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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Calendar

There's no question that the Phone and Contacts apps are integral parts of your mobile-phone experience. I close the chapter with the third biggie: Calendar.

Calendar is very feature-rich and frankly tough to beat, especially for the price. Google synchronizes its online calendars directly with Android phones over the air and completely free of charge. Many of the principles that I outline for Contacts earlier in this chapter apply to the Calendar application; also, the two applications are linked in many ways. (If you jumped directly to this section, I recommend that you read the "Contacts" section before proceeding.)

The concept is simple: You can manage calendar events on the Nexus One itself or on the Web, depending on what suits you. Most people find it easier to enter and manage their calendars on a desktop computer because of the familiar keyboard and large screen. Nexus One syncing is bidirectional, so you can edit in either place, or both, and Google keeps both calendars in sync.

As with Google Contacts, the way you use Google Calendar depends on whether you're starting from scratch or already using it. I cover both methods in the next two sections.

Starting a calendar from scratch

If you're new to Google or have just created a Google account for use with your Nexus One, you should take some time to set up your calendars. Like the phone and contacts, calendars are integral to the Nexus One experience, and having your mobile calendar organized will make you more productive.

Entering calendar events manually

The easiest way to enter calendar events is via the Web interface. Follow these steps on your computer:

  1. Log in to Google Calendar (www.google.com/calendar) from any Web browser.
  2. Click the Create Event link in the top-left corner of the screen (Figure 4.16).
    Figure 4.16

    Figure 4.16 Events are easy to create using the Google Calendar Web interface.

  3. Fill in the fields, and set the options.

    For details, see "Managing events and reminders" later in this chapter.

  4. Click Save.

Importing calendar events

If you already maintain a calendar in iCal or Microsoft Outlook, you can import it into Google Calendar with the handy online import tool (www.google.com/calendar). The only catch is that event information must be in iCal or CSV (Outlook) format. If you're using a calendar program that doesn't export to one of those formats, you need to export the calendar data to a format that Google Calendar can read.

To import calendar data into Google Calendar from a desktop computer, choose Add > Import Calendar; click the Add link in the Other Calendars section in the bottom-left corner of the screen (Figure 4.17); and then browse to the file that you exported from your previous calendar application.

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17 The calendar-import feature is kind of hidden.

If you're new to Google Calendar, now would be a good time to familiarize yourself with the full version on your desktop computer at your own pace. The balance of this chapter focuses primarily on calendars on the Nexus One.

Already using Google Calendar

If you're already using Google Calendar, pat yourself on the back, put your feet up, and maybe even take an afternoon nap. Your calendar events are already on the cloud and may already be synced to your Nexus One!

calendar.jpg Launch the Calendar application on the Nexus One by touching the Calendar icon in the home screen or in the Launcher (see Chapter 2). If the resulting screen looks like Figure 4.18, you're in business: Your calendar is already synced. If it's blank, with no little color bar on the right edge of each date, either you have a very light month planned or your calendar isn't synced (see the "Troubleshooting contacts" section earlier in this chapter; those tips also apply to calendars).

Figure 4.18

Figure 4.18 The Calendar app on the Nexus One.

After you've verified that your Google Calendar data is synced between the cloud and your Nexus One, you're ready to roll. You can view your calendars, create events, and receive reminders.

Viewing a calendar

People most commonly use Google Calendar simply to view a calendar. About 90 percent of the calendaring I do on my phone is checking what's coming up today, this week, and this month. Usually, when a friend asks something like "Do you want to catch Furthur on May 10 at the Mann?", I'll whip out my phone, fire up Calendar, and zoom to that date.

Pressing the Menu button while you're in the Calendar app gives you options to view a day, week, or month at a time (Figure 4.19). Month view can get kind of cramped on the Nexus One's small screen, but luckily, touching a day switches you to day view, where you can read the details about events.

Figure 4.19

Figure 4.19 The Calendar in month view with menu options exposed.

