Why iOS 10 Convinced Me to Ditch Fantastical for Apple Calendar

Apple didn’t mention much about Calendar during WWDC. In fact, it wasn’t until I read Federico Viticci’s iOS 10 review that I even noticed there were any changes at all. I’m glad I read his entire 30+ page review though because there were changes to Calendar, and one of them has been a game changer for me.

For several years now, Fantastical has been my calendar app of choice on both iOS and macOS. When I’m out and need to quickly add something to my calendar, Fantastical’s natural language support simply made it easier to add appointments. The last thing I want to do is spend 5 minutes fiddling with my phone to set up future dinner plans with someone instead of actually paying attention to the friend standing next to me. With Fantastical, I could just type “Dinner with Sam at Restaurant XYZ on Sunday at 2PM” and be done.

But with iOS, Apple has added event suggestions to Calendar. Now, if I’m at the dentist and need to set up my next appointment, even typing just “den” brings up a suggestion to create a “Dentist Appointment” event complete with location. I just need to pick the date and time. Easy. It’ll even add invitees, not that I normally invite people to go to the dentist with me…that’d be weird. The amount of time this feature allows me to save convinced me to switch back to Apple’s stock Calendar app and delete Fantastical from my phone almost instantly.

Using Apple’s own apps comes with a handful of additional benefits. For instance, I get notifications to remind me when it’s time to leave. And of course, I get a calendar icon that actually includes the date on my homescreen again.

 

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A Case for Using Facebook – Finding Cool Events

When I was little, my favorite phrase must have been “I’m bored.” I used it all the time. Now I can’t even remember the last time I was bored. I always seem to have something to do, but more often than not that something to do is pretty routine. Maybe I’m not bored, but doing the same things over and over can get pretty darn monotonous so finding new and interesting things to do is important.

Now I can’t take credit for this tip entirely. It actually came from Kendra Wright in episode 83 of the Productivity Show Podcast, where she shared her Facebook “hack”. The one reason I haven’t abandoned Facebook entirely is events, and it turns out, if you take some time up front, the events feed in Facebook can be an incredibly powerful tool for finding cool things to do. Thankfully, this tip actually requires very little interaction with Facebook after the initial set up. (Another bonus given that I’m trying to reduce my time on Facebook.)

So first things first, go to your Likes page and unlike anything you don’t actually like. If you’re like me, you’ll find quite a few things you don’t even remember liking (e.g. that group about how Nickelodeon shows of the 90s were awesome), and quite a few more that you only liked because you had to (e.g. giveaway entries). Whether this actually helps in this tip is debatable, but you’ll need to be in your likes section for the next step, so you might as well clear it out while you’re there.

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Go through your Likes page and subscribe to the events for your favorite places, bands, and brands. Not all of my likes had this option, but most did. Now any time your favorite restaurant, band or whatever, has an event nearby it’ll show up in your events feed along with a few other suggestions based on some Facebook algorithm. Chances are going through this process will remind you of a few other places you might want to follow too. If you’re interested in their events, follow them too. (Remember, you’re not actually committing to all these events. You’re just making a list of potential things to do.)

With your events feed pulling in a ton of cool things to do, you’re almost done with the Facebook part. The last step is to grab your events calendar feed from the Events page. It’s on the right hand side towards the bottom and looks like this:

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I use Google Calendar as the backend for all my calendaring needs, so I subscribed to it there, but you can use whatever calendaring app you want. Most should support it. Along with the Facebook Events Calendar, I also subscribed to calendars for my favorite sports teams. Just add them by clicking Browse Interesting Calendars. For added ambiance, I set the color of the calendar to match the team colors. (Note: these are read-only calendars. Information only syncs one way – to you. You cannot change events on these calendars.)

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Now if you use Google Calendar, you likely already know that calendars can be toggled on or off. Kendra’s workflow consists of toggling the Facebook calendar on to check for possible things to do when she does her weekly planning. When she find’s something, she copies the event to her own calendar. If you only use Google Calendar, you’re done here.

I manage my calendars through Fantastical, which lets you make “calendar sets,” to quickly toggle multiple calendars on or off. It’s the calendar sets that makes this tip even better for me. I set up a “Sports & Events” set that toggles off all calendars except for sports, birthdays, and Facebook events all at once.

