First look: Fantastical 2 for Mac brings advanced calendaring to OS X Yosemite

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After launching a successful follow-up to popular calendar app Fantastical for iPhone and iPad, developer Flexibits returns its attention to Mac with Fantastical 2 for OS X, bringing a slew of new features like Today widgets and extensibility support.

Rolling out Wednesday, Fantastical 2 for OS X features a completely revamped user interface with expanded natural language processing and support for some of OS X 10.10 Yosemite's key features like Handoff, Today widgets, and Action and Share extensions.

Since its inception in 2011, Fantastical has offered support for natural language processing, which lets users add events by typing a single phrase. For example, Fantastical can automatically parse the phrase, "12:00 lunch Tuesday with Eddy at Sardi's," to figure out that "Sardi's" is a location, "12:00" is the time and "Tuesday" is the next available Tuesday.

We've always liked Fantastical's natural language processing, and it's received an update in this release to be even more convenient. It now understands repeating events, such as "every second Tuesday," or "the last weekday of the month," and even "lunch with Eddy at 12:00 every third week on Tuesday."

Another new feature called calendar sets lump together calendars and reminder lists. Users can be browse through results with a keystroke, or have the app pull up sets based on arriving at or leaving a location. For example, users can view a work calendar during the day and switch to home calendars and reminders when leaving the office.

Formerly, Fantastical for Mac was a menu bar application that lived as an icon at the top of the screen. That asset is still available for quick viewing and editing, but with the new release Flexibits adds two more ways to interact with the app.

It's now possible to launch the application from the OS X Dock and interact with it more like a traditional calendar application. This affords space for a large daily or month view, or even new options like week or year overviews.

Users can add events directly from the app's text field using natural language processing, or like other calendar apps, double-clicking on a day. When you double-click on a date, it inserts that date into the quick-add field to take advantage of the natural language processing capabilities. It's those capabilities that keeps Fantastical in our list of go-to apps for Mac and iOS.

Fantastical 2 also offers a fullscreen calendar window, with Day, Week, Month, and Year views. It's got time zone support, birthday reminders, and features designed specifically for Yosemite, including:

  • Today widget
  • Action & Share extensions
  • Handoff support for continuity with Fantastical 2 for iPhone and Fantastical 2 for iPad.

The app is localized in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and new to this version, Japanese. Using OS X's built-in dictation works in all of these languages, which makes it absurdly easy to add events and reminders.

We were unable to see Handoff functionality at this time, because Handoff requires that both the Mac and iPhone or iPad app both have the capability enabled, and the iOS apps are waiting on an app update to be approved at this time. We expect that this update will be available soon, and the feature should allow starting an event or reminder on Mac and completing it on the iPhone or iPad. The reverse is also expected to work, starting a draft of an event or reminder on the iPhone and continuing editing it on the Mac.

The Today widget shows both reminders and events in a list, and it's possible to check off reminders directly from the widget. What makes this more convenient than using the OS X Calendar widget and Reminders widget is that they're all grouped together and take up less vertical space than the Apple provided widgets.

Because Fantastical syncs with iCloud, Google, Yahoo, it covers many of the calendar services you would want to use. It also can add local and Exchange calendars set up in OS X's system preferences, and a calendar service called Fruux. Because Fantastical has it's own CalDAV engine built-in, it can talk to all of these services, and any other CalDAV-based calendar service you might use.

Fantastical 2 is available from the Mac App Store or Flexibits.com and is launching at a discounted price of $39.99 for a limited time before returning to the standard price of $49.99. The app requires OS X 10.10 Yosemite or newer.