Fantastical 2 for iPad review

Thanks to Fantastical 2 for iPad I can now rapidly enter and find appointments and events on all my Apple devices, all the time. Flexibits' hyper-efficient, natural-language parsing calendar app first shipped for the Mac in May of 2011. Fantastical for iPhone landed in November of 2012. Now it's April of 2014, three years post-Mac, a year-and-a-half post-iPhone, and because of Michael Simmons and Kent Sutherland, I can't even use the default iPad calendar as an excuse to avoid time management anymore. I'm now a fully organized person. And yeah, I still love to hate them for that.

Fantastical 2 for iPad will be immediately familiar to anyone and everyone who's ever used the iPhone version. It has the same iOS 7-style look and the same spot-on iOS 7 physics. It has a similar multi-pane layout though instead of two regions — day ticker and list — it has three. The more expansive layout consists of the day ticker on the top, the list view on the left side, and, new to Fantastical 2 for iPad, the month grid on the right side. That highlights how Flexibits has chosen to paint on the bigger canvas. And yes, Flexibits manages to not only keep the amazing bi-directional scrolling of the iPhone version, horizontal and vertical tied perfectly together, but expand it to include the second, less frequently timed vertical scroll that still feels properly timed and weighted. Phenomenal piece of work, that, and it really sells the experience.

On Fantastical for iPhone you had to pull the day ticker down to get the month grid. Now it's there all the time. So what happens if you pull down on the day ticker on Fantastical 2 for iPad? You get the week view that's only available on the iPhone by rotating to landscape mode. (The iPad version is, wisely, identical in portrait and landscape.) Keep pulling and the week view goes full screen.

To get back, unlike repeating the pull down gesture on iPhone, you push up. It's something I thought I'd wanted on the iPhone version but now I'm not sure. It feels more natural but is also a little trickier and it can collide with the Control Center gesture if you're not careful.

Speaking of gestures, Fantastical 2 for iPad takes a cue from Apple and provides greater gesture support on the big screen than it does on the smaller iPhone screen. You can swipe from the left bezel to pull in the reminders list and the right bezel to pull in the search panel. To get around potential discoverability problems, Fantastical also provides checkmark and magnifying glass buttons to trigger the panels, and hints to introduce the gestures.

There are also buttons to open the settings panel and to add events and reminders. Settings offers all the usual options and toggles for the light theme, weekend highlights, time zones, calendars, events, and reminders, as well as the ability to open links in 1Password for iPad, and to switch on notifications.

Adding events and reminders uses the same great natural language text entry system Fantastical for Mac and iPhone have made famous. Just toggle to switch between events and reminders, and tap if you want to set all the details right away.

If all of that sounds quick and easy that's because it is. Like Fantastical for Mac and Fantastical for iPhone, Fantastical 2 for iPad is simply the most efficient way to get things into and out of my calendar that I've found to date. The Mac is what I use when I want to enter a lot of stuff because you still can't beat the power of the keyboard. The iPhone is what I use when I need to add something or find something on the go. So where does the iPad fit in? That's the biggest question I had when I first began beta-testing the app. And the answer should have been obvious — it fits in precisely where the iPad fits in. Right in between.

Now, when I'm reading comics or books, watching movies or TV shows, getting some light work done on a plane or at a coffee shop, I can handle calendaring just as well as I can on the Mac or iPhone. The circle is finally complete.

There will be people for whom Fantastical 2 for iPad isn't the ideal solution. Some with very light, occasional usage will be content with Apple's own Calendar app. Others might simply prefer a different approach, a cheaper approach, or something more server-centric. For those who just want to get in, get out, and get stuff done, I strongly recommend Fantastical 2 for iPad.

