Google Calendar is now up and running (thanks, Mike, for the announcement) and my first impression is definitely a good one. I have been playing around with it for a while now and I am very impressed with its functionality. Calendar is very fast, simple, and has an excellent interface that anyone can quickly get the hang of.
The interface is an event planning type calendar, much like iCal for Mac users, which allows you to add events to a specific date or range of dates. There is heavy use of Ajax making navigating and using the calendar very fast along with simple drag and drop functionality so the user can easily drag and drop an event and change the length of time for an event. On the left on the interface will be a list of your calendars and calendars that you have been given access to or added from the public calendar selection. Along the top is a menu allowing you to select the viewing format of your calendar with Day, Week, Month, Next 4 Days, and my favorite, agenda.
Lets take a look at your calendars workspace. You simply click on any date on the calendar and fill in the “What” value and the event gets assigned. You can then click and drag the bottom of the event to lengthen the amount of time or click or drag the whole block to reposition it. If you would like to modify an events details, click on the event and select “edit event details.” Although, If you prefer, you can add an event even faster by clicking on the “Quick Add” link on the left hand side and filling in information like the example, “Dinner with Michael 7pm tomorrow.” Google Calendar will automatically fill in the correct details for you.
The edit event area allows you to modify your basic even information, but what stood out the most for me was the extra functionality for each event. First, to modify your event information, hover over each field and you will see that it highlights. Clicking on the field will then allow you to modify its value. Clicking the date field will split up the date into seperate fields which all will return a dynamic list of times or miniture calendar when clicking on them. Fairly basic, but what I found different were the areas around your event information. You can add guests to your event allowing them to not only view the event details, but to give them access for commenting on the event and responding to an invitation to an event.
The settings area of Google Calendar allows you to create and manage multiple calendars, set access privileges, and more. You can set notifications for events under the notifications tab allowing you to receive an email or even have Google send you a text message to your phone before an event. You will also find an import section in the settings that allows you to import Yahoo, Microsoft Outlook, and iCal calendar files to easily append dates to your Google Calendar. You may also share your calendar by inviting your friends individually, setting the entire calendar public, or by subscribing to the supplied XML and iCal files for each calendar (make sure calendar access is set public before subscribing).
Lastly, it is said that Google Calendar has Gmail integration, although I have not seen it function yet. According to the help center, Gmail will allow you to easily create an event in Google Calendar when an event has been detected (Google says it is pretty good at detecting, although there may be times it has trouble) by selecting “Create Event” in the More Options drop-down. It is also said that you can respond to RSVP’s through Gmail when receiving one which on responding will direct you to the event page in Google Calendar.
As I have said before, I am very impressed with the functionality offered with Google Calendar. It has event planning, import and export options, quick adding of events, sharing, Gmail integration, and more. Looks like 30boxes has quite the competition.
Update: Official Google Blog Announcement.