Updated by Dan Price on October 12th, 2016
Calendars in some form have been around for as long as humans have walked the planet. From the ancient Egyptian’s “Sothic Cycle” to the Mayan civilization’s “B’ak’tun” long-count calendar, understanding the passage of time to allow communities to organize events, farmers to monitor agricultural seasons, and religious followers to offer sacrifices to the gods has been a feature of civilizations for all eternity.
While most people in the western world no long make regular sacrifices to the gods, they do still need an effective way to manage appointments, meet deadlines, and remember birthdays and anniversaries.
Here we look at some of the best free calendar apps that are currently available on the Android system.
The most obvious starting point for any list of free calendar apps, Google Calendar comes pre-installed on all Nexus devices and is available from the Play Store for everyone else. If you use Google’s other productivity services (such as Gmail or Keep) this should unquestionably be installed on your device.
Google revamped the app in 2014 to align with Android’s new “Material Design”. It now looks better and works more effectively than ever.
Browsing the calendar from month to month is a simple swipe away, and it can now be set up to automatically pull events, such as hotels reservations, flights, and event tickets directly out of your inbox and add them to your schedule.
Finally, they also added a schedule view, which just shows you a continuous list of upcoming entries, rather than offering a daily or weekly display.
Business Calendar 2 is the successor to the award-winning app, Business Calendar.
Don’t let the name fool you, this calendar is just as appropriate for students, retirees, and everyone else in-between as it is for business people.
The main selling point of the app is its alternative approach to usage and displays. Instead of the typical dropdown menu that gives access to day, week, and month views, the app uses an intuitive swipe and tap approach to navigation.
Business Calendar 2 also introduces some noteworthy improvements over the first edition. They include:
- A task view for managing to-do lists.
- Live search
- Custom event templates and a new dark theme
- New and improved user interface
It also makes use of Android calendar sync, which allows it to synchronize with other popular calendar services like Google Calendar and Exchange.
Cal is hugely popular; however, we feel it only really excels ahead of the competition when used in conjunction with the Any.do task list app.
It certainly looks great thanks to a range of background images and a visual timeline, but its functionality can be confusing at times (for example, the way to navigation between months isn’t immediately obvious).
Given it is developed by the same people as the Any.Do app, it naturally syncs tasks between the two very well, but if you need a full-featured app that you rely on regularly, there are better options out there.
Jorte is another one of the big-hitters in the free calendar world and is one of the most popular downloads in the Play Store.
It stands out from some of its rivals thanks to its cloud-sync service that lets you manage calendars directly from the web. It biggest attraction, however, is its incredible levels of customization. Things like colors, backgrounds, themes, and the size of widgets can all be altered. There is also a store that lets you purchase additional backgrounds and a vast range of icons.
Further features include the ability to download sports teams’ fixture lists, a clickable location that takes you directly to a map app, and a more detailed day-by-day view than Google Calendar offers.
With better widgets than Google Calendar, more colors than Jorte, and easier navigation than Cal, aCalendar is yet other leading contender for the title.
One productivity feature that is particularly useful to power users is the fact that its day and week view both include small monthly views on the same page. This means you can organize yourself more efficiently without the need to constantly hop between different screens. Swiping sideways on the phone allows you to quickly navigate between its monthly, daily and weekly
Swiping sideways on the phone allows you to quickly navigate between its monthly, daily and weekly planners, while flicking up and down moves you through the calendar in increments based on your current planner selection. This feature doesn’t seem quite as smooth as Google Calendar, and unfortunately it lacks the “tap to expand” feature of Business Calendar.
It can also sync photos from your address book for birthdays and anniversaries, and it features NFC sharing for quickly disseminating information between a larger group.
Wave Calendar is one of the most visually pleasing apps on this list.
Just because it looks pretty, it doesn’t mean it comes up short on features. It includes multiple calendar views, integrated event invitations, multi-calendar syncing, and event notifications.
The app also offers three downloadable widgets – one for weather, one for adding attachments to events, and one for adding custom tags to events. Unfortunately, these are paid add-ons, but if you’re a power user they are money well-spent.
Which One is Best?
As with all these types of articles, it’s very difficult to choose one clear winner; it all depends on what you want your calendar app to do for you. I am hugely reliant on the Google suite of services, and as such, I use Google Calendar. There is no denying, however, that some of the other options are more feature-rich and less clunky.
Did we miss one? Do you use one of the apps we discussed? As ever, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know what you perceive to be advantages and disadvantages of our selections in the comments below.