6 best calendar apps in 2021 compared

There’s nothing wrong with your default calendar app, necessarily. But a new crop of calendar apps do more than collate the days’ events into time blocks. New calendar tech integrates itself with your productivity goals around task management, team communication, and analytics. Rather than put you at the mercy of incoming calendar requests, the best apps put you in control of your calendar.

With increased productivity and control in mind, we’ve tried and tested a bunch of calendar apps to build a list of the top five based on operating system, job role needs, team dynamics, ease of use, and for good measure – aesthetics.

Best calendar app for iPhone: Vantage Calendar

https://vantageby44.com/

Vantage consistently comes up when looking at calendar apps that are not just available on iPhone but boast favorable feature-specific reviews. They continue to garner positive reviews in blog posts and on the App Store for a few reasons. The user interface feels custom and intuitive, delivering features that fit into your workflow. Edit, create, and delete from both the daily and monthly views. Customize each time entry with color schemes and stickers or make custom designs for task list covers.

A time blocking dream, you can drag and drop each task you create in your to-do list onto your calendar – giving you a deadline and a time to work on it. The most distinguishing feature may be the stack view, which offers an overarching look at the day and days ahead that you can unfurl with a tap to reveal each dedicated block of time. While it’s the best calendar app for iPhone, unfortunately it’s currently unavailable on Android. There’s no free plan – but the app works out to be less than $1 per month when you select the annual option for $9.99.

Best shared calendar app: Google Calendar

While it may not seem like there’s anything novel about a calendar app that’s been around since 2009, Google Calendar brings a familiarity and simplicity to the pool of calendars available. It’s the scope and reach of the app through these integrations that firmly plants Google Calendar as the best shared calendar app. Team members can collaborate from the single platform of Google Calendar – but still maintain their individual productivity flows by syncing their calendar with their preferred productivity and calendar apps.

With a team Gmail account (or standard Google account if you don’t use Gmail), users gain access to Google chat to communicate through text or video calls outside of sending event invites from the calendar app. Group chat can boost informal collaboration. Google calendar is the lean, clean platform with simple color-coding, layout, and design. The app is free and available on iOS, Android, or your local browser.

Best customizable calendar app: Calengoo Calendar

https://www.calengoo.com/desktop/

On the opposite end of the simplicity spectrum, there’s Calengoo. With reviews exclaiming the level of customization, this is the best calendar app for anyone who either knows exactly their productivity style or is still exploring what it means to manage their time. The best example of Calengoo’s customizability may be their reminder types. When you add an event or events come through from a synced calendar, you can choose to have SMS, pop-up, or email reminders notify you of an event.

Calengoo displays events with icons and allows for templates to quickly add events to your calendar. Calengoo also does a great job of going above and beyond being just a calendar with the ability to mark events as ‘complete.’ This allows you to put deadlines on individual tasks by adding them to your calendar before marking them complete. Calengoo is available on Android for $5.99 and iOS for $6.99. To use this app, you need a Google Calendar or you can use it with your iOS calendars.

Best calendar app Android: aCalendar

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?hl=en&id=org.withouthat.acalendar

aCalendar is only available on Android, but that’s not the reason it earned a spot on this list as the best Android app. Aside from positive Google Play reviews, the app’s user interface strikes the right balance between simple and over-the-top. The calendar shows segmented events in custom-color text while all-day events or reminders show up with a color background. Even on a mobile-size screen, you can easily scan your current week and identify available – or unavailable – time slots.

Other useful features include event sharing via QR code, event attachments to include files locally or on shared drives, and configurable widgets. Display the calendar how it works best for you without intense design cluttering your view. There is a free version with a minimum of one ad per day or a pro version that’s ad-free for $5.99.

Best all-around calendar app: Calendar

https://www.calendar.com/

Calendar seeks to solve pain points for so many types of individuals and teams that it earned its own category. The standard calendar features make it easy to read and interact with, while more advanced tools make this app useful for both freelancers and teams. Teams can sign up for an enterprise plan with exclusive features. Create a team meeting by adding all attendees and seeing the subsequent available time windows as each team member is added. The enterprise plan also includes gentle follow-ups to make sure no one misses the event. It’s the digital version of tapping on an office door on the way to the conference room – and helps a remote team stay in sync. Scheduling links allow for colleagues to schedule a meeting based on your availability and analytics help summarize where your time is spent. For freelancers, scheduling is especially useful with meeting templates. Build out custom meeting parameters and share your links with current and potential clients to smooth out your scheduling process.

Calendar is available for free on iOS and Android, with browser access to edit and share scheduling links or make new event templates.

Best calendar for teams: Clockwise

Calendars inherently offer some level of productivity boost. Clockwise takes the standard gain from organizing your schedule one step further by including Focus Time as a priority -- a favorite feature in reviews. This pairing is invaluable for teams navigating endless streams of meetings and constant deadlines.

Clockwise does the heavy-lifting to resolve scheduling conflicts automatically and uses AI to surface ideal times for team members to meet. Reviewers sometimes refer to this heavy-lifting as the ‘administrative work’ that comes with managing the schedules of entire teams – and themselves. It can protect your no-meeting days.

Team leaders can use the analytics features in their strategy planning to determine if there’s adequate Focus Time to accomplish current tasks. They can also strategize what new projects are feasible – and when – with a high-level overview of each member’s time.

Anyone can access a free version to test capabilities – but the app works best when used within a team. Smaller teams can find expanded access to features in the Pro plan for $5 per month, per user. Teams with more than 50 members can take advantage of the Business plan with custom pricing and enhanced service.

Going forward

If I could add one thing to each of these calendar apps it would be better tools for communication and collaboration. If you want to take it a step further, you’ll need to look at chat apps like Slack or Troop Messenger that help your team communicate. These apps and others like them offer features like screen sharing, video calls, team chat, file sharing, and more. Different apps will have varying features paired with paid plans that typically charge per user per month. For instance, a free version of Slack will include a limited amount of message history while the paid plan can include unlimited history.

For team collaboration and project management, combining calendar apps with chat apps can make a positive impact on productivity. While individual team members and freelancers may not have a say in choosing a chat app, everyone can find the calendar app that fits their work style best. Android users have a few options on this list, but will find an app with their operating system in mind with aCalendar while iPhone users will love the clean-line aesthetics of Vantage. Teams can keep it simple in the Google Calendar app to allow for members to customize through their app-of-choice – potentially with Calengoo. Whether you’re in charge of choosing an app for your team or blazing your own trail as a freelancer, Calendar offers the features and customization to boost productivity – not detract from it. Teams struggling with productivity and cohesive schedules find both in Clockwise with optimization and analytics to build productive work weeks.

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Future of Work

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