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Using Calendar

In the old days, the only ways to get events on an iPhone’s or iPod touch’s calendar were to type them on the device or to sync the device with iTunes and ask it to copy your events from the computer to the iPhone or iPod touch. Thanks to the cloud-based push synchronization that’s common today, however, the Calendar app is a smarter application than it once was. In this section, I take a look at all the ways you can put life’s events on your iPhone or iPod touch.

Managing many calendars

When you launch the Calendar app, by default you see a page displaying the current month, with the current day highlighted. When you tap the Calendars icon in the top-left corner, you’re whisked to the Calendars screen, where you can switch calendars on and off.

That’s right—much like Mail’s unified inbox, the Calendar app’s unified calendar shows events from all those calendars you’ve enabled. So if you want to view just the events on your Work calendar, enable just that calendar. (A calendar is enabled when it has a check mark next to its name in the Calendars screen.) The Calendars screen also displays any calendars synced from the cloud—from Google, Yahoo, and iCloud, for example. You can turn these calendars off as well. To return to calendar view, tap Done in the top-right corner of the screen.

Viewing events

Calendar is capable of displaying events in three views: Month, Day, and List. They’re laid out like so.

Month

As I mention earlier, when you launch Calendar, you see this month’s calendar by default, with today’s date highlighted in blue. Other days maintain a gray, businesslike appearance. Tap another day, and it adopts the blue box, while the present day gains a deeper gray hue. To return to the current day, tap it (if you’re viewing the current month), or tap the Today button in the bottom-left corner of the screen. To move to the previous or next month, tap the Previous or Next arrow beside the month heading. To scan backward and forward faster, tap and hold one of these arrows.

Any days on the calendar that have events appended to them bear a small black dot below the date. Tap a day with a dot, and the events for that day appear in a list below the calendar (Figure 4.15), each preceded by its start time and a colored dot indicating the calendar to which the event is attached. (Calendars are color-coded.) Tap an event in this list, and you’re taken to the Event screen, which details the name and location of the event, its date, its start and end times, any alerts you’ve created, and any notes you’ve added for the event.

Figure 4.15

Figure 4.15. A day in Month view with two events.

To edit or delete the event, tap the Edit icon in the top-right corner of the screen. Within the Edit screen, tap one of the fields to change its information. (I discuss these fields in “Creating events” later in this chapter.) To delete an event, tap the red Delete Event button at the bottom of the screen; then tap the Delete Event confirmation icon that appears.

Day

Tap the Day view button, and as you’d expect, you see the day laid out in a list, divided into hours. The day of the week and its date appear near the top of the screen. To move to the previous or next day, tap the Previous or Next arrow. To scan backward or forward more quickly, tap and hold the appropriate arrow.

Each event appears as a colored bar (again, each calendar is color-coded, and that coding is reflected here) spanning the time that the event occupies and labeled with the name of the appointment and its location (Figure 4.16). All-day events appear just below the day and date near the top of the screen. Just as you do with events in Month view, tap them to reveal their details; to edit them, tap the Edit button.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16. A day in Day view with two events.

List

List view shows a list of all the events on your calendar, separated by gray date bars. Each gray bar bears the day’s abbreviated name (Fri or Mon, for example) and the month, date, and year of the event. The event’s title appears just below, preceded by its start time and a colored dot indicating its calendar association. Once again, tap an event to view its details. Tap Edit to edit the event or delete it via the Delete Event button (Figure 4.17).

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17. Editing an event.

Creating events

Creating events on the iPhone and iPod touch is simple. Just tap the plus icon in the top-right corner of the screen to produce the Add Event screen, where you’ll find a list of fields:

  • Title, Location. The title of the event appears when you select the event’s date in Month view. Both an event’s title and location appear in the Day-view list, and in List view, you see just the event’s title. As with any other field on the iPod touch or iPhone, just type the entries, and tap Save when you’re done.
  • Starts/Ends/Time Zone. The title is explanation enough. Just tap the Starts/Ends field, and in the resulting Start & End screen, enter a start date and time by using the spinning wheels at the bottom (Figure 4.18). Then tap the Ends field, and dial in an end date and time. If the event lasts all day, tap the All-Day switch to set it to On. Finally, tap the Time Zone field, and in the screen that appears, enter a city within the time zone you want to use (San Francisco for Pacific time, for example).
    Figure 4.18

    Figure 4.18. Set the duration of your event.

  • Repeat. You can create an event that occurs every day, week, 2 weeks, month, or year. This method is a convenient way to remind yourself of your kid’s weekly piano lesson or your own wedding anniversary.
  • Invitees. With iOS 5, you can associate contacts with your events. Just tap Invitees, and in the screen that appears, tap the plus icon to add contacts to your event.
  • Alert. A fat lot of good an electronic calendar does you if you’re not paying attention to the date or time. Tap Alert, and direct the device to sound an alert at a specific time before the event’s start (5, 15, or 30 minutes; 1 or 2 hours; or 1 or 2 days) or on the day of the event.

    You can create two alerts per event—useful when you want to remind yourself of events for the day and need another mental nudge a few minutes before the event occurs. Also, as I mention earlier in the chapter, you can create a default interval for alerts to sound within the Mail, Contacts, Calendars setting.

  • Calendar. Using this command, you can assign the new event to any calendar you have on your device.
  • Availability. Tap this entry to choose to designate yourself as busy or free.
  • URL. Add an associated URL here (such as the Google Maps location of your meeting).
  • Notes. Feel free to type a bit of text to remind yourself exactly why you’re allowing Bob Whosis to dominate your Thursday afternoon.

Syncing events

Your computer and your iPhone or iPod touch have a nice sharing relationship with regard to events. When you create an event on one device, it’s copied to the other, complete with title, location, start and end times, alerts (likely called alarms in your computer’s calendar program), and notes.

As I explain in Chapter 2, iTunes’ Info tab lets you choose the computer-based calendars that you want to sync with the device. If you have an Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo, or iCloud account, calendar events associated with those accounts are pushed to your device (and the device pushes right back those events that you create on it).

Subscribing to a calendar

You can also subscribe to Web-based calendars with your iPhone or iPod touch, which supports both CalDAV and iCal formats. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account.
  2. Tap Other in the Add Account screen.
  3. In the Calendars section of the Other screen, choose either Add CalDAV Account or Add Subscribed Calendar.

    Which option you choose depends on the kind of calendar you want to subscribe to. iCal calendars are generally available to the public and require only that you have a server address in the form example.com/example.ics. CalDAV calendars are server-based; they require you to know the name of the host server and to have a user name and password for that server.

  4. Enter the required information to subscribe to the calendar.
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