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Diacarta: An iPhone calendar app that's really, really ridiculously good-looking

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I stumbled across this new iPhone app today called Diacarta. Before I delve into the details, check out how awesome it makes my upcoming Wednesday night look:

Diacarta screenshot

Diacarta's layout gets cooler-looking, the more things you add. $1.99 in the iTunes store.

Gorgeous, right? My only question before I bought it was, “Can I sync this thing with my Google Calendar (which is the master program though which my entire life functions)?” I Tweeted that question out and Jake Yanchar, one of the app’s creators, was nice enough to get back to me with a lengthy e-mail about how the app came about and what plans he and his co-creator/wife, Georgia, have in store for it. Unfortunately, the answer to the Google Calendar question is no—for right now. I still ended up buying the app, though, and I thought I’d review the positives/negatives real quick and then drop some of Jake’s quotes about what’s planned for the future. I really think that with a few added features this app could be the best calendar app for iPhone.

Positives

It looks awesome. I’m not going to lie: Diacarta’s looks are its main draw and if you’re not easily swayed by aesthetics, you’ve probably already stopped reading. The popular alternatives for calendars—the native iCal and Google’s browser-based mobile calendar—are fine, but for two bucks, this is a pretty slick upgrade. (Side note: I realize $2 for an app is relatively expensive, but it’s still only $2 at the end of the day.)

Besides the initial “Ooh, cool!” though, Diacarta’s looks actually make it function better as a daily planner. The main display plots to-dos on the face of a 12-hour clock instead of in a list; I’d argue the former is a more natural representation of how we perceive time (seeing my 7-9 p.m. blocks blacked out, for instance, is far more helpful than seeing a big vertically aligned rectangle in a spreadsheet). I realize this is entirely subjective and there are plenty of people who got used to the list layout a long time ago, but I still wear a watch and now when I peek at it, it’s a lot easier for me to superimpose those blocks of time when I’m (supposed to be) busy.

Negatives

I’ll just drop this as an overall negative: it’s a very bare-bones app. You can schedule events one-at-a-time and not much else.  Then again, Jake and Georgia are busy people.

“I guess we are what you would call an indie developer,” Jake wrote me.  “My wife and I are full time lawyers and started Squnch solely to make the app.  Wirkle, an amazing Indian company has been doing the development.  Basically, the idea for Diacarta grew out of my personal practice of planning my day with pictures in a Moleskine notebook.  In addition to my law practice, because I work from home (and my wife does not), I am often charged with myriad other tasks such as toting our two kids around, taking the dog to the vet, doing the grocery shopping, cooking dinner, etc.   No planner is well suited for the simple management of  “life” both inside and outside of the office.  Nor is any planning app particularly appealing to visual thinkers like me.”

What’s in store for updated versions

…but like I said, a lot of that stuff is slated to be updated in the soon-to-be-released V 1.1 (it’s about two weeks out, Jake says) or V 2.0 (the development of which is still being finalized). Here’s what’s coming in 1.1, which Jake calls “mostly a bug fix update”:

  • Recurring events;
  • Better compatibility with iOS4;
  • Translation fixes for those of you in non-English-speaking countries.

Syncing with the iPhone’s native calendar is the main thing they’re working on for V 2.0 and as Jake says, “keeping the simplicity and ease of use we have created, but somehow getting words to equal icons and icons to equal words is easier said than done.” Nevertheless: “We believe we have a great solution, and we are finalizing the design and architecture as we speak.”

Here are some of the other features that may find their way into V 2.0:

  • Alert notifications;
  • New icons;
  • Most-used icons in their own list at the top of the page;
  • Ability to adjust the 12-hour view period (e.g. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. instead of twelve-to-twelve);
  • “…and a few more surprises.”

How I’m using it

For now, I think I’m going to use it as my window into my every day. One of my biggest gripes is that I never feel like I have any time for anything and with a graphical representation like Diacarta’s—one that works well functionally and also makes me want to look at what I have to do—I feel like I’ll be able to wrap my head around my day a bit better.

Don’t let the stripped-down nature of this app fool you—it really is that good-looking. I’m not ready to say You have to go out and buy this app!!! just yet, but, like a blue chip baseball prospect, it is really cool and I think it’s OK to get excited over and invest $2 in. But, hey, you don’t have take my word for it:

Lastly, a video demo of the app:

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