Mobile

With Calendar app revamp, Google aims to keep rivals at bay

The app will automatically turn flight confirmations and concert tickets sent to your Gmail account into calendar events.

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Google Calendar is just the latest mobile service the company has made over. Google

Google is trying to make sure its Calendar app stays current.

The Internet giant on Monday announced updates to the Calendar app for its Android operating system, as well as Apple's iPhone. The software has a new look and set of features to automate events and reduce fiddling users have to do to keep their days organized. For example, the app takes flight confirmations and concert tickets sent to someone's Gmail account, and automatically turns them into calendar events.

Google's Calendar revamp is just the latest makeover the company has given to its major productivity services. Last month, Google unveiled a new mobile app called Inbox, which exists alongside its Gmail service and is designed to help organize emails. The new product was born out of Google's need to compete with rival apps and services like Mailbox, owned by Dropbox, said Sameet Sinha, a financial analyst at investment bank B. Riley and Co.

Google is at its heart a software company, even as it tries its hand at ambitious hardware projects like Wi-Fi-beaming balloons and built-from-scratch driverless car prototypes. The company's biggest moneymaker, after all, is its $50 billion a year search and advertising business. But as competition from mobile app makers becomes more fierce, Google needs to make sure its own mobile software doesn't go stale. Both upstarts like the Sunrise smart calendar and tech giants like cloud-storage company Dropbox have treaded on Google's turf.

"These big companies [like Google and Apple] learn from what consumers are downloading," Sinha said. That's one reason app marketplaces like Google's Play store and Apple's App Store -- where people download programs for their devices -- are so valuable to those companies, he added.

Other new Calendar features include suggestions for calendar events, based on your past behavior. For example, if you go running with the same person every week, the app will automatically suggest that kind of calendar entry when you start to type the word "run." A new scheduling view adds photos and maps of the places you're going.

The calendar app is available on devices that run Google's latest version of Android, called Lollipop , which the company began rolling out on Monday. The app will be available on devices running the older 4.1 version of Android "in coming weeks," and the company said it's working on a version for Apple's iPhone as well.