The Best iPhone Calendar App

So you are looking for a replacement to Apple’s own calendar app on your iPhone. Want to see and update your schedule quickly with more information available in more straightforward ways. Or are you looking for more powerful features that may help you keep organized in all new ways?

Here’s a biased look at our new app from someone that has been in and studied this market for over 12 years. A lot of what gets hyped out there has been around for a while, and might not have as many features or be as solid as you might think. And might not be worth the cost.

Ulti-Planner Calendar

New for 2023, Ulti-Planner is a culmination of over 5 years and 1200 new development hours to produce what we think is the new standard in iOS scheduling. Based on our well established calendar code that has powered our other very popular and best selling calendar apps, Extreme Agenda and The Grid, this new app has been completely redone from the ground up to keep the core, but clean up everything to be more intuitive, fast, lightweight and reliable. This new codebase allows us to add great new features and iterate much faster, as should be evident by our adding so much including Contacts only 2 months after initial release.

App Customization

Ulti-Planner prides itself on being one of the most customizable calendars out there. We want you to feel at home with the look so have both light and dark themes in a variety of colors, or you can change to any of a bunch of solid background colors to change the look entirely. We even help you change some of the options in a handy onboarding screen when you first run the app.

Month Display Customization

The month view also can be displayed in a large variety of formats. Are you an icon person? Set your events or calendars to be represented by an icon and show those on the calendar with premium. How about seeing text? We have 3 different formats for that in 4 text sizes. Are Birthdays Important? We can show you pictures of your closest friends and family. Something simpler? How about time bars or just colored dots.

This month view is the workhorse of the application, and is FREE to use by everyone. And you can pull up or down on it to see your month in full screen, or a week strip with room for much more daily information.

Custom Filters

And what’s even more cool is you can set up custom filters to instantly show just specific information in any of the different view types mentioned above. Want icons for your kid’s calendar, but a time bar and text for your 3 work calendars? No problem.

The Staples of a Modern Calendar

And thats just for starters. Once you upgrade to Premium you can add staples of the modern calendar like 3 more powerful calendars views, Natural Language event creation, A full Reminders screen and integrated reminders in your calendar, a full featured Contacts screen, #hashtags for icons and filtering, and even weather.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. We have so many more customizations and features baked in that you will feel right at home, even with the basic version, which was designed to be fully usable without nagging you to upgrade. The card based UI, global search, templates, drag-n-drop, widgets, meeting support, and handy event and reminder sub-lists are just some of the other features you will find and fall in love with right away.

But don’t take our word for it. Please give it a try, and see if it has what it takes to become your new goto calendar .

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id1476479361

Thank you.

Power Tips for Ulti-Planner

We have been running a fun daily “Tip of the day” feature on our Twitter account for @ultiplanner, and we thought it would be good idea to bring them over here as well for easy access. Make sure you check out both places as more will be added.

Tip of the day: Slide up on the main month calendar to turn it into a week strip view, slide down to make the month full screen.

Tip of the day: Find the “custom filter” button at the end of the tab list of filters (shown with main filter button in bottom toolbar). Now create a powerful filter to easily access another set of data, filtered by tags, calendars, participants and with its own look.

Tip of the day: Try out the embedded list feature to quickly add and update lists in your schedule items. On the card view of an event or reminder hit the “List” button to make shopping, todo, or other checklists that will get saved right in the notes.

Tip of the day: Use an app like @launchcenterpro with the “ultiplanner:” app url to quickly open our app. “ultiplanner://newevent” and “ultiplanner://newreminder” will try to jump to item creation. We’d love requests for what else you’d like added!

Tip of the day: Cut-Copy-Paste functionality is built right in. Sliding left (or holding) will expose menus with “more” that have copy and move choices for that item. Select it and the item will be remembered, and then tap-n-hold on headers or month days to expose “paste”.

Tip of the day: If you hold on the app icon when outside the app, it has shortcuts to add an event or a reminder built in to the menu that pops up.

Tip of the day: On the month and week and timeline views, if you tap and hold on an event or reminder you can drag it to another day to move it. Drag-n-Drop!!!

Tip of the day: Hashtags can be added to any event or reminder from the Card View, and will be stored in the notes of that item. The interface remembers already used tags for quick re-entry. You can then assign icons to hashtags in Settings, and use them in custom filters!

Tip of the day: To delete your completed reminders, in a list or view hit the edit button , and it will appear at bottom of the screen.

Tip of the day: You can use the jump (arrow in box) button to jump to a new date on the view. Holding “Today” will have same effect, especially on month view where room is limited.

