Fantastical 3

In case you missed the big launch, there’s a new version of my favorite calendar app for Mac and iOS, Fantastical. Fantastical, which is almost 10 years old now, is a gem of a calendar app with fast natural language event parsing, an infinitely handy menu bar view on the Mac, and full support across all Apple devices (and the iPhone app is just as excellent as the Mac version, and the iPad version is awesome). Version 3 adds myriad new features and is an exciting leap forward for this handy app.

You’ll find a lot of press out there that covers the major points quite well, so I won’t regurgitate the entire press release. I do want to start by applauding the approach Flexibits has taken to switching to a subscription model. While subscriptions aren’t generally a popular choice among users, they’ve done literally everything you could ask a company to do:

  • All features from version 2 that you had unlocked are unlocked for free in version 3
  • There’s a free subscription level that allows you to keep using it without the new features
  • The subscription enables server-side integrations that justify ongoing payment
  • The pricing is reasonable with a significant discount for yearly payment
  • Technical support and bug fixes on the previous version (v2) will continue even though it’s no longer a vendor product

Personally, I’m happy to support the continued development of one of my crucial productivity apps, and I can’t find any fault with Flexibits on this one — they’ve covered all the bases.

Mac users will be automatically upgraded to version 3. iPad users will need to download a new app, which will automatically detect a previous install of Fantastical 2 for iPad and unlock the features they’ve already paid for.

David Sparks has released a Fantastical Field Guide with everything you need to make the most of the new version.

So how about those new features? Start with an updated design that extends through all of the various views, from full screen macOS to menu bar entry to iOS versions. It includes a Today Widget, Action & Share extensions, and Handoff support between the Mac, iPhone, and iPad versions. But beyond design, here are the updates I find most useful…

Meeting scheduling. You can suggest multiple meeting times when you add an invitee to an event. An invitation is sent with the options you provide, the recipient clicks on one to confirm, and the event is automatically scheduled in your calendar. It’s like Calend.ly for one-off appointments and it will save you a ton of back-and-forth scheduling emails. Fantastical CEO Michael Simmons demoed this for me while we were on a call and it was flawless — exactly what I would have hoped for from a feature like this.

Location-based Weather. Want to know what the weather is going to be like for an event, no matter where it is? It now shows up in your calendar view, with a forecast (AccuWeather’s MinuteCast) based on the event location. This forecast also integrates with Fantastical’s “time to leave” notifications, so you’ll know what weather you’re headed for when you’re on your way out the door.

Improved natural language parsing. Natural language is the crux of what makes Fantastical great, and superior language parsing has always set it apart from the competition. You can now create repeating events with phrases like “every weekend,” or “second tuesday of the month,” an area I’ve been hoping for improvements on. With the latest version, Fantastical will also autocomplete invitees, locations, and calendars.

Sync calendar sets. Being able to switch sets of visible calendars quickly, or even based on location, has been a mainstay of Fantastical for a while now. This version adds the ability to sync sets between all devices, including Apple Watch.

Focused Tasks view. See your events and dated tasks together in the main list, which also now integrates with iCloud Reminders, Todoist, and Google Tasks. Add tasks and todos just by starting a sentence with “tasks,” “todo,” “reminder” or “remind me to.” You can even include geofences by adding “when I arrive” or “when I leave” to the natural language string.

I’ll also mention Interesting Calendars even though I tend to avoid adding additional items to my own calendars. This feature offers a selection of calendar subscriptions ranging from moon phases to sporting events, ready for easy addition to your calendar views.

Check out Templates, Custom Settings, Travel Time, and a whole bunch of other feature tours on YouTube.

Fantastical 3 is available now for all platforms. The free version has limited features, and a Premium subscription runs $4.99/month. Billed annually, it’s only $3.33/month (the equivalent of four months free).

Assuming you use a calendar on your Mac and/or iOS device, which I think is just about everyone these days, Fantastical is a must-check-out app. Find out more at the Flexibits website. If your interest isn’t piqued yet, Flexibits has a spiffy promo video for you, too. As mentioned above, also check out David Sparks’ Fantastical Field Guide!

Brett Terpstra

Brett is a writer and developer living in Minnesota, USA. You can follow him as ttscoff on Twitter, GitHub, and Mastodon. Keep up with this blog by subscribing in your favorite news reader.

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