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Suggestions for the WP7 Calendar application (warning long, LOTS of good ideas!)

Dec 14

Written by:
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 9:23 PM  RssIcon

Agenday viewI use the Calendar application religiously and I have a few suggestions for the team developing that application.  Please read on for my ideas.  I REALLY hope MS can use some/all of my ideas!

Agenday viewNearly 20 years ago, I bought a paper Day-Timer, which I faithfully used everyday and LOVED it.  Earlier this year, I tried to hyperspace into the 21st century and bought an Apple iPod Touch.  But I wasn't happy with it (you can read all the gory details).

The main focus of the Touch purchase, was to move to an electronic version of my paper day timer.  It would be soooo much easier to use Outlook to enter in information/appointment/etc and just have it sync with the Touch.  And yes, birthdays included!  Finding people should be quick and entering recurring data should be quick too.

Fast forward many months, and I now have a WP7 Focus, and I LOVE it.  I've even figured out a way to sync my Calendar with Outlook (using Google Calendar Sync).  So, right now I'm realistically looking to finally ditch my paper daytimer. 

WHOA THERE NELLY!  Not so fast.

All's not perfect in this new world and I have some suggestions to help smooth this transition over.  I consider myself a bit of a power user for the Calendar application.  I use it, and I depend on it, every day!  Hey, I returned my Touch cause I couldn't DEPEND RELIABLY on the birthdays.  Yes, something as simple as that, and it broke the Touch.

Thankfully, WP7 at least does do Birthdays and Anniversaries faithfully!  The next hurdle here is, the "glance and go" WP7 motto.  At a high level, the Calendar application doesn't display enough USEFUL information.  It DOES display information but not everything in one glance.

Lock Screen

Take for example my Lock Screen screen capture.  Two main things here, first, there's only ONE thing listed at the bottom, and worse, it's a scheduled item for tomorrow, what happened to my All Day events for TODAY?  Second, why is there soooooo much wasted space in the top half?  That space could EASILY be better utilized.  I would highly suggest listing everything on that screen.  Ok, so if it goes off, then let the person scroll one or two more times, just as long as they can see everything due that day and nothing gets missed.

I also have to add at this point, the double wide Tile seems to display the exact same information.  This is good, BUT it should/could be displaying much more information.

Next I would like to contrast/compare the Calendars Day and Agenday Views.

Day View

Please notice that is an example of the same day as the Lock Screen (notice the 4 appointments).  There are really only three KEY pieces of data listed here, but so much space is wasted without displaying my 4 appointment details.  And why are the details taking up two lines, why couldn't it just be on one line (and the wrap if required).  Then, there's soooo much space taken up by times without any appointments.  Do I REALLY need as much space for a 2PM potential appointment as I do for a 2PM appointment?  That space could be shrunk down in my opinion.  I also think the "All day" title could be removed to gain even more screen real estate.  And where are the details about those 4 appointments?  Why aren't they listed here on this page at the top?  I think at least their titles should be shown.

Next I would like to look at the Agenda view.

Agenda View

Ok, to "Glance and Go" for my four appointments details, I actualy had to swipe to goto the Agenda view, and this screen has similar issueas as the Day view, so much potential but so little ACTUAL information displayed.  Why is the date displayed twice?  I believe once would be cool enough. haha  Also, if the All Day event is only for that one day, there's no need to show "1 day" for the duration.  And what is the point of the rectangles on the right?  I think shrinking (or removing) the "All day" title and the "12:00 PM" font a little bit and indenting the details juuuuust a smidgen would deliver the desired results people could actually "Glance and Go" with.  The indentation would be a great way to quickly scan and decipher for the event details.

Those are my suggestions for how the general Calendar looks.  Next I would like to talk about entering individual calendar events.

Agenda View

The one BIG problem I found with entering calendar events (which the Touch suffered as well) was the lack of a dirty flag check upon leaving the entry screen.  When you are entering an event, and you've typed out ALL the details and hit the Back butt........aaaaaaahhhhhhhh you lose EVERYTHING!  DOH!  I believe the Calendar app should do like OneNote and just save it on the way out, forget the little Save button at the bottom, when I Back out, just save.  Bring me to THAT event after data entry so I can delete if I realy didn't want it, but at least my details are saved.  I've lost at least one event a day because of this (and the main reason for looking into the Google Calendar Sync).  By removing the Save and Cancel buttons, you do gain a bit more screen space.

