Review: Fantastical for iPad completes the improved calendar suite… and it’s pretty sweet

Fantastical for iPad

After first debuting on the Mac then joining iOS with the iPhone, Fantastical is finally ready to replace the calendar on your iPad, too. With Fantastical for iPad, Flexibits has brought the same, streamlined design and natural language parsing for quick event and reminder entry to the iPad. I’ve been using Fantastical for iPad for a few weeks now, so let’s take a look at how it compares to Apple’s calendar app…

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What’s Fantastical?

If you’re not familiar with the Fantastical software, it’s major feature is natural language input. What that means is you can type a phrase like “Golf with Bob on Saturday at 10 am” and Fantastical will schedule it; you don’t have to program each line of the event in the detailed event editor. Fantastical works your existing calendar service, so you can still use iCloud or Google. It’s just an alternative way to view and manage your existing calendar service.

Aside from its natural language input for scheduling events, Fantastical is also very streamlined as it focuses on presenting your events in a simple list view. The Mac app (which is opened in the top menu bar) and iPhone app resemble one another in shape and dimension (although the iPhone app does support landscape orientation and has more dynamic views), but the iPad app is a much different canvas with both portrait and landscape orientation needing to be presented as equally primary views.


What Flexibits has come up with is a first for Fantastical’s design as it has much more screen real estate of which to take advantage, and my first guess is the iPad’s app design could spill over into a future version of the Mac app (maybe as a dock app rather than a menu bar app).

At a glance, Fantastical is divided into three sections on the iPad: the list view with your events, the day ticker with for an upcoming perspective, and a full month calendar view.

The left section presents individual appoints in chronological order on a scrollable, vertical list view. Because Fantastical also supports reminders, this list view unifies appointments and to-do items.

The top bar is the day ticker which shows relevant upcoming days in a a scrollable, horizontal segmented view. This can be toggled to show all upcoming dates, or only dates on which items have been scheduled.

And exclusive to the iPad design is a full month’s calendar view on the right side. You can swipe through to other months and tap on specific dates to see appointments scheduled. This includes both calendar events and reminder events.

If you land too far in the future (or past) at any point from any view, tapping the month and year at the top of the app (just below the current time) will carry you back to the current date in Fantastical.


Adding an event or reminder is easy in Fantastical. The top right of the app features a + button which prompts the keyboard and a text input box. Just type in your event details like “Breakfast at Taco Bell tomorrow from 7 to 11 am” and Fantastical shows you in the preview view that it has scheduled your event.

If you juggle multiple calendars, adding “/w” will move it to your Work calendar, for example. If you have multiple calendars with the same first letter, you can type slash followed by the full name of the calendar to assign it appropriately. Otherwise, an event will land on your default calendar (which you can assign).

Fantastical also interprets phrases like “alert 1 hour before” and “last weekday of the month” to include alerts and repeating events to events during input.

This also works with reminders. Including “todo”, “reminder”, “remind me to”, or “task” to the beginning of a line will let Fantastical know that you are entering a reminder and not a calendar event.

The keyboard features a manual toggle between events and reminders as well as a Details view for manual input. The keyboard is also optimized for managing a calendar with a dedicated row for numbers, colon, and forward slash.

Week View

On the Mac, Fantastical is a single view made of the day ticket and list view of events. On the iPhone, Fantastical’s day ticker pulls down to become a full month calendar, and rotating Fantastical toggles to a week view. Fantastical for iPad has enough space to show a full month calendar from the day ticker view and needs to support the day ticker view from both portrait and landscape orientations, so pulling the day ticker down from either orientation will toggle to week view.

Drag down the day ticker once and you enter a sort of hybrid week view with the full month calendar and list view of events still visible. Drag the half-screen week view down again and you enter a dedicated week viewer.

In portrait…

…and landscape.

Fantastical for iPad also includes two gestures for quickly accessing search and reminders. Swiping in from the right edge of your iPad brings over the search view which can drill down by title, location, people invited to events, or an all view. There is also an icon for bringing this view if you aren’t aware of the gesture.

Swiping in from the left edge of your iPad reveals your list of reminders. Tapping on the name of a reminders list shows you the list of items on that specific list.


As you will see in the next section, Fantastical is probably priced higher than a lot of other iPad apps on the App Store, but one of my first impressions from using Fantastical for iPad a few weeks ago was that having the app I already use on my Mac and iPhone optimized for my iPad added value to using my iPad.

For me, it’s value is in two areas: ease of skimming and understanding upcoming events and ability to quickly input event details before I lose the thought. In my use, the latter part has almost become a race with myself to see how fast I can translate a thought in my head to a scheduled event on my calendar.

