Chronos Calendar does everything right [Review]

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One of the more minor-yet-frequent complaints of Windows Phone users and fans circle around the stock calendar app. The month view, for example, shows Latin filler text on event days, rather than, say, a color indicator, nevermind that you can’t even read what the filler text says because of the tiny size. I’ve even had issues not being able to sync my personal calendar, and I’ve resorted to using my Family room calendar.

Enter Chronos Calendar. Svenska Almanackan (published as AR-1 in the Store) put a lot of sweat and effort into making a calendar that will make the stock application hide and curl up in a ball. The hopeless monthly view is fixed, it will sync with any and all of your Microsoft account calendars, and it comes in a package with the fit-and-finish caliber of any major app development team.

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The looks of this app are stunning. Though it’s clear from the offset that AR-1 doesn’t care to play nice with the standard Modern user interface, he manages to create a truly tasteful and pleasant-to-look-at layout. A mild set of browns, including the paper look of the calendar itself, give a warm impression, while the bold-faced numbers do an excellent job of allowing the user to mentally organize the week and month in a moment’s time.

The breaking of Modern tradition continues with the enormous amount of customization you’re allowed. Choose your region for holidays, show how many days in a year are left or not, make a simple note or create an entire appointment by tapping a day, sync with a Microsoft account, mix-and-match just about every component of the live tile, how many days in either direction you want to sync, etc. etc. It’s exhaustive (in a good way), and intimidating (in a bad way).

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There is quite the learning curve, as a result. One of the most important tasks to learn is how to navigate the program properly. The three-button bar at the bottom floats along with you both in the calendar and menu views, and the menus themselves act as an overlay on top of the calendar, rather than as a separate page. One should imagine the left (weekly/monthly view toggle) and right (menu toggle) buttons to be actual toggles, turning on or off what they are intended to show, rather than links to other parts of the app, as many application buttons across all mobile platforms often behave.

The filters can also be intimidating if you accidentally set something along the lines of “First day of each week” and can’t see any other days on your calendar. Tapping the middle button reveals “RESET FILTER + TODAY,” which removes said filter(s) and brings you to the current day. This middle button is also the primary way of performing a manual sync with online calendars and adding a new appointment to the calendar.

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With not even thirty minutes’ time, most users should get the hang of it on their own, including syncing to a Microsoft account. And, yes, that means you can completely replace the stock calendar application with Chronos. Of course, you also have the option of just being able to view the built-in calendar with Chronos; you still get much of the added functionality, such as the customizable live tiles and search function. But, ahem, why, when you have the option to replace the stock app with something that’s better in every way?

Here is that reason: If you don’t use your Microsoft account for your calendars. If you’re importing Google calendars, for example, into your Microsoft one, you will only be able to access events in Chronos in a read-only format; in other words, you can still get a couple nifty features that the stock calendar doesn’t provide, but the trade-off is that you won’t be able to modify events at all, save for creating events within the app itself.

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The program is very fluid speed-wise. Switching between monthly and weekly view takes a relatively painless one second, though for some, this is quite an obvious bit of wait time. Starting the app also takes a similar amount of time on my Lumia 920, which isn’t very quick, either. Everything else in-app, however, is as quick as any other feature on the device.

And, of course, any wait is worth getting the functionality of Chronos over the vanilla Calendar. The week view is significantly more handy than the hourly dissection of each day provided by the stock app. Chronos has a search filter that lets you hunt down days and details. You can write simple notes instead of creating entire appointments with a single tap. I could go on.

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Conclusion: Buy, Try, or Cry?

I think, rather than the 3 options above, we should bless Chronos Calendar with an honorary:  Duhhh, download this app. There’s not really a reason not to get it unless you’re having zero issues with the stock calendar, or if you’re using an account other than Microsoft as your primary calendar, in which case you won’t be able to edit events in Chronos. On the other hand, Chronos gives the user so much more control, good looks, and full-featured-ness over the stock application that Microsoft’s calendar efforts seem laughable.

Get this now.

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