Next, I might have multiple email/calendar accounts, but chances are very good I use one main one.  Does it REALLY make sense to have the Account information as the third most important item on the form?  I don't think so.  The When data should be there IMHO.

Why is each option taking up an entire horizontal line?  The When and How Long could/should fit onto one line IMHO.

Next, choosing a date, time and duration, sounds simple enough right?  Until you start to use it.  With paper daytimers, you use the index, flip to your page and start entering.  Quick, fast.  Entering details here is a bit more cumbersome.  Let me show you why.

Date entry Date entry

First off, the Date entry requires excessive "flicking" to goto the beginning or end of the month.  Not all months are February.  HAHA  ok, small joke there.  Flicking through December to January to........April is quick, but try entring two events for half a month away......ya, grows tiresome quickly eh?  Next, why isn't there a "Today" option listed near the bottom or top of the page?  THAT would be cool!

There is a similar issue with the Time entry.

Time Entry Time Entry Time Entry

Notice how you'll have to excessive flick to change the hours and minutes (changing to the half hour is "excessive" IMHO)?  I think a GREAT addition to this user control would be to allow it to be smarter and flip the minutes and AM/PM as you flick forward/backward.  If you're at noon, and you want to goto 11:30, then you should be able to "tie' the minutes to the hours and spin the minutes and the hours and AM/PM will change with you.  An alternative for the minutes would be to have 00, 15, 30 and 45 buttons displayed above and below the time (appropriately of course).  So in my case above, "00" is displayed, so 15, and 30 and 45 buttons could be displayed as quick access buttons to those times.  Also, since there are only two options for AM/PM, why aren't these just shown?  This simple entry requires TWO taps, why?

Next is the duration.  I have two issues there. 

Duration

Try and enter something as simple a 10 or 15 minute phone call or quick reminder?  Ya, you have to pick Custom (or All day to be lazy but you won't get a reminder) and.......ah, just not worth it.  Again, the pencil and paper are looking quick here.  There should be two user options here (aka two columns), one like you have for quick selection (with additions of 15 and 45 minutes), and another as a spinner, like on the "Choose Time" pickers.  The next thing issue I have is with the "All day" option listed here.  I think this is just wrong.  I believe it should be on the previous page/form.  Yup, front and center!  Just have it as a checkbox between "When" and "How Long" 

Next on the hit list, why are the Notes at the bottom?  Why is something that important delegated to the bottom of the barrel of importance?  Yup, it requires some finger flicks to get to there to enter in additional notes, why isn't that higher up the food chain?  I'm thinking it should be listed at least above Occurs and Status.

  Notes

Next is the Calendar view, I'm really hoping this is an oversight, cause this something I could REALLY see being useful for planning out events with such a small device, being able to pinch zoom on the Calendar View.

 Calendar View

Yup, I would LOVE to be able to pinch in on the 24th to see what's going on there so I can plan where to add my next appointment.  What am I trying to do here?  I'm trying to plan which Friday is good.  Or maybe I'm trying to decide which of two days to hold that board meeting (ok, a bit of a stretch but maybe some day LOL).  Anyways, being able to pinch zoom here is critical IMHO to starting with a high level10,000" view then diving down where needed, then bouncing backup and diving down again.  Using the current "click on that day" then hit the back button takes too many brain transitions to be valuable.  I use this option with my paper day timer all the time!  Flip to one day, then quickly turn the page, flip back, forward, back, you get the idea.

I like to plug in my phone at work to my computer, lets me charge it but also gives me a snapshot into my calen.....oh wait, hold on, have to unlock the screen.  See my problem here?  It would be cool if I could disable the screen lock and display the calendar all the time when I'm plugged into USB/Zune/computer.

I saw a while back, a presentation where the person had an I'm Late button for an event.   Similarly, I would LOVE to have one button to push events to the next day.  So for example if I didn't get to do something today, when I edit an event, I would love to see a "Push Ahead" button/Application Bar button option.  Right now I have to edit the date and flip it one day forward.  Bit of a pain, five taps actually.