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Like Kendra, if I’m planning or just trying to find something interesting to do, I just switch to the Sports & Events set. If something catches my eye, I can right click the event and select the “Duplicate” option to automatically add that event to my own calendar, bringing over any event info with it. Admittedly, my favorite part of this workflow is that one of my last remaining reasons to visit Facebook, finding events, is gone.

What’s on My iPhone 6 (December 2014 Edition)

It’s been over a year since I posted my first “What’s on my iPhone?” post, and that means I’m due for an update.

I still use the same general organization – frequently used apps on the first page with the last row empty, folders on the second. Moving to an iPhone 6 also gave me an additional row for apps on each screen.

I’m actually shocked to say that many of my “frequently used” apps from last year have lost their spots on my home screen. Calendar, Yahoo Weather, Things, and Fitbit have all been retired for other alternatives. Clock, Calculator, Camera+, and Light have all been replaced by swiping up to reveal the Control Center introduced with iOS 7. My dock however has remained the same.

Onto my new (and improved) home screen.

As you can see, Calendar has been replaced with Fantastical. Although I prefer how Apple’s Calendar icon shows the date, I prefer Fantastical’s quick entry and Today widget. Yahoo Weather has been replaced by the default Weather app (having stock apps replace third party apps doesn’t happen too often). Things has been replaced by Omnifocus (No surprise there.), and Fitbit has been replaced by Jawbone (after switching from the recalled Fitbit Force to the Jawbone Up24). The apps in this row are are the main apps I check throughout the day to know how my day’s going.

The next row of apps is entirely new. Day One, a journal app, is a recent addition (I recently switched from Momento.) Habit List tracks my daily routines. Waterlogged tracks my water intake, and Mint tracks my spending. In a general sense, these are my “tracking” apps that keep me on track.

The next row of apps is media-related. Keeping their places on the home screen are Reeder and Pocket. Downcast, my podcast app of choice, and iTV Shows, for tracking my favorite shows earn the 3rd and 4th spots.

The third row of apps is sort of a grab bag of miscellaneous apps that includes the only game on my phone, Threes, an app I can’t live without, 1Password, my favorite GPS app, Waze, and a folder of remote apps (Nest, Smart Glass for the Xbox One, Wemo, and Screens, a VNC client.

The final row includes the phone app, the App Store, and Settings.

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On the second page you’ll find a similar collection of folders before.

The Apple folder still exists but includes more apps now that Apple keeps forcing me to keep more of their apps on my phone. This is really just a folder to hide all their apps I don’t use.

The Files app contains a few different apps now, and truthfully Files isn’t much of a representative name anymore, but I haven’t found a better name. This folder holds Google Drive and Paprika (my absolutely favorite recipe manager), Blackboard Mobile Learn (for my classes). The other three apps, Scanbot (which I got for free), Momento, and Diptic, are likely on their way off my phone because I just don’t use them.

The health folder primarily contains guided meditation apps I’m trying out to help me fall asleep. If you have any suggestions, feel free to pass them along.

Media is a combination of my former Watch and Read folders and now contains Fliks for managing my Netflix DVD queue (Netflix if your listening, I’m still angry you removed that from your own app.), HBO Go, IMDb, Kindle, Netflix, SwagbucksTV for earning quick Swagbucks, SportsCenter for updates on my favorite teams, and WatchABC for streaming to my new Chromecast.

The next three folders could realistically be combined in some form, but I haven’t worked it out yet. My $ folder contains all my financial apps, and Save contains apps like Checkout51 and Ibotta. Shop contains Starbucks, Amazon, and cPro for Craigslist.

Social contains all my social media apps: Alien Blue for Reddit, ESPN’s Fantasy Football app, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, Paper by Facebook (this app lets me keep Messages and Facebook in one app rather than two), Tweetbot, and Yammer (for work notifications).

And last but not least, my Utilities folder which holds more miscellaneous apps: Deliveries (for tracking packages), Drafts, DUO Mobile (2-factor authentication), #Homescreen for posting to homescreen.is, IFTTT, Launch Center Pro, QRReader (on it’s way off my phone), Swype (a third party keyboard that makes up for how badly I type on my phone) and TextExpander.

I’m always curious about how people organize their home screens, and to my surprise I find a lot of people end up with similar set ups to mine – mainly the first page of actual apps with a second page of folders. Leaving an empty row at the bottom of the page is also common.

So how do you organize your home screen?

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