Using multiple calendars

Your calendar is very important because it allows you to make meetings and your kid's swimming lesson on time—but that's only the beginning. Google also allows you to create and maintain multiple calendars for things like clubs, groups, and sports leagues that you're involved in. One amazingly useful feature lets you view your significant other's calendar. Just have him or her set up a Google calendar and then click Add a Friend's Calendar in the Other Calendars section (refer to Figure 4.16 earlier in this chapter).

Also, you can sign up for an assortment of public calendars from your computer by choosing Add > Browse Interesting Calendars (Figure 4.20). Calendars for everything from U.S. to international holidays and fun things like phases of the moon are accessible from the Google Calendar Web interface.

Figure 4.20

Figure 4.20 Some of the many free (and interesting!) Google calendars that are available.

You can control which calendars you see on the Nexus One by pressing the Menu button and then touching More > My Calendars. The resulting My Calendars screen (Figure 4.21) allows you to toggle the display of calendars by checking and clearing check boxes to the left of those calendars' names. A green check means that a calendar is being displayed on your phone; a gray check means that it isn't being displayed (as weird as that sounds).

Figure 4.21

Figure 4.21 My Calendars allows you to select which calendars to view.

You can add and delete calendars by pressing the Menu button while you're in the My Calendars screen. You'll see two buttons at the bottom of the screen for—what else?—adding and removing calendars. Didn't I tell you that this was going to be easy?

Managing events and reminders

When a friend asks whether you're available on a certain day, and you discover that you are by checking your calendar, it's best to create a new event right there on the spot. Sure, it's easy to say that you'll remember the event and put it in your calendar later, but if you're like me, doing that is virtually impossible. If I don't enter an event in my calendar right away, it usually doesn't happen. Taking time to create a new event the minute that it's confirmed will pay off down the road.

You have two primary ways to create events (or appointments, or meetings) on the Nexus One:

  • Touch Calendar > Menu > New Event.
  • Long-press a specific day and time in any of the calendar views (day, week, or month).

Either method brings up the Event Details screen (Figure 4.22). Just complete a few of the whos and whats about the event and then press the Done button (not visible in the figure). The new event immediately appears on your Nexus One's calendar and synchronizes with the desktop version of Google Calendar within a few minutes.

Figure 4.22

Figure 4.22 The Event Details screen allows you to view and edit details.

Reminders are important aspects of the whole event-creation process and therefore worth reviewing. When you add a new event, by default the phone is set to give you a lowly 10-minute reminder, which isn't enough time to make it to the dry cleaner's down the street, let alone to catch a flight. You can set reminders any time you create or edit a calendar event (on the phone or on the Web) as far as a week out, but I usually choose a 2-hour reminder for local events, which allows me enough time for preparation and travel.

event.jpg Reminder icons appear in the status bar and can be expanded to show more detail.

What's the Agenda?

If the day, week, and month views aren't your cup of tea, you're not alone. The month and week views can get cluttered and hard to read pretty quickly if you have more than three events per day (not as hard as it sounds). Fear not, fair reader! Google has a solution for that problem too: the Agenda (Figure 4.23).

Figure 4.23

Figure 4.23 The Agenda list is the most useful Calendar view.

The Agenda is essentially a list of all your upcoming events from all synced calendars, displayed in a nice clean interface. It shows the name of the event, the date(s), location, alarm, URL, repeating status (the circling-arrows icon), and the calendar color. Touch an event in any view to view and edit the event details (Figure 4.24).

Figure 4.24

Figure 4.24 The Agenda's event-details screen.

The Agenda is by far the easiest calendar view to read and use, which is probably why it's the first option you see when you press the Menu button in the Calendar app. You'll use it a lot. I rarely look at the other calendar views because it's so much quicker to flick and scroll through the Agenda.

That wraps up a pretty long chapter about the Nexus One's three core applications: Phone, Contacts, and Calendar. As with anything, you'll get more proficient with use, so it's important to embrace these three core apps and put them to work for you. Time invested in them now will pay off in more free time in the future—or at least in fewer missed meetings.

In Chapter 5, I take a look at three other critical pieces of the Nexus One software: email, messaging, and the Web browser.

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