Google Calendar: complete review (2022)

PROS

  • Available on all popular operating systems
  • Attach any number of files to events
  • Integrates with Google Tasks
  • Create goals
  • Connects to almost any calendar
  • Has a recycle bin

CONS

  • Limited options for events repeating yearly
  • Attachments from Google Drive only

Rating: 9/10

Google Calendar is a free calendar app from Google for tracking your events, tasks, reminders and goals. It has a web app for desktops and mobile versions for iPadOS/iOS and Android. The app looks and feels the same on all these operating systems.

Orientation

The mobile versions of the app have four views, while your web version has six. Your landing page can be any of them, depending on where you left off. For all these views (except the monthly one) you get a calendar on the top left corner of your screen, which you can toggle. It’s a quick way to toggle through the months of the year.

Creating a new event

In Google Calendar, you can create very detailed events with titles, start & end date and time. This is great when you have events spanning over a few days. You can choose the time zone of that event and on the web app, your start and end time can be for different zones.

Repeating events

You can repeat your events and customise the repeat according to a certain number of weeks or months, for example. Google Calendar gives you up to 99 days/weeks/month and years for repeating your events. That is the widest range we have seen in any calendar so far. Your yearly repeats don’t have any options though, which can be a limitation for some.

Once you’re happy with your repeat cycle, you can decide when it ends. It could be on a specific date or after a certain number of cycles. You can set your repeat to end on the 5th of September or after repeating 5 times.

Saving your event to the right calendar

Google Calendar supports multiple calendars. When you have those, you can choose the calendar to save your new event to. It could be a personal, family or work event. Placing the event in the right calendar helps to keep your events organised. It would be great if we could create new calendars in this window.

Invite people

You can invite people to your events. They need to have a Google account, which limits you to Gmail users only. Your guests can also add other people if you allow them. You can add a Google Meet link to your online events. That way it’s easier for anyone to join the video conference from the invitation. It simplifies life, and we love it!

On Android, you can quickly view your schedule when planning an event. This takes you the start date of your event. It’s a useful feature to make sure you’re not planning for a busy time. You can also do this on the web app, so we hope to see this feature in iPadOS/iOS as well.

When you add a location for your event, provided it’s in Google’s database, the app adds a photo of it. If the photo is not there, then you get a boring map image. Whichever you get, you know right away when an event has a location or not. You can then quickly get directions to the location if you don’t know where it is.

Event notifications

Notifications make sure you’re not late for any event. Google Calendar can notify you of an event minutes, hours, days or weeks before to make sure you have ample time to prepare for it. In case one notification is not enough, you can set multiple. On Android, you get more default times than you do on iPad. However, that’s not a problem at all because you can customise your notifications and even receive them as an email.

Colours can make your event stand out from the crowd, it helps for important events.

Notes

You can add notes to your events. On the mobile versions, your notes are very basic. On the web version, however, you can format them to make your text bold, italic or underline. You can also add un/numbered lists and insert links. These formatted notes appear on all your devices. We look forward to creating them from mobile devices.

Attachments

If notes are not enough, you can attach any file from your Google Drive. We managed to attach 10 files before we got tired because you can only add one attachment at a time on mobile versions. To work faster, go the web app to add multiple attachments at once.

The cool thing about your attachments in Google Calendar is that you can attach pretty much anything, as long as it’s from your Google Drive: videos, audio files, documents and even zipped files. We hope we’ll be able to add files on our devices or other cloud services. Though for other cloud services, you can just add links to the files.

Visibility

You can set your event visibility to Public, Calendar default or Private. Public means anyone with access to your calendar can see the event. But when on private, only your attendees can see it. On Calendar default, the event uses the general visibility settings for your calendar.

Show as Available or Busy. When your event shows as busy, that slot in your calendar is no longer available for other people to invite you to events. But when you mark your event as available, people can still invite you to their events during that time. By default every event you create shows as busy, which makes sense.

Find a time, on the web, you can click on the time you want to quickly change the event start and end time. You can also increase the duration by dragging from the end time of the event. You can view Today, move to Previous day/week or Next day/week, Choose between Day or Week views. You can also select All guests, Required guests or No guests

Save your event when you are done. If your event has an attachment, you can update sharing options to share with:

  • Recipients only
  • Anyone with the link
  • Continue without sharing

You can also allow them to View, Comment or Edit.

You can Edit, Delete, Duplicate and Copy the event to another calendar when you are signed in to multiple calendars. On the web version, you can also Print, Publish event and Change owner. You can also create a new event by simply tapping any free spot in your calendar.

Creating a task

Google Calendar can double as a task managing app. You can create a task in the app just like you do in Google Tasks. Tasks you add to your Google Calendar automatically appear in Google Tasks and vice versa.

You can mark your tasks as completed and Google Calendar strikes them out to differentiate them from incomplete tasks. Your tasks (to-dos) have the Google Tasks logo, so you can tell them apart from your events.

On the web version, you get Google Tasks on the left, which you can toggle bring it up and manage your tasks from there.

Events vs Reminders in Google Calendar 

In Google Calendar, your events are complex. They usually involve a lot of people and are fixed. For example, you might have a meeting on the 28th of this month from 7-8 am. If you miss the meeting, that’s it. You’ll have to manually reschedule it. The same goes for weddings, parties and doctor’s appointments, etc. Reminders are different. They are those things you need to do, but always forget for some reason. For example, you’re supposed to call Jane to catch up with her, but you’ve forgotten to do it for the past week. You can set a reminder for tomorrow and your reminder will get pushed forward until you call her and mark your reminder as done. A reminder is not a fixed event, so you can always do it tomorrow or the next day.

