Best iPhone Apps: Sunrise Calendar

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Apple iPhone users who like to plan their schedules ahead of time can tell you that trying to find the perfect calendar app in App Store is an overwhelming task. There are a plethora of personal information management apps to consider, but Sunrise Calendar is one of the few that truly stand out. Every morning it’s easy to check Sunrise and feel more organized amidst a busy day.

Sunrise Calendar app iPhoneWhat makes Sunrise different from others is its tight integration with other third-party apps, including TripIt, Evernote, Google Calendar, Exchange, iCloud and others. Just last week, it was updated to version 2.5 and integrated support for Todoist. Alongside that, Sunrise now supports pushing events from Google Calendar and an event search function.

Setting up the app takes no longer than 10 minutes. After setting up a Sunrise account, you can link your existing Google, Exchange or iCloud calendar accounts to the app in the settings menu. From there, you can decide which calendars will be visible and what notifications you’ll receive. Various other preferences are customizable here too — you choose your default calendar, select how you want the weather to be displayed, decide when to start a week, determine which navigation app will be your primary one, and elect whether Gmail or Apple Mail should be your primary email app.

After the calendar events are imported into Sunrise, you choose how they want to show your day — either as a single “today” view or a three-day outlook. An icon allows you to toggle between the two.

In the today screen, there is a two-week view at the top. Sunrise first lists the all day’s events, then breaks down appointments and places them in “morning,” “afternoon” and “evening” buckets. It retains the color codes already set up from any third-party calendars you’ve linked.

Adding an event to Sunrise is as simple as touching the “+” icon at the top of the screen. You enter your info into a pop-up screen from there, and depending upon what you’re doing, Sunrise shows some cutesy graphics associated with the event. For example, if you’re scheduling a lunch appointment, an icon with a fork and knife appears. If you’re planning a doctor appointment, a medical bag appears.

Sunrise also sees who’s going to a meeting. Tap on a picture or blank icon head and you can connect to that person via e-mail, text or phone. This makes the calendar more social and friendly.

The app also adds a nice touch when entering locations. If you enter an address that’s near something like a restaurant, some nearby selections will appear. You can then share that location via email or text. And because Sunrise can be integrated with Apple Maps, Google Maps and Waze, you can quickly get directions without having to close Sunrise and open a navigation app separately.

Sunrise Calendar app iPhoneThe three-day view is useful for getting a preview of what you have ahead; you can touch the icon at the top of the screen, or hold the calendar and swipe left to the access it. Sunrise highlights the current day with a pale blue background, with a red line making off the current time, allowing you to quickly see the time and day at any particular moment.

However, what Sunrise lacks is the ability to see the three-day calendar in landscape mode. In some cases where there are multiple appointments, the event looks squished, and titles just wrap to the next line based on how much space is available on your iPhone. By comparison, the iPad version shows a full day view. With the larger screens of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus arriving next week, it might be worth it for Sunrise’s developer to look into showing more days in the calendar and in landscape mode.

One of the best aspects of Sunrise is how frequently it receives updates. As mentioned above, one of its newest features allows events to be pushed from Google Calendars – an upgrade, considering that those users previously had to wait for calendars to sync. Furthermore, a faster search function helps you find events more easily. In the today view, you can now pull down the calendar to show a search bar. Type in a word and a list of relevant events appears.

The new integration with Todoist is also a nice touch. If you set a task and a time to remind you of when something is due, the task appears directly in the calendar. If you want to finish your task by a certain time, it’ll appear in the calendar with a check box icon signifying it is a to-do list item. It’ll also show how many minutes remain before the task needs to be completed.

But the best part about Sunrise? It’s free. For the amount of functionality it brings, it’s a great value for any iOS users who want to keep their day organized. Sunrise is available now in the Apple App Store, and recently arrived in the Google Play Store and Mac App Store too.

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