Why the iPhone calendar app sucks

I started writing this 2 years ago. And I finished writing it, well, today. My view on the topic hasn’t changed and neither has the app itself.

So the calendar on iOS is my second most used application. Every meeting that I have, for work and personal, is in my phone’s calendar. The app works…but the app sucks. It takes me too long to actually create an event. It takes me too long to see an event. And I know there are people going to say that you can do it with Siri but sometimes I just don’t want to talk to my phone.

It really wouldn’t take much for the iPhone calendar to get to the place where it needs to be.

Either way, there is one reason that I keep using it.

And that is the Apple ecosystem.

I’m in it. And I don’t want to get out.

But that being said, the calendar needs improvement.

Here are 5 things the app is good at and 5 things that it’s not.

What’s good

  1. Default is best

For some reason, Apple has not relinquished control of the default for apps to use in iOS. And until they do, default will always be better overall. Even with the Mail app, default is generally better. See, the problem isn’t just that Apple hasn’t released control. It’s also that Apple makes you put entire accounts into their system to get anything done. So if I want my GMail in my phone, it also has access to my Google calendar. And I know that I can turn it off, but for some reason it still feels redundant. So the default nature of Apple’s calendar app is the best case for iPhone users…right now.

2. iCloud Sync

Most apps allow you to use some sort of account or cloud service in order to sync the calendar across devices. But iCloud is just so deeply integrated into my phone and life that it’s so much easier to use what’s already there. I don’t want to have to create another account in order to make sure something works the way I want it to. iCloud works…and that’s why I use it.

3. “Other” Subscribed Calendars

It is so easy to add a calendar to my iOS calendar. Let me give you an example. So I am a fan of the Texas Rangers. And I know they haven’t been good lately but I have been a fan all my life. I enjoy having their schedule on my phone. This way I don’t have to open the MLB app in order to see who they are playing. So what did I do? I opened the MLB app on my phone, went to the Rangers page, and clicked to download their schedule to my iOS calendar. And that’s it! It makes it really easy to put something like that on my calendar.

4. Invitees

Almost every meeting that I have on my calendar has an invitee. And they all use the same calendaring system. And it naturally syncs with our email system…obviously. So once we get our emails setup on our phones, the calendar is setup, too. It makes it so easy for everyone to schedule meetings with each other and to check calendars of coworkers.

5. Alerts

The alerts that you can set for events is by far best implemented on the iOS calendar. Even if it wasn’t, it is so hard to use a third party app and not get duplicate calendar alerts. So I just always use the alerts from the default calendar app.

What’s bad

1. Creation Input

Why does it take me so long to create a calendar event? It is aggravating. It takes so long that it actually discourages me from using the calendar. Please please please let me do natural language input. That is a game changer. And I think that it has to be coming this year.

2. Reminder Integration

There is no reason why reminders should be included in the app. An app such as Fantastical does a great job showing me both my events and reminders. I would love to only have to open 1 app in order to see my day, both things to get done and things I need to be at.

3. Widget

All I want is a full calendar widget that doesn’t require an extra app. I want to be able to put whatever I want into the widget section of my iPhone’s screen.

4. Apple Watch

The Apple Watch app for calendar is fine. But it’s actually pretty useless if you want to do anything but see information. Just let me create things from my Apple Watch…with natural language input.

5. Customization/Fresh paint job

Yes…a calendar app should be boring. But that’s doesn’t mean it needs to be stale. It has been so long since the look has changed. It’s time to give it a fresh coat of paint…and maybe even a little bit of customization.


The app needs a serious overhaul… and I’m sure that Apple is aware of it. Maybe they are looking at something like Fantastical to fix the problem. But until they either fix the problems or open up the entire iOS to set new default apps, then the iPhone calendar app is going to be one of the pain points of using my iPhone.

Post credits: Nate Harrison · Mac O’Clock


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