Why Google Calendar doesn’t work for everyday reminders

I was arguing earlier that, because there are too many ways to add a reminder using Google products, Google actually needs to concentrate their efforts and create a dedicated app for them.

One of these ways is Google Calendar. Powerful, complex and one of Google’s core apps. At the time of writing, the web version is still lingering in the pre Material Design era, so it’s bad. Best for everybody if we don’t talk about it. The mobile app, though, is worthy of Google’s level of quality. Beautiful, intuitive and almost simple.

This almost simple, however, is basically the difference between using it and not using it.

List view

Up to the screen where you actually add an event, the app is really nice.

List view in Google Calendar

Being a part of the exclusive services that display personal information Google parses from emails, Calendar contains events added automatically, like flight dates and booking information.

Which, of course, looks magical the first time you see them, until you realize you have a not-so-private Gmail account. But this feature is so convenient and lazy-friendly, the vast majority of users don’t actually give a fuck afterwards.

It also identifies popular keywords in your events, like “dentist” and displays visual representations next to the event, a nice touch that brightens up a seemingly boring list.

Add event

But then you get to the adding part. This is the screen that welcomes you when you hit the red + button.

Add an event in Google Calendar

Oh, the horror… I still can’t fathom the process by which this layout was regarded as acceptable for production. I imagine the amount of research and testing and the number of iterations that went into redesigning this part and I refuse to think that this is the best they could come up with.

Every time I get to this screen I feel sad because I know I will waste precious seconds of my life identifying the few options that I actually want in this ocean of preferences and then questioning myself if those are the right ones.

Also unfriendly is the Save button placed in top right corner. Reaching that part of the screen with your thumb using a 5-inch+ smartphone is basically impossible. This means that adding an event will require using both your hands, restricting the comfort and speed of handling even more.

Conclusion

Using Google Calendar for reminders is like trying to dig a hole with a fork. You can do it, but it would be smarter if you don’t.

I am well aware of the fact that the app is targeted for events not reminders, that’s why Calendar is not a stripped down app and it’s not optimized for speed. Still, even for events, part of the user experience and visual design could be improved so that it focuses more on the few options real users actually use and less on creating the perfect looking event.