Tip of the day: Tap-n-hold is powerful in a lot of places. Month days, Agenda List headers and items, Block Week headers, Timeline Day time slots all will show you helpful popup menus.

Tip of the day: When using the quick entry screen, if you start typing something that matches a saved template, a type ahead list will show allowing you to select it.

Tip of the day: You can click on the weather icon in upper right of days to see more weather information.

Tip of the day: It is easy to convert an event to a reminder and vice versa, you can pull up on a card view to expose more options and the button in lower right will do this. It also is available in some sub menus of each type.

Tip of the day: Keywords are added under ‘Icons’ in Settings with the +. They can be used to assign an Icon to any item who’s title contains that keyword. They can then be further used in custom filters the same as how a #hashtag works.

Tip of the day: You can tap-n-hold on a custom filter in the filter bar to edit it.

Tip of the day: Create an event or reminder template from an existing item(create one temporarily?). Then choose ‘Save as Template’ from the More menu of the item. Main fields will be remembered. And add ** to the title to be prompted to fill in the blank when using it from +.

The Power in Ulti-Planner

So what features can not be ignored in the all new Ulti-Planner. Well, where do I start.

Note that some of these advanced features may only be available in the Premium version. So give that free trial a try to give all this power a test drive.

Card Interface

By now we’ve all gotten used to the awesome interfaces built around cards that pop up from the bottom to show you the information you need quickly and clearly. Well, we have brought this to the calendar as well. A card will pop up to show you information on your item, with popular options of what you can do with them, including tying an icon directly to that event. If you swipe the card up further more information and options will be shown including a way to get to Apple’s details.

Hashtags

Everybody is familiar with the advantages of having #hashtags available. Well we have built an engine that can detect and add hashtags to the notes fields of your events and reminders. You can then use them to do advanced filtering, sorting, and adding of Icons.

And specialty keywords can also be added in Settings that work much in the same way. Icons can be assigned and they can be used for filtering later. So if you have a bunch of generated events in your calendar that all happen to have one keyword( like ‘scrum’ or ‘volleyball’), you can setup a filter in order to only view these items.

Custom Filters

Don’t miss this amazing feature. On every calendar view is a filter button that you can toggle on and off. By default it will show all of the individual calendars you are using, as well as a special Birthday filter. But the real power of this comes in if you scroll the filter tabs to the end to find where you can add custom filters.

A custom filter allows you to basically create a specific view of your calendar, with filters by calendars, lists, hashtags and keywords, and participants. A calendar type can be specified for this filter, so if you normally like calendar text, but for this you would rather see an Icon and Time Bar view, you can do that. This is a game changer for how you use your calendar.

The filter toggling has been specifically designed so it will remember the last filter you have selected. So if you usually switch between two sets of information, the toggle will jump right into your regular or custom filter with one press.

Reminders

We have spent a bunch of time making Reminders a lot more flexible so they can be organized in a lot of ways, including custom views, and can continue to be molded into the way you want to use them, whether it be setting up a custom system like GTD or your own.

Embedded Lists

Embedded lists have been brought over from Extreme Agenda to allow you to essentially make any event or reminder into a list that is managed more simply and noted in the notes of your item. Try it out using the button in the card view and see just how powerful adding a todo or shopping list to an event can really be.

Widgets

A good calendar app needs to be able to show your data at a glance with all the right information. So we decided that we needed to ship Ulti-Planner with some really nice clean widgets that can show you your data with icons and colors just like you’d see in the app. It even uses the theming of the app for title coloring.

Accessibility

The new code in Ulti-Planner meant I was handling the UI much better, and allowed me to start to give a much better experience with accessibility features. So it allows for better voiceover and touch options, and we hope to continue to improve on this as we go along.

Welcome

These are just some of the advancements we have made in Ulti-Planner. If you haven’t been using our innovative products in the past, we hope you are in for a few surprises and increased productivity. If you have you should expect to find a great set of powerful features as you’d expect, and know we will continue to add more power and flexibility.

Ulti-Planner

We’d like to introduce you to Ulti-Planner, our new flagship product at Birdsoft. It is the end result of over 5 years of work and over 1200 hours of new development. Which doesn’t include the thousands more hours that have gone into our legacy calendar and productivity apps that are at its foundation.

Not Extreme Agenda 10.0, yet.

What is the idea behind it? Well, it obviously has its roots in our expertise in productivity apps, and more specifically Extreme Agenda. Let’s call it an extension of that. But Extreme Agenda for iOS was started in 2009, so a lot of that App is based on ideas and code that are over 13 years old (which in turn was based on the Windows Mobile version that was even older). iOS has grown as a platform and I’ve grown as a developer since the early days. So I had to decide if I wanted to keep painfully band-aiding that legacy code forever, or do a clean break and rebuild almost completely from scratch to have more modern, clean, and flexible code that will make it enjoyable again to expand on and be much more future-proof.

