REVIEW: Pocket Informant lets you chuck iPhone’s Calendar and To Do apps
Over the weekend I paid more for an iPhone app than I’ve ever paid in the whole time that I’ve owned the device. Overall, my view of iPhone apps is that if I’m going to pay more than $3 for it, it better be incredible. With my purchase of Pocket Informant from WebIS, I’ve found an app that is pretty freakin’ incredible. So much so that the 12.99 I paid for this app is well worth it.
Pocket Informant (or PI) basically replaces your iPhone’s default Calendar and To Do applications with a single app that is light years beyond those simplistic toys. It features full synchronization with Google Calendar, without the five calendar limitation that Apple forces on its Calendar app. I have ten calendars I’m using or following in GCal right now, and PI pulled them all in without any problem. The one calendar it can’t pull in is the new Google Tasks calendar, but that’s only because Google hasn’t released the APIs to allow them to do that. I’ve emailed the developer and that functionality is planned as soon as Google allows. Until then, you can either manage tasks manually using PI or you can sync it to a web service called toodledo.com.
What makes PI truly worth its price are the ways they display your calendar. First, there is a Today view, that shows you all events and activities for the current day (I’ve blocked out the event descriptions because they’re from my real calendar). The Today view allows you to see at a glance everything that’s going on today, plus it allows you to see upcoming actions that are coming due.
The List view shows you only your schedule, and allows you to scroll up and down to see past/future events. This is just like the List view in the Calendar app.
Similarly, the Day view is much like the Day view in the Calendar app, but with a great twist. Rather than using forward/back arrows a la the Calendar app, PI allows you to flick left or right to move back and forth in time. Much easier to flick through one-handed.
Where PI really shines, however, are in its Week and Month views. The Week view is not even available in Calendar, and it’s probably the single greatest thing about PI, in my opinion.
In one screen, I can see everything about my week. There are several subtle things about this view that make it incredibly useful. First, like the Day view, you can flick left or right to move back and forth in time. Second, if you have too many events in one of the compressed days to see clearly, you can select that day and PI will pop up a custom view for that day that includes your events and activities. You return to the Week view with a single tap. Brilliance. The Week view can be organized so that the same day is always shown as the wide day, or you can set it to have the current day as the wide day. You can also arrange the other small days either top to bottom or left to right. Note how each day has a graphical representation of time under each day’s heading, with color coding to represent when you have appointments. And even within those tiny squares, you can scroll up or down within the day to see events that are off the screen.
The Month view is another great PI innovation.
Note how PI goes above and beyond Apple’s Calendar app to give you an overview of what your month looks like. All day events, as well as scheduled events are clearly indicated. Need to see what you’re doing on a specific day? Just tap that day to bring up a detail view.
You can see what’s happening for that specific day, plus you have a representation of your schedule for the week. A single tap returns you to the Month view.
The To Do view is pretty standard. To Do’s are classified by Projects and can be given Start/Due dates. I’m sure there’s tons of functionality in here that I’m missing but honestly I didn’t want to get too into the To Do’s because I want to wait until Google Task integration is released.
Finally, the Search function allows you to search Events, To Do’s and Contacts.
I’m hoping that this means PI will be expanded to include a Contacts function as well, because I’m not a huge fan of the Contacts app either. The developers seem committed to continuing to evolve the app, and they’ve even got a version ready for when iPhone OS 3.0 is released. All in all, I love PI and recommend it highly. If you are hesitant (like I was) to spend so much for an app, WebIS makes a free trial version that limits you to syncing of 15 activities and two weeks of events, plus it doesn’t have the Today view. I used that for a couple days before taking the plunge.