Create Reminders 

You can create a Reminder in Google Calendar, set a date and time it. You can choose the calendar you want for your reminder. Your reminders can repeat: 

  • Every day
  • Every week
  • Every month
  • Every year and you can customise your repeats as you do with your events. 

Setting Goals

You can only create goals on the mobile version of Google Calendar. After you create a goal, it will show up on the web version.

You can set goals for different aspects of your life in Google Calendar: 

  • Exercise 
  • Build a skill
  • Friends and Family 
  • Me time 
  • Organise my life 

It doesn’t matter what goal you choose, the options you get are similar for all the goals in the app. You can choose how often you want to do your goal:

  • Once or twice a month 
  • Once, twice, 3- 5 times a week
  • Every day 

You can’t customize these, you are limited to the options they offer you. But they are enough, aren’t they? You then have to decide how long you want to spend on that goal. The time options depend on how often you do the goal you’ve chosen. The less frequent, the longer each session can be. If you do something once a month you can do it for up to the whole day for example. It makes sense, doesn’t it. When you do it every day, 2hrs is the maximum amount of time you can spend on it. 

Let’s hope in the future they can allow us to customise the duration of each session. I know when I was a medical student, I needed at least 4 hrs of study a day, 2 hrs (the maximum for everyday goals) was simply not enough. Customising the duration of each session can help us personalise our goals and make them work for us.

You can decide the best time for you to work towards your goal:  

  • Morning 
  • Afternoon 
  • Evening 
  • Anytime 

You can choose to get notified before it’s time to complete the day’s goal. You can also turn on Smart notifications to help you prepare and track your progress. A good goal has a time frame. You might want to study for two hours every day for a week or month. That makes it easier to evaluate your progress, especially if you have targets to meet. In that way, this feature is a bit incomplete in Google Calendar. 

Calendar views

Google Calendar has four different views for the iPad and Android, six views on the web version and five views on iPhone.

Schedule view

The Schedule view is available on all your devices. It displays everything in your days as lists. It’s a quick way to find out what your week, month or year looks like. You can toggle the monthly calendar on the iPad, web and iPhone, On Android, you can only toggle in portrait mode which is a bit limiting.

Day view

The Day view shows your scheduled items for the day. Scroll to the left or right to see plans for previous days and next days. On Android, you can only toggle your monthly calendar in portrait mode.

Week view 

The Week view shows your week and its scheduled activities. Your All-day tasks go to the top of the calendar below your dates.  

Month view 

The Month view will show your month at a glance and you can scroll through your months horizontally. Let’s hope they can give us an option for vertical scrolling for those of us that prefer that. On the web version, your plans will be displayed with their time as well. Completed plans will be struck out which differentiates them from incomplete ones.

Year view

You get the Year view only on the web version. You can click on a date to see the plans for the day. You can also click on the plans to manage them.

Custom view

On the web version, you can customise your view, from 2 – 7 days and 2 – 4 weeks.

3 day view

You have a 3 day view on your iPhone

Navigation

You can navigate to the Day view by tapping the dates in the Week view and you can switch between the Day view and Schedule view by tapping on the dates on mobile versions. On the web version, you can tap the date to quickly switch to Day view. This sort of gives Google Calendar a digital planner feel. But unfortunately, once you’ve exited the weekly view, there is no quick way to get back to it. Perhaps, the week numbers on the calendar (top right corner) could allow us to do that in the future.

Calendar widget

Google Calendar has three widgets for your upcoming events and tasks. The Android version has two widgets which you can resize if you want.

Searching your calendar 

You can search through your past and future plans in Google Calendar. Navigating through your search results is very straightforward and you can quickly edit anything you want. On the web, you can choose to search in Active calendars, All calendars or a specific calendar you want. You can also specify What, Who, Where, Doesn’t have and Date to search for exactly what you want.

Choosing what shows

When you have a lot going on in your calendar, it helps to uncheck some items. You can filter what shows on your calendar by ticking the checkboxes for each: 

  • Events 
  • Tasks
  • Reminders
  • Birthdays 
  • Holidays 

Events from Gmail 

You can turn on Add events from Gmail to get your plans from Gmail automatically added to your Google Calendar. These could be flight bookings and meetings. This can be a useful automation system. You can decide the Visibility of those events. Turning off this setting deletes all your previously added events and Gmail will no longer automatically add events to your Google Calendar. 

Recycle bin

Google calendar has a recycle bin on the web version. Your events are permanently deleted after 30 days. Even if you delete your events on the mobile version, you can restore the ones you want from the web version.

Density and colour

You can choose your event colours, text colour and density in Google Calendar. You can choose your colour set, either Morden (with white text) or Classic (with black text). Information density can be Response to your screen or Compact.

Universal settings for Events, Tasks and Reminders

You can save some universal settings for your events, tasks and reminders. For all three, you can choose a default colour for how they’ll look on your Calendar. You have the same colour options for all of them. Colour coding them can help you stay organised and understand what the plans on your calendar mean without even tapping on them. You can set default notifications for your events so you don’t have to do it for every event you create one in the app. You can also choose colours for birthdays and holidays too.

Birthdays and holidays

The birthdays that appear in your Google Calendar are synced with your Gmail contacts. So if you wish to add a birthday to your calendar, you have to update your contact information. You can choose your holidays based on country and your religion. 

Manage accounts

Under Manage accounts, you turn on accounts whose plans you want to see in your calendar. You can also sign into new accounts and remove those you don’t want to see. 

Final thoughts

Google Calendar is great for anyone who’s already invested in the Google ecosystem. If you use Google Docs, Google Tasks, Google Keep and Gmail (to mention a few) adding Google Calendar to your apps will work great for you. Google Calendar can also be a great calendar to add to your Apple Calendar or vice versa. It packs a lot of useful features as long as you don’t mind using a cloud-based calendar for your plans.

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