Flexibits updated its popular Fantastical apps for iPhone and iPad this morning to take advantage of a number of new features in iOS 9 and on the iPhone 6s. Arguably the biggest improvement to productivity comes in the form of multitasking support for the iPad. Fantastical also threw in a dash of the new iPhone’s 3D Touch as well.
SAN FRANCISCO — The key to crafting great Apple Watch apps can be summed up with a simple mantra: “Make the user happy.”
That’s designer Joe Cieplinski’s approach to all design, really, but the precept is even more important than ever for developers making apps for Apple’s new wearable. Instead of attempting to cram all the features of an iPhone app onto that tiny screen, devs need to focus as much on what they leave out as what they include.
“That’s how you get a successful product,” Cieplinski, who works for Philadelphia-based Bombing Brain Interactive, told Cult of Mac after his AltConf panel here Tuesday. “It’s not just trying to be philosophical.”
Fantastical has been my go-to calendar app for years. It’s interface and ease of use is second to none, especially Apple’s terrible Calendar app.
But Fantastical hasn’t received much love on the Mac in awhile. While the iOS version has continued to steadily iterate, the app’s design and basic feature set on the desktop has basically stayed the same.
Today Fantastical 2 for Mac arrives, bringing a complete design revamp for OS X Yosemite and several major new features.
Who says iOS has all the apps? According to new data, Google isn’t just kicking butt when it comes to market share, but also mobile apps as well. The search giant’s Play Store now offers a great selection of titles than the App Store, but Apple fans will argue that quality is more important than quantity.
The Today view inside Notification Center was seen by many as a pretty pointless addition to iOS 7; it offered an incredibly brief overview of the day ahead and was somewhat customizable, but it did so little that most iPhone and iPad users forgot it was even there after a little while. That all changed with iOS 8 and support for third-party widgets.
Now the Today screen can be filled with useful information and handy little tools, such as calculators, currency convertors, weather widgets, and more. With the right apps, you can turn yours into a one-stop shop for all the data you care about.
To help you get started, here's a gallery of the best iOS 8 widgets you can get right now.
WeatherPro is one of the best weather apps you can buy on iOS; it's feature-packed and incredibly accurate. And its widget makes it even more useful by providing you with the current forecast and temperature, in addition to things like wind speed and precipitation -- all inside Notification Center.
The WeatherPro app itself boasts 3-hourly forecasts for the week ahead, worldwide alerts and warnings for extreme weather, global satellites and animated radars, and the ability to add an unlimited number of favorite locations.
You can download WeatherPro from the App Store now for $1.99.
Wdgts is actually a whole bunch of useful widgets inside one app. It includes useful tools as standard, like a calculator, currency converter, calendar, and time zones -- in addition to a premium pack that offers a network monitor, battery stats, and memory and disk usage data. Wdgts also offers a photo frame, so you can feed it a few of your favorite pics and enjoy them inside Notification Center while you're checking on your calendar.
Wdgst is a free download while the premium pack add-on can be had for just $0.99.
Much like Wdgts, Vidgets contains a number of handy widgets that help you seek out useful information in a pinch. It has over 30 widgets in total, including a world clock, timer, barometer, speedometer, weather forecast, and compass. It'll also show your how much storage and memory you're using.
The best thing about Vidgets is that it's totally free -- all 30 widgets are included as standard and there are no ads or in-app purchases.
The ScoreCenter widget is a must-have for sports fans. Simply log into the app using your SportsCenter account (it's free if you don't already have one) and select your favorite sports teams. SportsCenter will then keep you up to date on the latest scores inside Notification Center, so you'll never have to open an app again just to keep up with your teams. Whether you're into the NFL, NBA, NHL, or the English Premier League, SportsCenter has you covered.
You can download SportsCenter for free right now.
Google News & Weather
If you simply don't have time to keep up with the day's news, get the Google News widget and have breaking news headlines delivered right to your Today screen.