If you don’t use your calendar out of lack of need, I’m not sure that Fantastical is worth your money; it’s well designed software that solves a specific problem. If you’ve been disappointed with Apple’s calendar and prefer to keep dates on paper or some other way, I recommend you explore Fantastical as an alternative.

As a more technical user, I prefer Fantastical because the software impresses me. I have found, though, that less savvy calendar software users find Fantastical more approachable and easier to use than Apple’s calendar.

As you’ve seen in various screenshots above, Fantastical offers different ways to customize the app as well.

You can toggle between the default dark theme and the optional light theme. I prefer the light theme most of the time, but I’d love to see a two finger swipe gesture to easily change without using the menu like Tweetbot 3 has on iPhone.

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Fantastical for iPad also takes advantage of Apple’s Dynamic Type feature introduced with iOS 7. If you change your system font in the Settings app on iOS, Fantastical for iPad will adjust accordingly.

It also supports opening links in 1Password, the unique password managing software and TextExpander support for expanding text snippets into phrases for users with workflows invested in those services.

Finally, one of my favorite features in Fantastical involves birthdays. Fantastical has a special, animated view for its users on their friends’ birthdays. This view includes falling confetti and shortcuts for telling your friend “🎈 Happy birthday!” on their special day with Twitter, Facebook, email, and messaging based on your contact information for that person. This feature has made me a better friend, and I really love it.

Availability & Pricing

Flexibits is selling Fantastical for iPad as a new app on the App Store. Fantastical for iPad will go for $14.99 (the Mac app is $19.99 and the iPhone app is $4.99), but you can buy it for $9.99 at its special launch price.

If you want to try out the Mac version, Flexibits offers a free trial on its site (the App Store does not support trials).

While that pricing is probably higher than most iPad apps on the App Store, Fantastical is an app I can recommend to anyone who wants to leverage their iPad as a better calendar.

Your iPad already comes with a calendar app, but Fantastical builds on that experience and improves it with intuitive natural language input, its streamlined design, and support for other services not supported by Apple’s offering. If you’re a calendar user and like better alternatives to built-in apps, I think you’ll like it.

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  1. Patrick Rousseau - 9 years ago

    so i have to pay a third time for fantastical? wow

  2. James Solomon - 9 years ago

    This is why Google Calendar works just fine for me. It’s cross platform, easy to use, and best of all, free. Fantastical looks pretty, but doesn’t add anything I would use. If offered as a “free app”, I would try it out, but no way am I paying for it.

  3. sardonick - 9 years ago

    9.99? No. Pay again for another version. No.

    • Gregory Wright - 9 years ago

      I guess you will be missing out on a really fine calendar app. Your loss.

      • sardonick - 9 years ago

        I don’t consider it a loss, but thanks for your input.

  4. Scott Gerber - 9 years ago

    I would pay just to avoid using any apps by Google.

  5. I used to love Fantastical and bought the Mac version for $20, and iPhone version for $3 (? Day 1 limited price). I would probably have paid $5 for the iPad version but $10 – $15 is just too much. It makes the entire calendar across 3 devices cost $40.

    Instead I have moved to using the Tempo calendar ( on my iPhone. Hopefully they will release a Tempo app for iPad soon.

    Pricing customers out is one way to lose a very loyal and happy customer. Good luck!

    • muttathil - 9 years ago

      Thanks for the tempo tip.
      I got burned by buying Fantastical just before Fantastical 2 came out.
      Not going to get burned again.
      I won’t be buying it for the iPad or Mac and will check out Tempo instead.

  6. paulfj - 9 years ago

    Yeah, no. I LOVE Fantastical on my iPhone. It owns the Pole Position (top left, 1st screen), and I use it all the time. Even paid for it twice so both my wife and I would have it. I would even pay $4.99 one more time to get it on my iPad, but I won’t pay $9.99 or higher. Then again, I primarily do my calendering via iPhone, even before Fantastical. The business model of charging multiple times for multiple platforms is greedy, and while I love the app, I hope it hurts their overall bottom line.

    • You say greedy, I say expecting compensation for the time and energy they put into creating new apps.

      Also, you a) say that you love Fantastical and use it every day, b) would pay $5, but not $10, and c) because it costs $10, you actively *hope* that the developers of your “pole position” app suffer financially. It seems pretty severe to wish pain on someone over $5.

  7. Gregory Wright - 9 years ago

    I am amazed at how some people seem to feel developers should not be able to make a living. The reason apps cost is to derive income for developers. Thay gotta eat and pay expenses just like the rest of us.