Fantastical 2 for iPad is now available on the App Store at the introductory price of $9.99. It'll go up to its regular $14.99 price point when the sale ends. It's not a universal app, so if you already own Fantastical for iPhone you'll have to buy it again for iPad. Since Apple doesn't allow upgrade pricing, and adding a second interface via in-app purchase can be tricky, Flexibits has chosen to go with a second, stand-alone app for iPad. It's less convenient but it's the reality most indie developers have to face. For an app I'll be using every day, potentially all day, that's fine with me. I'm far more concerned about the long term viability and sustainability of a product I depend on than the fractions of a penny it'll cost me to use over time. It's obvious a ton of time and a ton of care went into making Fantastical 2 for iPad and it's going to take more of the same to keep pushing it forward. I wish more developers would price their software to last. I've lost too many apps to insolvency or buyout to wish for anything less.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Nice review, Rene. I blame [thank] you for introducing me to Fantastical 2 for the iPhone and it is my go to calendar app.
    I feel it's too bad that F2 hadn't become universal, but that's life. Maybe one day - then keeping up with updates will be even easier.
    ;D Sent from the iMore App
  • It looks great, and I've tried it on my iPhone and love it. But the price. Damn. $5 for the phone, $20 for OS X and $15 for iPad. That is almost as absurd as paying $20 for Tweetbot for Mac.
  • Yeah, it adds up. However, $40 (20+15+5) is still only about $0.01 a day (40/365) for something you'll likely use every day, multiple times a day.
  • Still don't know why they won't switch from having "dots" for all events in the month view. A duration bar that can span multiple days is much more useful. I've used Fantastical 1 and 2 for the iPhone, but it just doesn't work for me. And this iPad version doesn't appeal to me either. oh well, they're selling craploads so it must be working for someone.
  • Not sure, but I think I agree with you. I've never understood all the hype for Fantasical. I don't understand why "dots" took over for the "visual/spacial" view (for lack of a better term) of the day's or week's events, as in the native app. So I only use Fantastical for the ability to duplicate events quickly on my iPhone when I'm out seeing clients. BUT...this iPad version does have visual/spacial view! Only problem is: I never use the calendar in my iPad. Sure wish they'd add this to the iPhone version. Have absolutely no use for the Mac version.
  • I agree with you too, and I hope that enough of us ask for options for month view that they decide to build some in.
  • Love the functionality of Fantastical, but I actually prefer the stock calendar UI. For my purposes, the included app works brilliantly. I have gone back to using the stock app on my iPhone as well. I'm sure this will appeal to some, even though the price is high IMO.
  • for my iPad, I also use the stock app. data entry is a pain, but I mostly enter events via a google calendar tab on my laptop anyway. So I just need something to look at for reference. The stock app is great in month view (I can see all day events that span multiple days) and week view is great too.
  • I love Fantastical on the iPhone and Mac, however I think I am going to pass on this for the iPad. On the larger screen, I prefer a month view with events and tasks within each of the date boxes. For my needs it just works better on the larger screen. I'll be sticking with Readdle's Calendars 5.
  • Thanks for the review I guess I must download! Sent from the iMore App
  • Added to my Wishlist. Will get it as soon as I get a device I can use it with. :)
  • Wow. That's a little more expensive than I was expecting.
  • I like it a lot. Just downloaded and it's very handy. The look and feel is simple. Automatically downloaded everything on my iPhone. Happy happy happy. Sent from the iMore App
  • Thanks for the review, Rene. Already downloaded and I'm looking forward to playing with it later today. :) The coalescence of events/reminders into one app and the ability to add them by dictation/natural language are the definite wins for me. And now it's available on both of my mobile devices!
  • I bought Fantastical2 (iPhone version) for my iPad last December. Note: I don't have an iPhone or any other type of smart phone. I bought it because so many people raved about it. But, because it was the iPhone version it didn't really serve my needs well. So, like G.4, I have been happy with the stock Calendar on the Pad. If they offered me to upgrade the app on my iPad for, say, $1.99 then yeah it'd be ok. But to now offer Fantastical2 for the iPad but still require me to pay ANOTHER $9.99/$14.99 is ridiculous. It's just not that important or necessary for me to have.
  • I've been using the iPhone version on my iPad because I didn't care for the other iPad calendars. I was happy to give Flexbits the cash for the iPad version. Totally worth it in my opinion for a really well designed app.
  • Fantastical on my Mac and iPhone. Do not really see a reason to shell out $10 or more for an iPad version when my phone or Mac will create the appointment just fine and sync that data.
  • Good review. I'm not the best at at using my calendar and keeping my life organized through a calendar is not something that I do very well. Fantastical 2 actually makes me want to keep my schedule up to date and organized. F2 for the iPad is the best version of Fantastical on any platform. The Mac version could take a few q's from the iPad version.
    It is beautifully designed and can effectively replace calendar and reminders stock apps.
    Quite honestly, this App is priced very fairly and I am only too happy to pay for a great App and help keep indie developers from turning to the dark freemium side.
    iPad app of the year so far in my opinion. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have and like Fantastical on the iPhone. On the iPad I've settled in with Calendars 5 by Readdle. It uses natural language and it a snap to add events. It syncs nicely with Google and the iOS Calendar. Being a bit of a Calendar freak, owning (Pocket Informant, Sunrise, Awesome Calendar, Calenmob, Calengoo) I'd like to try Fantastical 2 for the iPad. But at $9.99, I don't see that happening :-(. If you can tell me a must have feature that it has, you never know, I might give into that desire to try it. But do it quick before it goes up to $14.99 lol.
  • I have C5 & F2 for ipad. F2 for ipad is a lot more intuitive & user friendly...
  • Thanks, I couldn't stand the possibility of not having the newest greatest calendar so I bought it. Pretty nice I must admit. I really like the interface and the fact that I can enter Reminders directly from the calendar. I haven't had a lot of time to play with the other features but so far so good.
  • Just got it this afternoon and I'm loving it. - iPad Mini retina -
  • Great review Rene... As always :) Sent from the iMore App
  • A most excellent review and a brilliant app. hope I can win a copy for my Ipad.