But if I was going to do this, I wanted to have creative freedom to really make it in a new way, and just starting it as “Extreme Agenda 10.0” still handcuffed me in several ways to use or deal with some of the issues that I wanted to get away from. Too much of that code would have had to come along. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the good parts did, but I wanted them only if they made sense. And even most of those good parts got rewritten.

I admit, I started down the road to rewrite the existing EA code first, it just didn’t feel right…

And if I really want to get back to this being my main thing I had to make it something I really looked forward to jumping into all the time and more importantly to be viable in a business sense. Extreme Agenda has baggage in that Apple almost forces a new app listing to do a “paid upgrade”. Or switching an app that has only even been a paid app at a premium price to a free app with purchases/subscriptions just adds a whole can of worms. Compounding that issue is the secondary versions of the app that upgrade to the full version, like Extreme Week, as they only add to the confusion.

Business

To make a productivity app viable as a business, I have to try to have my premium products go after a premium market. With my Grid calendar app, I put out a lightweight(for the time) calendar app with a lot of great features and a cool design. I have always been proud that so many thousands of people thought that was enough, they just wanted a cool lightweight calendar with calendar text. So Ulti-Planner will in a way replace that. The basic version feels like a souped up version of that app. But then that equation didn’t translate into sales even at a low upgrade price so the Grid’s development never really paid for itself. So I need to convert and/or reestablish a great base like that, and have a better value proposition and better ways to express that value. I have to find ways to have more of the people that use and love my products for years help support further development. I need to replace some of the simple of Grid, and at the same time all of the power of Extreme Agenda, in one package.

The Code, so good…

The codebase of this app is something I’m very proud of. It actually started as a suite of apps that are in one codebase, so a Contacts and List app are right there needing to be finished up and incorporated too. Uniformity in design and modularity in execution.

You’ll also notice that these apps are super lightweight and super fast. The goal was to build it to stay under 10mb as an app, and open instantly. Quick install and quick launch. And they are built to use a lot of the same UX/UI choices of the apps that you use from Apple all the time, but with a touch of something extra. So they should be super fast, super intuitive, super sexy, and ultimately super powerful once you continue to discover what’s under the hood in the advanced features.

This code has been in development for over 5 years, so has been thoroughly vetted in that time. I have used it as a daily driver for over 4 years now, and have had it in beta for much longer than would normally happen. So the app is very solid from release. And in that time I’ve allowed the scope to run away from me. The calendar and reminders basically have feature parity with Extrema Agenda and then it adds so many more new features that the new code affords. It is a mature product from the get go.

And yes, one of the reasons I ultimately decided on this route is so that eventually this Engine can be used to build that elusive Extreme Agenda 10. Having it all in one project meant that right away I built an internal target that is a tab based app, with each of the Apps in a tab. Obviously that alone won’t get me to what I want to do with EA10, but it’s a beautiful foundation to build on. I’ll have to figure out those other questions about how to handle EA10 when I get there. Right now grinding Ulti-Planner is the goal.

Competition

We watch the competition, and we wouldn’t claim that this is a “best-in-class” app without knowing what’s out there. IT IS BEST-In-CLASS! We have created a blend of the right features in the right package that you can stack up with any of the established leaders in each product category, and come out feeling ahead. And our price point for the planner still generally falls under the price these other premium products are trying to get for one app. Usually “way” under them.

We encourage you to see for yourself.

History

So Ulti-Planner was my original Windows Mobile planner way back starting in about 2004. So it pre-dates the widely successful Extreme Agenda, and happened to have a lot of the same DNA, as all my apps do as they evolve. It featured multiple calendar views and tasks along with tons of customizations, a recipe we haven’t given up on.

We have been doing mobile calendars/organizers for 20 years!! So hopefully we can demonstrate just how far we’ve come in the game…

Thank You

So there is the idea behind this overly ambitious project. I wanted to get back to the roots of what our passion is at Birdsoft. And I feel like the market is finally to the point where it can recognize and support premium level apps. I’d like to thank all of the customers that have supported Birdsoft over the years, and welcome any new users that want to see just what we are about…

Any feedback is always welcome.

Ulti-Planner.

Your calendar evolved.

QuickNine Golf Scorecard

Well, we finally got out one of our two apps that we have had in the works for a long time. This one was hard to get the last bits in place, because when we were testing it, we were also golfing, and well… we like golfing.