And in the same vein, why is there an Edit button at the bottom in the Application Bar?  Ok, ok, facetious comment, I know WHY it's there, but why can't someone just click anywhere in the event to edit?  I've found myself doing that over and over expectig to open that option to edit, only having to do one more tap to the Edit button at the bottom.

Next is a real serious question, how exactly DO YOU search for events?  No, really, how DO you do it?  Try hitting the Search button in the Calendar.......you goto Bing and you search the web.  DOH!  Not where I expect to find my private events (get your mind out of the gutter haha).  But seriously, I entered an event, completely lost track of the date, and it took me a while to find it again and the Search was useless for me.  It should be the life-saver.

When I'm done an event, it would be AWESOME to have a "Done" checkbox, or something equivalent so it's not included anymore in the tiles/Lock Screen.  I may not want to delete it (like recurring birthdays LOL) but I do want to "Hide" it.

At midnight of every day I have "All day" events, my phone pings me to tell me I have upcoming things to do that day.  GGGGGRREEEAAAATTTT!  But you know what would be even greater?  Having a checkbox I can click once on the main page to NOT ping me and have an over all Calendar Settings option which sets this default option.

WOW, that's a lot of "suggestions."  No, I'm not looking to try for my own version of "WP7 was my idea."  No, I'm just looking to "tweak" the calendar app to help make me work more efficiently and I think these tweaks will help everyone all around!  I hope you agree! 

Now that's out of my OneNote Calendar notes, it's time to grab a coffee and get coding! 

 

Resources:

Day-Timer.ca

PCHenry.com: It's time I came out of the closet, I'm now using an Apple product!

PCHenry.com: So long friend, it was nice while it lasted (iPod Touch I mean)

PCHenry.com: YAHOOOOOO!!! I FINALLY got my WP7 Samsung Focus!!!!

Google.com: Google Calendar Sync

PCHenry.com: Looks like iPod Touch/iPhone still has work to do on Calendaring functionality, too bad too

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6 comment(s) so far...


Re: Suggestions for the WP7 Calendar application (warning long, LOTS of good ideas!)

Just got the WP7 Focus last week. I second most of your suggestions and would like to add one: setting up custom recurring events. In my Palm Centro I have one event that recurs every 10 days, and another every 7 weeks. Haven't figured out how to replicate this in WP7. Thanks for an interesting read!

By Debbie on   Saturday, January 22, 2011 11:35 AM

Re: Suggestions for the WP7 Calendar application (warning long, LOTS of good ideas!)

Thank you for reading and replying. I'll write more on full keyboard, I'm still getting used to SIP. :) Have a good day, kudos on focus and I agree on entering custom recurring events.

By phenry on   Saturday, January 22, 2011 11:37 AM

Re: Suggestions for the WP7 Calendar application (warning long, LOTS of good ideas!)

I'm glad you found and agree with my Calendar comments Debbie! Very cool. I HOPE Microsoft can helps us both out with using the Calendaring application. Have a good week!

By phenry on   Sunday, January 23, 2011 3:56 PM
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Re: Suggestions for the WP7 Calendar application (warning long, LOTS of good ideas!)

I've just released a new WP7 appplication called My Daily Planner. It has all the features of the existing calendar and includes TO-DO tasks among other things. After reading you suggestions and comments above I believe I've addressed just about all of them.
If anyone gets time I have a free version thats listed under Apps->Productivity that I'd love to hear your feedback on.

wp7applist.com/en-US/app/17695/my-daily-planner

By troy dedmon on   Thursday, May 26, 2011 7:15 PM
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Re: Suggestions for the WP7 Calendar application (warning long, LOTS of good ideas!)

Look at this: myNextDays in the zune marketplace

By Krasscheck on   Monday, October 17, 2011 12:18 PM
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Re: Suggestions for the WP7 Calendar application (warning long, LOTS of good ideas!)

Hello Krasscheck, I looked at the app on the Marketplace, and it looks very promising! Unfortunately there's no trial at this time. Any chance of you adding one? I won't risk much when it comes to my calendar, as I'm sure a lot of other people are like that too. I would love to give the app a trial spin. Thanks for finding this blog and leaving a comment, have a good weekend!

By Peter Henry on   Thursday, October 20, 2011 2:45 PM

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