Inside the free Google News & Weather app, you can customize choose which sections and sources you see stories from, and then read top stories from each one. Google ensures you never miss big news even if you only have a few minutes to spare between meetings.
If you use the calendar on your iOS device, you really should have Fantastical 2 -- it's just terrific. It delivers all of the features you'd expect from a calendar app -- detailed events, reminders, and syncing with services like iCloud, Exchange, and Google Calendar -- plus some really nifty things like TextExpander. It also supports the feature that made Fantastical for Mac famous -- the ability to add events to your calendar using natural language. So, instead of filling out a bunch of boxes, you can type things like, "dinner with Tom at The Ivy at 1," and Fantastical will do the rest for you.
The Fantastical widget lets you quickly see whether you have appointments in your calendar for the day ahead, and helps you quickly find days on which your schedule isn't so packed.
Fantastical for iPhone is $1.99, and Fantastical for iPad is $4.99.
The Evernote widget simply makes the Evernote experience on iOS much greater. It provides five shortcuts that let you quickly add notes, photos, reminders, and lists to your notebooks. So if you're always opening up the Evernote app to add new things you don't want to forget, enable this widget inside Notification Center and make the process much simpler.
If you don't already have Evernote installed, it's a free download from the App Store.
The Deliveries app is a great way to track your packages from your iPhone or iPad. It will detect tracking numbers copied to your clipboard, and in most cases, automatically identify the courier. You can add as many parcels as you wish, then them to your door with the Deliveries app, or from inside Notification Center -- without having to type numerous tracking numbers into different websites.
Deliveries is a universal app compatible with iPhone and iPad, and you can get it now for $4.99.
Clear from Realmac Software has become one of the most adored to-do apps for iOS, but it's no longer just a list-maker. Thanks to support for reminders and its excellent widget, you can finally add important tasks and get alerts when they are due, ensuring you never forget that bottle of milk on the way home, or that important report that's due tomorrow morning.
Get CLear for iOS now for $4.99.
Thanks to how apps can hook into each other with Extensibility in iOS 8, third-party developers are able to rival the systemwide functionality of Apple’s stock apps like never before.
So is the case with Flexibits, maker of the popular calendar app Fantastical. In a big 2.2 update today, Fantastical has not only been optimized for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it’s received a number of iOS 8-only features.
iOS 8 will bring Extensions to your iPhone and iPad. Extensions are essentially miniature versions of apps that can be run inside other apps. For instance, if you have Evernote installed on your iPhone, you could pop up the Evernote Extension when you’re running the Mail app, and save a snippet of that email to your Evernote account.
Clearly this is huge. It’s something that Android and Windows Phone users have enjoyed for a while, but Apple has – typically – taken its time to get it right. In fact, you have probably used Apple’s own “test” Extensions already: Whenever you see the Mail sheet roll down inside another app, or you access the built-in Twitter sharing box, you’re using an Extension.
But what kind of things can Extensions do for us? I’ve been thinking about that, and here’s a wish list of Extensions I’d love to see.
Despite all efforts to the contrary, email is still the default way to shift files, photos and – yes – mail around the internet. Even when you share a file using Dropbox, the link goes via old-fashioned email. And yet email clients are still awful. They’ve gotten a lot better in the last couple of years, on both iOS and the Mac, but we’re still stuck without a proper task manager that integrates with the native iOS/OS X Calendar and Reminders.
Today you may have noticed a little teaser page from Flexibits, makers of the beloved calendar app Fantastical.
“Fantastical 2 for iPhone on your iPad is good,” reads the teaser. “Fantastical 2 for iPad on your iPad is even better.” There’s a mailing list where you can sign up to get notified when the app arrives.
We’re itching to tell you more, like exactly when the app is coming out and why it’s awesome, but you’ll have to be patient. All that’s being said at this point is that Fantastical for iPad will be a separate download from the existing Fantastical for iPhone. That means new and existing customers will need to pony up a little change.