The quick story is, I wrote the “big sister” of QuickNine back in the early 2000s on Windows Mobile. FairwayWatch had a lot of the same bells and whistles like quick score entry, stat tracking, GPS range finder, etc… that QuickNine now has. You’ll see some of the natural inheritance that came from the original UI…

Well, when the pandemic hit I, like thousands of others, got back into golf pretty heavily to stay in shape, and get outside, and easily social distance. So I went to the AppStore to look for an app that could help me keep track of my scoring and progression and hopefully do some GPS distancing and planning as well. But everything I looked at was either very quickly thrown together by a hobbyist with very few features, or was very well backed but either had a clunky confusing interface or required an online account and massive data collection in order to use it. Or Both. And they had price tags in the $30-100/year range to top it all off.

So I did what I do, and wrote an app.

I think you will see that for a 1.0 version, I have it pretty dialed in with most of the features you will need. Having tons of experience in this space before and like 15 years experience in the power that iOS has, I was able to create something that I’m really proud of, and that can be the basis for a bunch of other cooler stuff in the future. Yeah, we get a Watch version done right is probably really needed. Better Stats, shot tracking, club selection; I think these are all cool things, but are also things that need to be done right or they really get in the way of just letting you golf!!

So give the app a try and see what you think. The 14 Day free trial let’s you do all the Rangefinder and mapping as well as a bunch of advanced scoring, so try it out completely and let us know what you would like to see. Or use the Scorecard for FREE if that’s all you need.

http://qnineapp.bsft.co

Fall 2021

Quick little update…

We have spent the last few weeks doing some more cleanup on our apps in the AppStore that needed some attention.

In the last few weeks SwimTrack and MapPlan have gotten bumps in code to handle current devices and the newest iOS much better and/or fixed a few bugs that have lingered.

We also spent considerable time to get Billing Hours up to date. It was working well, as we use it to manage our own time and invoices, but it needed to be modernized like the rest of the apps have been. And we have it ready for you to continue to use for your tracking needs.

Next up we have plans to finally get to and release our “BIG PROJECT” that is over 4 years and over 500 hours in the making, out to you in some form or another. It has been in use in beta in various forms for a long time, and we think it is just too good, that we might have to lower our grand expectations and cut off the feature creep and just get it out there, as it is superior in a lot of ways to everything in its class already, and should replace apps in our arsenal that you have all been so faithful to for so many years…

So hopefully you will see that, and a few more upgrades, and possibly another new app that I’ve also had 90% done for about 2 years, that I need to just release and iterate instead of churning on for so long without a product to show.

Thanks for continuing to follow us…

PokerTimer 3.0

The last few months we have been digging into our archives and cleaning up some long running titles in our collection. Apple forced our hand and threatened AppStore removal if we didn’t update a couple of them(that were working just fine), but I get it and I have started to do what is necessary to get them working better on new devices and try to make them as future proof as possible. Most of them have required some major work as a majority of the code in some of these apps was originally written in 2008-2010, so yeah, it’s amazing they still work as well as they do…

You’ll notice The Grid and All-In Poker have gotten new updates. We have updates coming for TriPeaks and the entire Extreme Agenda line as well.

But the last 2 weeks were spent taking a brush to PokerTimer. This is one of our most downloaded apps to this day, and the original 2010 design still looks great and just works for a clean efficient way to run a poker tournament. But it needed some attention, and it got it. The whole architecture was rewritten along with how the main screen does layouts dynamically for various screen sizes.

We took special care not to change the overall look, we still think it looks way better than a lot of the over busy app competitors. But we carefully added the most requested features and modernized a few of the existing ones so that it has some of the bells and whistles you might really want, but not by sacrificing on simplicity just to get them in there.

New features like showing the next blinds is available to all users, and a handy hand timer and the chip color display for Pro users have been asked for and received.

And features like the ability to share and use the PokerTimer for Mac ‘Blind files’ through email, and the handling of the Custom Sound Option in Pro by just clicking on .wav files in Mail or Files and allowing you to remove it in settings just make it all easier.

And we’ve spent some time on the sound system, so sounds should play more consistently, and added some ticking countdowns, a 1 minute warning and even speech announcements(in Pro).

So we hope we’ve covered most of what was on your wishlist, and made it solid for another 10 years. It now should be easier to add a few more ideas we have for it as well.

Enjoy your tournaments, and let us know if it works well now having the new features when you need them, but getting out of the way too so you can just play some poker….

Thanks.

http://pokertimer.co

Epic vs Apple

So I’ve been reading a lot on the opinions of what Epic has done to challenge the monopoly of Apple on the AppStore. And there are a lot of differing opinions, a lot from very narrow ways of looking at things.

