As the sun sets on Sunrise, I look over a wave of replacements

In February 2015, Microsoft acquired Sunrise. Sunrise was, and remains, my favourite calendar app for one simple reason:

It is, for me, the one that rules them all.

I was able to connect my iCloud account, two Google accounts, Wunderlist, Trello, LinkedIn, and even Facebook to my Sunrise calendar. My oldest child’s soccer practices and games? On my calendar. Meetings at work? On my calendar. Trello cards due over the next week? On my calendar. Facebook friends’ birthdays? On my calendar.

Credit: sunrise.am

I only needed one calendar to remind me of all the things I had coming up, no matter what aspect of my life it affected. It has been a revelation for me, and something I’ve wanted ever since I got my first smartphone. Alas, Microsoft recently announced they would sunset Sunrise, and the app and service would cease to function completely as of August 31.

And so, once again, I’m on the hunt for a calendar aggregator that can now replace Sunrise. I have a few requirements, of course:

  • iOS and Android apps
  • Free version (optional paid version is fine)
  • Compatibility with most (if not all) of the services I use
  • Nice, clean design that’s easy to use
  • Alerts/notifications

Ideally, my new calendar app will also feature the following:

  • Compatibility with Google, Microsoft Office 365, Trello, Wunderlist, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts
  • Embedded maps for events with physical locations listed
  • Desktop apps, especially Mac OS X
  • Web version

In order to keep the size of this blog entry reasonable, I’ve already done a bunch of filtering to bring this down to the apps that meet my requirements. They are:

  • UpTo
  • Wave
  • Any.do Cal

UpTo

UpTo has a very nice looking design, and they do things a bit differently than other calendar apps I’ve used in the past. I will let the UpTo team explain it:

Your UpTo calendar has two layers. The front layer is your existing calendar. The back layer includes calendars you follow based on your location, likes and interests. Expand your calendar to reveal the back layer of events with just a pinch or tap.
Credit: upto.com

That sounds neat. And since I have an Android phone, the option to place a widget on my home screen is handy. Mostly, I’m excited that it offers a few handy features that Sunrise and Google Now do, like following the calendars for my favourite sports teams, other public calendars available on the web, and it supports at least Google, Outlook (I’m hoping that means Office 365 and not Outlook.com), Facebook Events, and allegedly “any other calendar that syncs with your phone.” That’s vague, but leaves the possibilities endless.

While UpTo has not built a desktop version of their software, a Chrome plugin may suffice in the meantime.

One thing I’m concerned about is that the app’s screenshots haven’t been updated in well over a year. Consistency in design is great, because I don’t want to have to re-learn the interface over and over again, but I really hope they’ve been improving and tweaking the service since the last Android app update in February 2015, and the iOS app was last updated January 2015. Another down side is that I can’t figure out the business model, so the future doesn’t look terribly bright.

Wave

I must say that Wave looks very promising. There are multiple calendar views, which means no matter how you want to view your day/week/month, you should have the ability to do that. It syncs with Google, Exchange, Outlook (online?), and Facebook calendar, lets you colour code events (very important for my life and workflow), add travel time (handy!), and a design that is reminiscent of something we just added to the calendar view on a mobile app we built for one of our clients.

Credit: wavecalendarapp.com

I don’t have an Apple Watch or Android Wear device at the moment, but Wave supports both platform. What it doesn’t feature, unfortunately, is a desktop or web version of any kind. That’s not a deal killer, but it is disappointing. On the other hand, the Android app was last updated August 2015, which is a full 6 months more recently than UpTo. The iOS app was most recently updated in March 2016.

Wave does feature in-app purchases for features, so at least there’s a business model. The app itself is free, but it appears they may charge for access to some event calendars, like sports tournaments and such, based on the App Store’s listings. It also features embedded maps which, paired with adding travel time, should make being late for any events a thing of the past.

Side note: There’s also a Wave Scheduler app, which is supposed to collect other people’s available times for meetings and book the meeting for the time slot everyone is available at. That’s a nice companion app, and also free.

Any.do Cal

Any.do is a very popular to-do list app. I had no idea they also built a calendar app, so I was surprised to come across Any.do Cal in my search for a Sunrise replacement.

Credit: Any.do

Cal has a beautiful design. It’s elegant, features embedded maps as per my ideal wish list, and pulls in profile photos from Facebook for your friends’ birthdays. Of course it has tight integration with Any.do, which I’m not using right now, but I’m willing to switch if I feel Cal is the best fit for me.

Cal also has an Android widget that looks very clean and informative. One thing I don’t like is that the only view is a daily view — no weekly or monthly views. Sunrise’s default view was daily, but it was easy to switch to others. On the plus side, Cal was most recently updated in Feburary 2016 for Android, but not since April 2015 for iOS. No desktop apps or web version to speak of, though I’m not that surprised considering this is likely an offshoot of Any.do’s core business (the to-do list app).

It is a pretty sparse app, so there isn’t much to write.

So, what am I to do? I think my first course of action is to try out Wave. It’s been updated the most recently, seems to have a business model in mind, and matches with the way I like to work the most. If people want me to, I would be happy to let everyone know my experience in a month or two.

Happy calendaring!

Derek Silva