    • magi14 (@magister14) - 9 years ago

      Earning a living is fine. Issuing a ‘new’ paid iOS7 version 10 months after the one for iOS6, then a new paid version for the iPAD which costs twice (and eventually three times) as much as the iPhone app, while offering the Mac app for ‘merely’ $20 (though Mac calendar actually supports natural language input), is a sure way to lose costumers, which will eventually have an impact on the developer’s need to eat and pay expenses.

    • Jim Huls (@Techslacker) - 9 years ago

      You have to understand that a developer being able to “eat and pay expenses” is not something that is a priority in most people’s decisions and why should it be? If the developer can deliver a great product that make people want to pay the amount asked, then they’re on the right track.

      For me, I would love to have a native Fantastical on my iPad but somewhere along the way I got use to and enjoy the iPhone version on my iPad. Yeah, it’s bigger on screen and some snobs might laugh at it looking so huge but you know what? It’s does what I want. If there were some really solid reasons to spend $10-$15 more for an iPad version, I might think differently but for now I’m good with the iPhone version that was a reasonable $5

      There will always be some who complain about pricing though. Only the developers will know if they made the right decision.

      For what it’s worth I also have the desktop version and to be honest I regret that purchase. It simply wasn’t worth $20 to me. BusyCal at $50 was a much better buy.

      • Jim Huls (@Techslacker) - 9 years ago

        Just to tack one more thought on to this…

        Had they made this version universal in it being able to run on both the iPhone and iPad for $10 I might think higher of it all. I likely still wouldn’t buy it but I could recommend it to people without them looking at me with the “are you crazy?” look when I tell them that you have to buy it separate for the Mac, iPad, and iPhone and then when Fantasical 3 or whatever they call it comes out, they could have to upgrade each one for the full app store price like people did with Fantastical 2.

      • Gregory Wright - 9 years ago

        Personally, I think you opponents are in the minority. I have 1Password Manager and MyMedical apps on my three devices. Both must be purchased separately for each device. Both are top selling apps on the Apple Store. For me, I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t expect to receive a product produced by someone else labor for free.

  8. Brad Price (@bradpdx) - 9 years ago

    The question of price is not one of the developer “eating and paying expenses” per se – rather, it is always a proclamation of value to the customer. We all pay more for things like Apple products because we believe they are delivering an experience we value – not because we’ve examined the BOM and determined that Apple is charging a “fair markup” on the parts. Apple communicates this many ways, and price is one of them. Likewise with Fantastical – if the experience of using it is important to you, and makes you happy, then $10 or $15 isn’t the problem. It’s simply how much that well-made product costs, and the $10 is part of the agreement with the developer.

  9. suhasvemuri - 9 years ago

    App-Addict here I come.. I’m all for supporting devs.. but wow.. Fantastical 1, Fantastical 2 for iphone and now fantastical for ipad?? and 10$.. thats being greedy.. I paid for the iphone app.. so my conscience is clear.. i hope..

  10. Kris (@TechKris) - 9 years ago

    I think its sad when people are OUTRAGED of the INSANE price tag of $9.99 for fantastic(al) apps likes this that developers bust their asses off and prob put in 80h a week to develop, test and perfect. That’s the price of a lunch..

    With that said I have not decided to buy it yet just because I don’t use the calendar on my iPad that much, but I gladly bought the Mac version. I will probably buy it just because I wanna support the team behind this app.

    If you are not gonna buy it that’s perfectly fine, but claiming its an unfair price tag is pathetic.

    • The outrage is not because Fantastical for iPad is priced at $10 ($15) but that if you are using Fantastical you are likely to use it on Mac, and iPhone (at least that is how some of us operate) and that pushes the combined price tag to $40.

      Looks like there is a large enough market size that either does not buy all 3 of the apps, or is happy to pay $40 for the all 3 apps. But there are many others like me who are not willing.

      Neither opinion is pathetic. It’s a choice that people are making. What is pathetic is calling one or the other choice and associated expression of choice pathetic.

  11. Donny Nguyen - 9 years ago

    copied and pasted from Idownloadblog fantastical review.

    “I really believe that the iPhone apps have ruined the pricing on apps. People have gotten so used to paying an extremely cheap price for top quality apps, that they demand it for every single app as well. Truth is, this app is at a perfect price point. The developers started from scratch on this one. Personally I won’t buy it, not because it’s overpriced, but because I’m not a heavy iPad user. You guys want quality at a very cheap price. Doesn’t work like that people.”

  12. Don Izzo - 9 years ago

    that is cool??

  13. Subhasis Dig (@sdig07) - 9 years ago

    Do not need it. Thank you. This is way over-priced and why I need to pay AGAIN when I have paid for my iPhone.


Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.