My Love/Hate relationship with the new Google Cal app

On function versus form in mobile calendar design

I was as giddy as a kid at Christmas to learn of the new iOS Google Calendar app and immediately downloaded it. Upon launching and opening it, my heart sank like a ton of bricks. It felt like a sucker punch to the gut, like opening that giant shiny-wrapped present to find 3 oversized sweaters knitted by Auntie Mabel.

This is what I saw.

Form trumps function

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Google calendar default view (Schedule)

In big bright blocks of filled color, Google is telling me:

“Your day sucks. It’s completely over. I’ve eaten up your day and filled it end to end, border to border with THINGS THAT MATTER. My job is done. Good luck getting through the day. You’ll need it.”

Compare this to the light and airiness of the iOS Calendar.

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Apple calendar default view

“Don’t worry, you’ve got a lot of stuff going on, but it’s not going to take over your day.”

Compare that to the even more helpful Sunrise:

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Sunrise default view

“This day is busy, but I’m going to help you with it. Keep in mind that your next meeting is in 27 minutes, and here are the folks who are there. You’ve also got some free time before the afternoon.”

But Ultimately, Function Trumps Form

Despite being the most visually appealing, most usable calendar app that’s out there, I ended up deleting Sunrise from my phone and laptop. Despite the beauty it brings into my everyday, Sunrise has a core dealbreaker; it failed to sync my meetings across my different systems. If the core functionality of the app fails, then no number of visual tweaks will matter.

So in the end, I imagine that I’ll probably use the Gcal app on my phone. Luckily there’s enough options for me to switch the default view to something slightly airier, to a view that gives me back chunks of free time in the day. This view doesn’t depress me quite as much about the state of my back-to-back appointments.

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Google calendar Day view

Written by

Leadership coach & champion of difficult people; designer of human experiences; ex-Facebook; surfer, traveller, mom;

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