Fantastical Renewal Coming Up. Let's Review the Pros and Cons (Spoiler: I'm 90% sure I'm renewing)

Like many of you, I like (?) to review my subscriptions at various times throughout the year to make sure I’m maximizing value on the apps I use.

My Fantastical sub is up in about 3 weeks. I’m fairly certain I’ll be renewing, but I wanted to work through this exercise with fellow app nerds for a couple of reasons.

  1. You may point something out I hadn’t thought of or considered
  2. I may point something out to a potential/existing calendar user that will aid them in their own decision when the time comes.

So…keeping in mind I’ve tried most calendar apps and my main two considerations are Fantastical and Timepage…

Reasons to Consider Leaving

  • The $50 (CAD) a year for a calendar app seems like a lofty price. Especially given the fact I have a “grandfathered” account with Moleskine Timepage, making that app free.
  • While minor, features in TimePage like “Daily Review” are quite handy. I can get a notification at a set time each day summarizing all my upcoming appointments/meetings. Pretty handy and the app is a nice visual change from Fantastical.
  • The phone widgets for Fantastical are plentiful, but not very information dense, unless you use the largest size. The “middle-sized” complication only shows one or two events at a time while apps like Timepage present more events in an overview.

Reasons to Stay

  • Natural language input. When I have to sit down and enter my sons hockey schedule for the fall, I couldn’t imagine clicking through menus. For event creation, it’s fast and I’ve mastered the art of a quick entry. This alone will likely keep me w Fantastical
  • Shared calendar alerts. Aside from the stock app (as far as I know), only Fantastical notifies me in a timely fashion about a change to my family’s calendars in iCloud – if I’m notified at all, most apps don’t seem to. This isn’t a must have feature, but it’s a nice to have for sure
  • The ability to hide events from my calendar. I share a calendar with my family and we have a separate calendar for each family member. Occasionally, my wife will enter something like “Late Shift” for her work which I don’t need to see all day long. I like being able to hide the event from my calendar without deleting it.
  • Interesting calendars. I know you can subscribe to calendars all over the place but Flexibits curating these make it easy to follow holidays, sports teams and heck – even earnings calls.
  • Watch app. I just like it, and it works well.
  • Despite the interface getting a little boring after a while, it does display the information I want to see quickly. Unlike the stock calendar app, I can scroll through the list of events in the bottom half of the screen and quickly navigate through weeks and months.
  • I use Todoist for task management. While I don’t link Todoist to Fantastical (it’s too busy when I’ve tried it), I to like to show iOS reminders within my calendar. Things like “thaw meat for dinner” or “call doctor” are quick little todo’s I add via Siri, and because they’re quick and easy, I like seeing them in my daily events list. If I use an app that doesn’t handle reminders, I’m now looking in two places to see everything and possibly using two separate widgets as well. I like this integration.

Finally, a thought about how they handle your accounts…

Apps like Timepage simply piggy back off the iOS calendars, which I think is why things like shared calendar alerts don’t work – they’re limited by the OS. With Flexibits, they “inhale” all your information so they can control how alerts are handled and how the various information is displayed. For some this is a huge downside, and I see that. For me, I’m okay with it and it makes my life easier.

Looking above I’d say it’s apparent I’m sticking around for another year. BTW – I don’t work for Flexibits. I just thought I’d share all the crazy stuff bouncing around in my head as I navigate the fields full of subscription landmines.


Fantastical also now has proposals and 3rd party scheduling capability. This is allowing me to keep my Fantastical subscription, but end my very expensive SavvyCal one. So, it’s saving me money?


Nice writeup. My annual renewal is near the end of the year, but I re-evaluated it earlier this year when I changed jobs. I was initially attracted to Fantastical because I needed to look at subgroups of a list of 30 calendars regularly. Calendar sets and hidden events were a major lifesaver.

My new job has me in a simpler calendar situation, but I’m still getting value from the calendar sets, especially how they create filters for widgets, the watch app and the menu bar app. Toggling calendars on and off to see what’s happening is barbaric. :smiley:

When I have to sit down and enter my sons hockey schedule for the fall

I love the natural entry, too. I’m in the same phase of life as you and when it’s time to enter 9-10 dental appointments in a row with different invitees, and some needing corresponding work calendar blocking events, I really like that I can keep up with the office admin. Needs like that come up all the time.

Proposals and appointments are also nice, though they are something new for me, so I’m not replacing a service.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with Flexibits and the way they’ve turned our cash into polish and new features!


I used to use Fantastic and BusyCal which has this feature, but I only recently discovered I can use Siri to create an event in my Google Calendar! (if you add GC to the

Some time ago I tried to quit Fantastical to save a little money. I just didn’t find Calendar nearly as pleasant to use, though.

