Agenda for iPhone

I bought Agenda for the iPhone a few weeks ago after reading this complimentary review of it by Ben Brooks. I can’t say I bought it because of the review—Ben and I have different ideas about what makes a good calendar app, so I’m skeptical of his recommendations in this area—but it certainly got me interested in checking out the screenshots and video on the Savvy Apps website. They’re what made the sale.

And after nearly three weeks of continuous use, Agenda has replaced the builtin Calendar app on my home screen. Let me give you a tour so you can see why.

Agenda gives you five views of your calendar:

A six-month view.

Six-month view

A one-month view.

One-month view

A “week” view. (This is what Savvy calls the view, even though it doesn’t really show you a week.)

Week view

A day view.

Day view

And, finally, an event view.

Event view

Conceptually, these views are laid out from left to right, and you go from one view to another by either swiping horizontally or by tapping the arrow buttons in the bottom toolbar.

Within a particular view, you move forward or backward in time by swiping up or down. Of the five views, four of them “snap” into discrete, fixed locations as you scroll through time. The year view always snaps to either a January-June or a July-December set of months. The month view always shows a whole month; it won’t show, for example, the last week of June and the first few weeks of July. Similarly, the day view shows exactly one calendar day, and the event view shows exactly one event.

It’s the so-called week view that makes Agenda interesting. Unlike the other views, it scrolls continuously. In that way, it’s like the list view in the builtin Calendar app, except that it shows every day, not just the days that have events. I also think it looks better than the Calendar list view.

Calendar list view

Putting the date off to the left makes Agenda less cluttered. This is not just an aesthetic preference. To me, the week view is Agenda’s main selling point, its killer feature. I like the way all its views look, but the week view puts a lot of information in a single screen in a way that’s easy to read with a single glance. I haven’t run across another calendar app that presents its information this cleanly, this usably.

Although swiping and arrow-tapping are the fundamental means of navigation, Agenda has other ways to move around that work pretty much as you’d expect.

Of these, the second one may seem a bit odd: why doesn’t tapping on a day take you directly to that day, bypassing the week view? I think it’s because Savvy believes strongly in it’s left-to-right conceptual layout and thinks it’s wrong to jump over one of the views to get to the next one. That’s why you can’t tap on a single event in the week view and go directly to that event—Agenda interprets a tap on an event in week view as a tap on the enclosing day.

I spend almost all my time in week view. It doesn’t give me all the information for upcoming events, but what it gives—event name and time—are usually all I need. If I need to see the location or notes for an event, I can get them with a tap or two.

You enter events in Agenda using exactly the same tools you use in Calendar. There’s no Calvetica-like fanciness to event creation. Since I spend much more time reviewing my schedule than editing it, this is fine with me.

If you’re worried about losing events by switching back and forth between calendars, don’t be. Agenda reads from and writes to the same database as the builtin Calendar. If you switch back to Calendar, all the events you entered in Agenda will be there. And they’ll sync with your computer calendar, too.

So what’s wrong with Agenda? A little bit with several things:

It’s funny. I didn’t realize I had so many complaints about Agenda until I started typing out this list. It’s a testament to how good the app is that I’m willing to put up with these annoyances to use it. That scrolling week view covers a multitude of (relatively minor) sins.