Cal (iOS) review: Elegant calendar with all the right features

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Cal for iOS has a simple, yet stylish design that's easy to use.

The Bad The app adds free time slots to your daily agenda, which create clutter.

The Bottom Line Download Cal for its unique, photo-focused design, and solid event planning features.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.7 Overall
  • Installation and Setup 8.0
  • Features and Support 8.0
  • Interface 8.0
  • Performance 7.0

Given that the popular to-do list app has a simple, polished design, it's no surprise that the company's new calendar app, Cal, would also be visually stunning. Cal uses's simple aesthetic, but adds a library of impressive photos to jazzy up your boring calendar.

If you're unfamiliar, Any.Do is a to-do list app for iOS and Android with a clean, polished design and a ton of features. For instance, it knows when you miss a call and asks if you want to follow up and helps you schedule meetings from your e-mails.

In July 2013, unveiled Cal for iOS, with the Android app popping up a few months later in December. The app shows you a daily agenda complete with that date's appointments and any to-do list items you need to accomplish, helping you stay on top of your schedule.

Getting started
You'll need an account to start using Cal. If you don't already have one, you can sign up with an e-mail and password combo, or with your Facebook account.

Once you're signed in, the app will ask you to import the calendars from your phone. That includes the local iPhone calendar from the app, and any calendars you've synced from other accounts, such as Gmail or Outlook. You can also import birthdays of your contacts.

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Your daily agenda (left) and monthly calendar. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

As you add new events to the accounts synced with your phone, they will automatically show up in Cal. If you added a location or reminder in one of those calendars, that information will also appear. Cal also syncs events with the local calendar on your iPhone's calendar app, which means your upcoming items will show up in the iOS notification menu.

Lastly, if you want your tasks to show up, just head over to settings and tap the box that reads "connect with" You need to have the app installed on your phone for Cal for this to work. Any task that you've scheduled for today, tomorrow, or for a specific date and time will appear in your calendar.

The first thing I noticed about Cal — in fact the first thing that piqued my interest in the app — is that it has a beautiful, clean design; from the welcome screen with cheerful GIFs in the background, to the full-screen photos that act as backgrounds on most screens. I absolutely dig the design, as it's charming, uncluttered, and easy to navigate.

The photo backgrounds show up in two places in Cal, in your daily agenda and on each event page. As you swipe to new day in your agenda, the picture changes. You can choose which photo themes you want, including animals, food, and illustration.

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A few of the photo backgrounds in Cal. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Some of the photos are a bit odd, a girl posing in a designer outfit or a pink and grey clothing closet, but most of them are pleasing shots of delicious food or breathtaking landscapes. If you tap once on the picture, you can view it full screen with the selected date at the bottom. There's also a link in the top right for the photo source.

The iPhone app even uses GIFs as backgrounds (the Android app does not). I spotted a Pusheen the Cat GIF, and one of a spinning rainbow globe. As cool as the GIFs are, they don't really work. Often times if I swiped to a day with a GIF, changed dates, then swiped back, the GIF would disappear, replaced by another photo. In contrast the Android app would show the same photo for a particular date consistently, no matter how many times I viewed it. This happened most times I opened the app.

Along with the pretty photo background, event pages also have an attractive layout, with individual cards for time, location, and other details. Everything is laid out clearly, which I really appreciate, because it makes it easy to read at a glance.

Your daily agenda
Cal's greatest strength is organizing your daily agenda, basically all of the to-dos, meetings, and appointments you have on your plate on one given date. When you launch the app, it automatically jumps to today's agenda, which shows all of your events and tasks in a chronological list. This is different from other calendar apps, which show an hourly timeline with blocks of time shaded for each appointment. Whether Cal's layout works for you or not is a matter of personal preference, but I find it easy to use.

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