Outlook vs Fantastical (iOS)

Does anyone use Outlook for iOS? I’m curious about switching to it as a full time calendar. I’m currently a Fantastical subscriber, but there are a few things that would perhaps make life easier if I switched to Outlook. I should say my employer is quite large and we use Microsoft for everything.

Reasons to use Fantastical

  • Way better experience
  • Event templates
  • Natural Language parsing
  • iCloud shared calendar alerts (i.e. when my wife or kids add something, I get an alert)
  • I prefer the interface
  • I can set the Fantastical widget to whatever background color I want. Outlook insists on being white during the day
  • Outlook watch app sucks (only shows a few days at a time) and is integrated with mail
  • Easy to import other calendars (e.g. sports teams and leagues). You can do this in Outlook but it’s not as refined.

Reasons to ditch Fantastical and use Outlook Calendar

  • I seemingly don’t get asked to sign in as much on Outlook
  • I’m already using Outlook for work email so…one less app
  • Save me some cash and eliminate a subscription

Reasons I’m not using stock calendar app

  • I don’t want to introduce the possibility of my employer remote wiping my phone.

Reasons I’m not considering other apps
I don’t like the busier look of Calendars by Readdle or BusyCal. They look too much like Outlook for desktop shrunk down to fit on a phone. I’d use Timepage by Moleskine, but again, I’d have to sign in with Exchange and potentially expose myself to the remote wipe scenario.

I guess I solved my own question when looking at the points above. I just don’t hear a lot about Outlook for iOS. Given this is a Mac forum that makes sense, but I’m sure there have to be more corporate zombies out there like me who have some thoughts! lol.

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On iOS:

  • I use Fantastical for my personal (Fastmail) calendar(s)
  • I use Outlook for a legacy Hotmail account… (but only for email)
  • I do not use any work stuff (email/calendar) (same fear of a remote wipe by IT)

I use Fantastical for my personal calendar. A little over a year ago, I tried using Outlook for my work stuff (which uses Exchange server), but ran into a weird issue where the iOS app didn’t support tags on contacts. Every time Outlook on my phone would sync is would delete all my tags in Outlook on my desktop (employer provided Windows machine). I can understand a mobile app supporting a subset of features, but actively deleting data related to features that it doesn’t support was unacceptable. Once I worked out what was happening, I deleted the app and haven’t looked at it again.

Interestingly, my experience was the opposite, I was consistently being asked to sign in with Outlook when I used it (with a different account prior to the one mentioned above). Although, I have never signed into anything with Fantastical as I just have it sync with my system calendar. In fact, that is how I do everything now. All calendars are synced via Apple’s default system stuff. Then the various calendar apps I use simply pull their data from a different subset of the system calendars. If you do this, be sure to turn off all notifications for the system apps and don’t use any system app widgets because they will contain everything.

I use Outlook on my iPhone for company mail and calendar. I only use it because I do not want my device in MDM (Mobile Device Management) because I do not want to give my employer control to completely wipe my device. Using Outlook (and also Edge as secondary browser) allows me to access my work calendar and email on my phone, the app is managed by the company using MAM (Mobile Application Management) and the company can wipe the app contents if needed.

Being able to access company resources on a non-managed device is also the only reason I use Outlook. I do not particularly like the Outlook app calendar. Some reasons why:

  • Integrated calendar and mail; I like to open my calendar directly and not open mail to go to my calandar
  • I do not find the calendar list view very clear
  • There are only options for 1 day, 3 day or month views. I would like a week view
  • in general the Outlook calendar is limited compared to Fantastical, also Fantastical has a much beter user experience

In my case Fantastical is not an option because the company does not allow third party apps to access mail and calendar, they are blocked by policies. It could be that your company has policies in place to let non-managed apps login sessions to expire more often. Outlook is probably managed and therefore stays signed-in for a longer period.

My personal accounts are all in Apple Mail and currently Fantastical. I use Fantastical because I got a free year license bundled with Parallels. I probably would not pay for Fantastical when I am unable to use it for work, my personal agenda is not that busy it justifies Fantastical for me.

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