Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

If you ask anyone what the best third-party calendar app is for the Mac, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who says anything other than Fantastical or BusyCal. Those have been the leaders of the pack for quite some time. Then, a few years ago, Fantastical made its debut on the iPhone and later on iPad. Now, as of July 2016, BusyCal is joining the mobile arena as well. Loyal users will argue back and forth until their jaws lock up which app is better for the Mac, but now that both are available on iOS, are they equal on the smartphone as well? Here you’ll find an in-depth comparison of design and features to find out.

The Design is No Contest

BusyCal on Mac and iOS is not known for its visual appeal. The design remains plain on both platforms. The app offers various calendar views to suit your preference, including a list view, day view, week view, and month view. Additionally, there is a separate To Do list view for reminders.

Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

The month view is the best. It shows all events in small boxes on the screen. Tapping on one expands the view for that day into a schedule that includes your calendars and the weather if it’s nearby.

Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

The live search feature and the New Event sheet can always be found at the top right of the screen. However, the initial impression of the New Event form is that it is primitive. You have to manually enter information in all the fields, such as title, location, start and end time, calendar, and alarm. It can be considered extensive, which may be perceived as either good or bad. BusyCal does support natural language input, but it is not the default setting.

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On the other hand, Fantastical takes a clean approach by displaying a calendar at the top to show busy times and an interactive list of events below. These two elements work together, so as you scroll through the list, the calendar moves in sync. There is no month view in Fantastical, but you can switch to a week view by turning your iPhone horizontally.

Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

The search bar is located at the top and the New Event sheet above it is clean and easy to understand. It primarily uses natural language input, but you can display all the details if desired.

Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

Fantastical excels in design. It is visually superior and impresses with its concise event addition. It maximizes the larger iPad screen, while BusyCal appears stretched. BusyCal deserves credit for its outstanding month view.

BusyCal has more features and supports a wider array of calendar services compared to Fantastical. It supports iCloud, Google, Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, Fruux, Yahoo, CalDAV, and WebDAV calendars. Fantastical supports the same services as the built-in Calendar.app: iCloud, Exchange, Google, Yahoo, Outlook, CalDAV, and subscribed calendars. However, BusyCal still wins as it supports more services. This could be a deal breaker depending on your preferred services.

Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

BusyCal is a feature-rich calendar app. It displays the weather forecast for the day and week ahead, allows you to input travel time, and includes attendee and tag options for events. Overall, BusyCal is a powerful and impressive calendar app for iOS.

Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

BusyCal has a feature that allows for natural language event creation, similar to Fantastical. It’s not clear why this setting is not enabled by default, as it is an important feature that I find necessary in a calendar app. While BusyCal’s natural language event creation works well, it is slightly slower than Fantastical’s.

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Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

BusyCal is known for its rich features and settings, which can take some time to explore. I recommend taking the time to familiarize yourself with the app’s settings when you first download it.

Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

Fantastical has always struck a balance between power and design. While it is faster and more visually appealing, it falls short in terms of features compared to BusyCal. It lacks built-in weather and travel times, among other things. The one notable advantage it has over BusyCal is a fantastic Today widget that can be customized to display a full calendar and/or list of today’s events. BusyCal, on the other hand, does not offer a widget.

Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?Fantastical vs BusyCal: Which Mac App is Better on iOS?

Both are feature-rich, but BusyCal outshines.

Pricing

Fantastical is not a universal app for iOS; hence, you need to purchase the iPhone app and iPad app separately. The iPhone app costs $4.99, while the iPad app costs $9.99. Thus, if you want both, you’ll have to pay a total of $14.98, which is quite expensive for an iOS app.

On the other hand, BusyCal is a universal app that costs only $4.99. With BusyCal, you get both the iPhone and iPad apps, making it three times cheaper than Fantastical. If you only plan to use it on your iPhone, both apps would cost the same. However, objectively speaking, BusyCal offers more value for your money.

Tip: Both BusyCal and Fantastical

Winner: BusyCal

Overall, Fantastical is terrific at what it does. BusyCal is good at what it does, but it does a lot more. If you spend a lot of time adding events, moving meetings, and organizing your life, BusyCal is probably more suited to you. If you jump in and out of your calendar for small changes, Fantastical is the clear champion. While that describes how I use my calendar, I need to consider a broader audience. Therefore, BusyCal is a more powerful and affordable calendar app for iOS.

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