Google Calendar, accepting the invite will cause your event to populate on their calendar as well.
The service also allows users to invite anyone – even those without a G Suite account – to view or edit entire calendars, as well as create shared calendars that multiple people can view and edit from their devices.
For example, I have a shared calendar that my significant other and I can both view and add events to. This way, we can more efficiently keep track of our plans together.
Similarly, Business Insider has an internal calendar that any employee can use to see when their coworkers will be out of the office or to add their own vacation time. The same system works for both small groups and massive companies.
Meanwhile, Apple’s Calendar app doesn’t let you invite anyone to an event whose email isn’t already saved to your contacts.
In the example above, I tried to invite my coworker Katie Canales to a local happy hour this Friday.
Though Apple’s calendar app recognised her email address from my Inbox app, I still couldn’t send her an invite because I hadn’t manually added her email address to my contacts list.
Syncing your Gmail contacts to your iCloud contacts could solve this problem, but if you’re like me and prefer to keep your work and personal lists separate, there isn’t a great solution here.
Perhaps if you have no interest in sharing your schedule with friends or colleagues and prefer to keep your plans to yourself, this lack of connectivity won’t be an issue. I’ve found that my online calendar is a great way to communicate and keep track of plans with others, so I rely on being able to share events with the other people involved.
Both Apple’s and Google’s service offers an array of choices for alerting you when an event on your calendar is coming up, including in the form of an email or a push notification, or neither.
For Google, this also includes allowing users to set default notifications that will apply to every event you put on a particular calendar. This way, if you want to receive a push notification 10 minutes before every meeting on your work calendar, you can change the default setting once, and all your future events will automatically send the correct notification.
Google Calendar makes it easy to set defaults for each of my calendars, so I rarely have to worry about being reminded when events are coming up.
Apple’s calendar app offers many of the same notification options but doesn’t give the user nearly as much power to customise their default settings across separate calendars — meaning I often have to set my notification preferences for each individual event, which can be tedious and time-consuming.
However, Apple’s “time to leave” alert is unique to its service and can be extremely helpful for those of us who are too busy to remember to think so far ahead.
The feature, which Google’s service does not offer, will automatically let you know how heavy the traffic is on the route to your next event and will advise you about how early you should leave.
However, the alert is practically useless for a person like myself who takes the bus everywhere or whose travel time won’t be affected by street traffic.
Google’s platform lets users set preferences for nearly every feature of the software within the software itself, like tweaking the colours and density of the view, enabling or disabling certain features, and adjusting settings like the time zone and privacy.
And while Apple offers some opportunities for customising the app, the options are far more limited and much more difficult to get to.
Because Apple’s calendar settings are managed through the Settings app on iOS, customising the app can be confusing or taxing for those who are, shall we say, less than tech-savvy.
The drawback of Google’s free service and seamless multi-app integrations is that the same tech Google uses to scan your emails for calendar events will undoubtedly collect and store your personal data.
It’s similar to what Google does with Gmail. Google executives aren’t snooping through your personal schedule for fun – it’s more that Google’s algorithms look for patterns in what you do and where you spend time so it can feed those back into the search giant’s overall picture of you and your habits.
If data security is a deal breaker, iCloud’s calendar may be the way to go. Apple’s end-to-end encryption promises the most secure experience available.
Apple has always championed user privacy in its software and device design, and it says it does not gather any personal data from your calendar.
THE VERDICT: Google clearly has Apple beat when it comes to calendar apps.
The Google Calendar platform is more versatile, easier to use, and more customisable, making it the better option for both casual, non-tech-savvy users and the busiest organisation enthusiasts alike.
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