by Clifford Colby / May 22, 2018
The free Google Calendar app can give you quick access to your upcoming schedule on your Android phone but is capable of so much more -- from setting reminders and creating to-do lists to helping you manage goals.
Customize what you see: Google Calendar gives you a handful of ways to view your upcoming event. Tap the navigation menu in the top-left corner of the app and then tap Schedule to get a visual look (using maps and images) at events ahead, day by day. For more of an hour-by-hour look, choose another view, including Day, 3 Day, Week, and Month. You can also search for an event if you don't see it on your calendar. From the same menu, you can select other items to display, including other calendars you've created and subscribed to and birthdays and holidays you are tracking. You can also set notifications for upcoming events.
For an even quicker glance at your day, you can add a Calendar widget to your home screen to see your schedule for the day or month.
Calendar elements: Beyond just viewing your upcoming events, Google Calendar lets you create Calendar items by tapping the Create + button in the bottom-right corner of the calendar. Among the items you can create are Events, Reminders, and Goals.
Create an event: You can assign an event a title, invite one or more people to your event, set a date and time, add a room or otherwise set a location, add a note or an attachment, and set a reminder time. You can also toggle an all-day switch if the event will run over an entire day or several days or create a repeating event. After you've created an event, you can tap the Edit pencil icon to go and make changes to your event. Via the web, you can also add a video call link to the calendar event that will let attendees join the meeting via a Google Hangouts video call.
Create a reminder: To create a reminder, tap the Create button and then tap Reminder. The app presents a list of common things you may want to be reminded about, such as making a call, sending an email, checking in for a flight, or cancelling a reservation. Tapping any of the suggestions brings up more choices to help you create your reminder. For example, tapping the Email reminder choice displays a list of people you regularly email as well as a list of other choices, including your mom, professor, or students. (If none of the canned Reminder choices seem quite right, you can tap the Reminder choice at the bottom of the list to create your own custom reminder.) Once you've built your reminder, tap Done to set details about the date, time, and frequency of the reminder and then tap Save. Just like events, the reminder will now appear in your calendar, where you can mark it as done.
Create a goal: With the Android version of Google Calendar, you can create goals to help you carve out space to work on things you struggle to make time to work on. To create a goal, tap the Create button in the lower-right corner of the app and then tap Goal. Calendar presents a handful of categories you might want to focus on, such as exercise or organizing your life. Tap a category, and like when you set a reminder, Calendar next displays a list of options, such as running or walking for exercise, and a frequency for the goal. (If you don't find what you'd like to focus on in the list, you can add it by searching for it.) After you set a goal, Calendar will automatically schedule time in your calendar to help you achieve your goal. You can adjust the time Calendar sets for your goals, too.
Works across platforms: In addition to the Android version, Google has a calendar app for iPhone, a Chrome extension, and a web version. The Chrome extension sits in the browser bar, and, with a click, gives you a snapshot of your day's events. You can also scroll down to view upcoming events and tap an event to get taken to the web version of your calendar. Changes sync automatically across platforms.
The web version of Google Calendar offers a few nice perks you can't see in the app. For example, you can display a world clock in the left-hand pane to view the current time in locations around the world. In the pane, you can also view a month-by-month calendar, and lists of the calendars you've created or subscribed to. From here, you can easily toggle your calendars on and off to view them in the main calendar window.
Works with other Google apps: If you let Google manage other parts of your life -- such as through Gmail or Google Keep -- Calendar can tie into those apps, letting you add and manage events across the Google apps. For example, in Gmail, if you create a reminder from an email you've received, back in Calendar, the event will now show up on the day you've set the reminder for. And you have even more options in the web version of Gmail. On the right side of Gmail, click the Calendar icon to view your calendar or create a new event. You can also drag an email over the Tasks icon to create an event you want to track. And then back in Calendar, you can manage your tasks.
Share with others: If you work with a group or have shared family events, you can share your main calendar with others or create a dedicated calendar to share. You can set user privileges so others can add and edit events or just view them.
Day and week views can get packed: The Schedule view does a nice job of displaying upcoming events and tasks. The other views squeeze your calendar items into a tight space, even truncating event names, giving you limited information on your day.
Google Calendar for Android offers a rich set of scheduling tools that helps you manage the events of your life.