Android App Fail #5: Google Calendar
When you use a Google-powered phone, you expect to have awesome Google applications. In many ways, Android does meet this expectation--with Gmail, for example, or Google Voice Actions--but if you use Google Calendar on an Android phone, you may feel a letdown.
Google's default Calendar app isn't awful, per se, but it certainly isn't awesome. The app gives you a useless month-long view with no intuitive way of actually seeing your appointments (unless seeing a series of tiny blue dots tells you everything you need to know). Its "agenda" view is cluttered and confusing, and even the included home-screen widget is lackluster.
This flaw, however, indirectly highlights one of Android's strengths compared with other mobile operating systems: You aren't restricted to the default system software. You can always swap out any element of the OS for something more to your liking. And that brings us to our final workaround...
The workaround: Download Business Calendar. This app transforms your phone's calendar into what it should have been from the start: You get month-long views with snippets about all your upcoming events; you can tap on any day to bring up a scrollable pop-up window with detailed information; you can flick your finger to scroll from week to week; you can even pinch to zoom into any specific time period.
Business Calendar does a lot more, too, and best of all, you don't have to pay a dime for most of its features. The free version of the app has just a tiny smattering of unobtrusive ads (I've never actually encountered one when using the program). If you want to go pro, you can upgrade to the full version of Business Calendar for about $5; it axes the ads and adds in a few extra bells and whistles.
Business Calendar comes with a respectable set of home-screen widgets. If you want even more calendar power on your home screen, try Pure Calendar Widget, available for about $2. It lets you custom-build a calendar widget, creating your own look and feel and making your widget work almost any way you want.
JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the author of the Android Power blog.