For some context, Epic added a way to buy InApp Purchases at a discount using their own payment services in their hugely successful Fortnite game, circumventing the rule that Apple has in place that you have to use Apple’s purchase system, so they get their 30% cut on everything. Epic did this to blatantly break Apple’s rules so that they would get banned, which they did, and have ammunition to file an already prepared lawsuit, which they did.

I have been frustrated and critical of Apple since the beginning of the AppStore for its “Closed” system. I made as much or more money in the days before the magical iPhone in a much smaller market when I had the freedom to use any and all curated stores and channels and purchasing options as I could engineer(mainly free trials and paid updates) in the Windows Mobile and Palm worlds. I could choose if someones 30% “tax” was worth it to my business.

But now over the years it has been ingrained that this “closed system” is great for your peace of mind, and that Apple does all these extra things of value that they deserve it all. Opinions may vary, but there should be a choice.

The way I see all the mistakes they’ve made in the store, all the rejection hassles for no reason, the encouraging a race to the bottom and wanting “millions of apps” available which drove the quality of the average app down considerably. The horrible search results, the unfair curating practices to play favors, the not allowing trials…. The list goes on and on. Most of us knew that the big problem with the AppStore is they just threw apps into the iTunes media model, and acted like they had done tons and tons of work to create this great experience. They hadn’t. And not starting on a real foundation, we still see the effects of that.

But my biggest gripe right now, is everyone is saying the AppStore is making a safe environment. They aren’t. The review process allows garbage and bad actors that are gaming the system and ripping people off in all the time. And they use that system and their rules to stifle creativity and reject apps that would compete too closely with something they want to do themselves.

Everything that actually makes the system safe can be done without the AppStore. They do it on Mac. Those things are built into the Operating System, not the AppStore. We have to be checked and sign apps. And apps still have to ask whether you can have access to sensitive APIs and data whether it is from the AppStore or not. So regardless of where you get the app, those will be in place.

If you think that that safety is needed, guess what, it will still be there for you to use. There will be nobody there forcing you to get any app not on the AppStore. And obviously it would be in everybody’s best interest if when this happens some parental type controls are put in place to not always allow this in iOS. But now it’s up to you if you trust the company, not Apple.

So just give us a choice.

How is the world going to be that much different if we can get apps another way. The developer can pursue different channels and different marketing and sales models, and if Apple’s store is worth it, we’ll use it too. But then real developers can have options like more direct contact with users, issue refunds ourselves, price freedom, new marketing channels… This list goes on and on too, it lets a business be a business and not depend on following ever changing and restrictive rules that come at a large cost.

So thank you to Epic for finally getting to the point where you can fight this, it had to be somebody with the resources. And yes, they obviously have some ulterior motives in play, but who cares, they are doing what someone has needed to do for a long time. And to get what they ultimately want, they have to bring all of us little guys with them…

2020 and beyond

Another year is underway. And with that a new enthusiasm for what Birdsoft can become.

In 2019 we did some app updates that we hope you appreciated, but we were more busy laying a foundation for the reimagining of some of what we hope to make the centerpiece of Birdsoft going forward.

A new set of products that will capitalize on our years of development experience to bring you something that we are truly proud of, and with a sustainable revenue model that can keep us iterating and improving on our products at a much greater level. A new modern codebase with new innovations baked in will just be the start. And we can’t wait to show it to you soon…

At this point we are approaching 20 years of mobile development… What a fun ride!

Here comes 2019!

For being dialed back on Birdsoft in 2018, we have still managed to sneak in several enhancements to ourproduct line and keep the ball rolling.

We released our first Mac OS app into the App Store!! PokerTimerfor Mac has been very well received. We had so much fun creating it based on our iOS PokerTimer, that itself is quickly approaching250,000 users, we definitely want to do more for Mac OS.

UtiliForms has been upgraded substantially and now contains a very cool Web/Server component that can help track data via the web and an integrated map. We’d love to show you howflexible it is for data collection and what all it can do…

Extreme Agenda got a pretty nice update this year. More importantly, that codebase has gotten some much needed love in a bunch of other directions to use well in to the future.Watch for improvements in 2019 to make this powerhouse of an app even more versatile.

And finally, a ton of work has been done on a new project(s) that we hope to show you in 2019.Thiswillplay a key part in the future of Birdsoft. In fact, with all the work that has went into this, ‘dialed back’ isn’t really correctforus in 2018. We are very excited to take the cover off ofeverything soon and show you that we stillare passionate about making great apps.

Thank you all! Happy 2019!

 

 

P.S. There’s now an Apple Watch or two in the house, not sure what that means yet for our software, but it can’t be bad.