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One of my personal and professional New Year's resolutions
is to get better at managing my time – and to actually be on time.
I decided to
try out the Sunrise calendar app for iOS to see if it can help me stay in check. This free app synchronizes event information from
your various social media and calendar accounts into one sleek display. You can then use that data to do
various tasks, such as wish somebody a happy birthday, look up directions to an
event, check the weather on a certain day, or email people who have RSVP'd to a
My biggest gripe with Sunrise is that it doesn't support as
many accounts as I need it to. For example, you can't load in events from your
Microsoft Outlook calendar. I'm hopeful, however, that Sunrise will continue to
add account support as more people use the service.
When you first start Sunrise, you'll be prompted to sign up
with either your Google or Facebook account.
You can then pick additional
accounts to sync: Facebook or Google (depending on which you signed in with),
iCloud, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Twitter, or Producteev:
If you use multiple
Google calendars as I do, you'll be happy to learn that you can connect one,
some, or all of your calendars to Sunrise.
When all of your accounts are fully synced, you'll see a list
view version of your calendar. You can scroll to view your events for the day, which are divided by Morning, Afternoon, and Evening.
Sunrise also just added a "week view" option so you can get a
snapshot of what lies ahead for you on Monday morning (or whenever).
The interface itself is clean, easy to navigate, and nice to
look at. The design is very much in line with Apple iOS 7.0's aesthetics: flat
images, thin and simple lines, and minimal distractions.
Sunrise automatically assigns different icons based on the words you use to describe your events. In the screenshot, it shows a talk bubble for a meeting. For "running" you get an icon with a person...running!
At the bottom of your
day, you'll see your Facebook friends' birthdays. Sunrise automatically sends
you push notifications reminding you of daily birthdays, but you have the
option to turn that feature off.
One helpful feature is a timer that shows you how many
minutes remain until your next meeting or event. You also have the option to set alerts 5 minutes to 2 days before an event happens. If you swipe on an event,
Sunrise provides directions to the location by way of Google Maps. These smart little tweaks are the reason why Sunrise goes above-and-beyond your phone's out-of-the-box calendar app.
As I mentioned earlier, Sunrise doesn't support Microsoft Outlook calendars,
which means it is unfortunately not so useful for my professional life. At
TechSoup, we rely on Outlook for scheduling meetings and events. I would love
to be able to quickly check Sunrise every morning and see both my work and
personal events laid out for me.
Another useful addition might be Eventbrite support. I've noticed a big uptick in nonprofits and social good organizations using Eventbrite to organize meet-ups or conferences. Fortunately, Eventbrite and Sunrise already have a history of working together. Sunrise's email digest service currently uses Eventbrite's API so hopefully the calendar app will be next.
I'd also like to see Sunrise support for a travel planning app, such as Trip-It or Hipmunk. As conference season approaches, having your travel itinerary alongside your meeting schedule would be immensely helpful.
If you rely on Google Calendars and Facebook for both your
personal and professional life, you'll find Sunrise immensely helpful.
Previewing the events ahead of me at the start of my day keeps me on track and
on time. Little touches like the timer, weather information, and driving
directions, will make you forget your smartphone's stock calendar app and stick with Sunrise.
What tools do you use to keep yourself on-time, on-schedule, and on-track? Log in to tell us about it in the comments.
Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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