Google Calendar for Android review: The features you want, with an eye-catching design

Once you're done naming your event, the app will prompt you to add a location, so you can get directions, and add guests so you can attach their contact information. From there you can change the time, set a reminder, invite guests, set the event to repeat, change the color label and add notes. Once you've saved it, it will appear in your calendar, just like you'd expect.

Google Calendar also works with your Gmail account to create events automatically when you get reservations, tickets and invitations in your inbox. All of the relevant details are there, including confirmation numbers, links to the source email, even gate assignments for flights. You can turn this feature off if you don't want it, but it's one of my favorite parts of the app.

One thing that's missing from the Google Calendar app is Tasks. If you use the task bar on the side of Google Calendar on the Web, then you'll be disappointed to know that the tool isn't part of the mobile app, and it doesn't seem like it ever will be. You're better off using the standalone Google Keep app (Android only), instead.

Adding personality

A big part of Google Calendar's new design are the personal design touches that keep it from looking dull. The app can recognize and categorize certain kinds of events, like meals, flights, fitness classes and movie nights, and adds illustrations to them to help you recognize them when you're scrolling through the Schedule view.

For instance, a calendar event to grab a movie shows a bucket of popcorn and a ticket. If you've added a location to your event, you'll see a map or a photo of the business instead of the graphic. You'll also see those illustrations when you tap to open an event, from any view.

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Google Calendar on an Android tablet has full-screen illustrations. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

You'll also see themed illustrations for each month, similar to a wall calendar. They are all themed based on the weather or outdoor activities; for April, there's a park scene, July has an under-the-sea motif and December shows a snow-covered mountain and a skier. In the Android app on a tablet, you'll see these pictures full screen in the Schedule view when you're in landscape mode. On Android phones and iPhones, they appear in the Schedule view when you scroll from one month to the next.

Final thoughts

Overall, the official Google Calendar app is a reliable, simple and playful alternative to your device's built-in calendar, either on Android or iOS. It's been completely redesigned so it looks the same across all platforms and has a fresh aesthetic that's different than other calendar apps out there.

With time-saving features that automatically create events for you and help you manually create other ones, Google Calendar is efficient and a breeze to use. In fact, it's my favorite pick for managing my schedule.

CNET Editor Jaymar Cabebe contributed to this review.

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