The pied piper has arrived. The fiddler is on the roof. Swiftly fly the years, one season following another. “When did they...” you might wonder, turning to your smartphone and seeing your Sunrise calendar app quite literally sunsetting into the faded memory of what once was your organized life.
Dramatic? Perhaps. Reality? You bet.
Sunrise was acquired by Microsoft in 2015 and the app has lingered without support or updates, while still being fervently used by a core audience of people who loved the slick UI, natural language scheduling, and more. The Sunrise team itself has moved on to work on the Outlook app (more about that below), and with that move came a decision we’ve all been dreading:
On August 31st, Sunrise officially shut down. It stopped working. This is not a drill.
As they explained: “Unfortunately, as all good stories go, there’s a sad bit to it: we’re not able to support and update Sunrise anymore. No new features. No bug fixes. For us, that’s the definition of a lousy app and it’s not a user experience we want to leave you with.”
Fair enough. So we move on... but to what? We polled some active Sunrise users, and came out with a few features that a good replacement could provide:
- Design: It was the little touches that made it feel approachable, easy to toggle between now/next week/next month and intuitive to create and move events around.
- Great app experience: Since our mobile devices are more or less glued to our hands, having a reliable, easy-to-work-with-on-the-couch app makes all the difference.
- Calendar integration: Having work/home/office/vacation calendars all in one place, without having to share private calendars with group ones.
There’s no shortage of options, so let’s stick with the spirit of Sunrise and take a quick look at the best alternative calendar apps that will keep your schedule on point.
5 Calendar Apps That Aren’t Sunrise (But Are Close Enough)
1. Outlook for iOS & Android
So the Sunrise team moved on to Outlook, with the goal of “bringing the magic of Sunrise to the Outlook apps.” It makes it an intriguing alternative, especially if you’re a long-time Mac user who hasn’t had much exposure to the Microsoft suite of late.
Given that Outlook is primarily an email service, you’ll likely get the best experience if you commit to consolidating your email and calendar into one app. Keep in mind, however, that it is app-only, meaning that you can’t access it via web browser like you would with Gmail.
Outlook will keep your email, calendars, files and contacts in one spot, so it can act as your all-encompassing tool for communicating and scheduling items with people over email. And while it doesn’t have all of the beloved Sunrise features we’ll miss, it has brought over at least one: You can email people your calendar availability, allowing them to easily choose a time for that coffee date or sales call.\
Reviews to read:
2. Google Calendar
Unlike Outlook, Google’s apps for Gmail, Calendar, and Drive do not function in one display. If you’re a calendar purist, this might appeal to you. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t play nicely with its counterparts: You can integrate with Google Maps to add directions to your business trip dinner function and get flight details from Gmail, for example. IFTTT also has hundreds of GCal recipes to choose from.
As a note, Tasks are not integrated into the app, as they are in the web version. The Android app in particular does not have natural language support (although it will auto-suggest), which would allow you to type in “Meet with Amy at 3pm on Thursday” and have it know what that means.
Also, some users find the month view can be limited too. It doesn’t pull in color-coded labels to let you visually know what event type it is, or display how many events are on a given day.
Reviews to read:
Cal is a third-party calendar option that has inherited some of the design flair that you appreciated in Sunrise. Developed by Any.do, it shows you clear views of your day’s chronological appointments and to-dos. It also has a handy birthday calendar feature that allows you to quickly send birthday wishes over social or email.
What it doesn’t have is a weekly view (instead, it is an overview), although you can jump to a monthly look. The Android app has a resizable widget that could be interesting for less context switching. Since the productivity part of the app is dependent on being an Any.do user, if you aren’t using it for your to-do’s, you won’t see all the benefits of the app.
Reviews to read:
The new Kin Calendar, is intriguing. Why? Because it’s actively being developed as a Sunrise replacement. It’s a free calendar that’s currently in public beta for the web app but, according to their team, an iOS beta app is also coming before the end of August (Android/Mac/Windows betas are due later this fall).
It comes with a number of mainstream integrations, including Trello. Active Trello boards are displayed in the calendar sidebar. Each card that has a due date is scheduled as an event in the main calendar view. Add this alongside other incoming color-coded events from Google Calendar, Facebook, Github, or other providers, and scheduling should start to look very sunny indeed.
Kin calendar: Look familiar?
5. When you have to choose sides...
So far we've been looking at calendars that are developing features for both iOS and Android, but sometimes you do have to choose sides. And looking at the vast majority of reviews, it seems there are two calendar apps in particular that users on each side of the iOS/Android divide are finding useful. For iOS, that would be Fantastical 2. For Android, CloudCal.
Both options require purchase to access their full functionality, but for a clean, organized experience that gives you a reliable way to stay on top of your calendar, they might be your answer.
Reviews to read:
Salut Sunrise, Bonjour to Bigger and Better Apps
It’s sad when our best-loved apps are no longer alive and kicking. We may have even shed a few (digital) tears. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop striving for schedule perfection. We may just use our Trello calendars for the time being. [Pro tip: If you’re looking for two-way syncing like Sunrise did, set up a Zap linking Google Calendar and Trello.] Soon, when we’re ready to say goodbye, we’ll move on to find those next great calendar apps to get the most of our busy schedules.
Which calendar app will you try next? Tweet or tell us in the comments!