Then they added scheduling and proposals. That meant it could replace both Doodle (free, ad-supported, ugly version) and Google Calendar appointment slots (for a .edu domain; serviceable but ugly). And honestly, it works better than either of them.

That made the yearly fee seem much more reasonable (the lowest paid tier of Doodle is more than $80 per year), so I resubscribed and haven’t regretted it.

I’m with you. $50 seems like a lot but that’s — call it .15 cents a day. Would I pay 15 cents a day to use it, EASILY.

Plus, I just cancelled my Office 365 sub so I’m already ahead of the game LOL.

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I’m an old guy who used paper calendars until the mid to late 80’s. If I had used Fantastical for the last 30 years instead of investing the money in a good mutual fund that calendar would have cost me at least $4747.94.


(I calculated a 7% return, the US market has averaged around 10% for most of my life)

I’m not trying to be a “know it all”. Just passing on a lesson I wish I had learned much earlier in life.


Valid lesson. But we all have things we spend money on well and we have to decide the value to us.

Drink coffee every day? Add that up
Like to fix old cars? Add that up
Play an instrument? You get the idea

On the grand scale of things, $50 a year is pretty trivial for most folks on this forum I suspect.

It’s a good lesson. I used to tell myself that every McChicken I didn’t eat today would become a nice steak down the road. Currently those dollars are valued at mediocre hamburgers.

Aside from that, paper calendars are great for quick visualization and sharing with others.

I learned a long time ago that I’m unorganized without a digital calendar, though. I didn’t get to enjoy a period of effectiveness on cheap paper.

I like your points, and I looooooove Cardhop so there’s that

My renewal also came up and I decided to try without Fantastical. So far, I’ve not had any problems and I’ve been really impressed with Siri natural language input. My job has changed recently and I do not need the scheduling feature anymore, as I am having meetings scheduled by a secretary. I did not use any other features like calender sets.

After three weeks, I’ve decided not to resubscribe. The excellent integration of Calendar with Siri and the OS has been the main deciding factor.


I marked my work life on paper calendars for the first seven years or so. Most of my career has been spent going to conferences, in back-to-back meetings, and having those meetings canceled, rescheduled, and added to on the fly. I’d be standing in a hallway and run into someone I was supposed to meet with—or wanted to meet with—and we’d have our calendars and pens in our hands, finding a mutually available time to meet.

My calendar in those days was a hard-to-read mess of crossouts and writing new appointments in tiny little letters in corners and margins, with arrows to the correct timeslot.

As soon as I saw someone use one of the first Sharp Wizard PDAs, I was hooked. I have not gone back to paper calendars since.

This Wikipedia entry says the first Wizard came out in 1989. I think the first ones I saw were in 1992.

I used Fantastical for years. When I started work at my most recent employer two years ago, I had to say goodbye to Fantastical, because the company blocked that app. When I left that job Aug. 1, I started up with Fantastical again, and I’m glad to return. I just paid my first subscription fee this week.

Features I like:

  • Openings—an automated tool for scheduling meetings. So nice! I just send people the URL for my “Meeting with Mitch Wagner” template, and they can fill that in. Done!
  • Related to the above: Calendar sets. I created a calendar called “blocked,” and put a single everyday appointment on it, 6-11 am every day. I don’t like to do meetings this time of year before 11 am, because I exercise first thing in the morning, then have breakfast, shower, and get a little coffee in me before then. When the weather cools, I’ll switch that “blocked” time to late afternoon. The “Blocked” calendar is hidden–I don’t see it, but it’s there keeping watch on my exercise time.
  • It’s just a nice design. Easy on the eyes, easy to read.
  • The menu dropdown when I type Cmd-Space. Many calendar apps have these, but not all do, so it’s a plus for Fantastical.
  • Very nice widgets on the iPad. Like David, I use an iPad as a desktop status board; my Fantastical calendar is there all day. Now I’m using the large widget but it seems like that’s too much, and I may change it to two smaller widgets.
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Due to a change in work environment where the number of online meetings I join dramatically decreased I recently decided (around 6 months ago) to not let my subscription renew and just try out using the free version of Fantastical. I was ready to resubscribe as soon as I felt I could no longer tolerate the free version. However, there has only been one real papercut for me, being that event attachments can’t be opened in the free version. The workaround for those situations is to just open them from the stock calendar app. Everything else has turned out to be fine for my situation.

So there is no need to over think it, just go “free” and see how that works for you. If it doesn’t work you can switch to something else or resubcribe. I took this approach with Evernote and TripIt Pro as well, and I am currently on the free versions of all.

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