Friday, November 06, 2009

Droid calendar search: FAIL (Android too)

I looked at a Motorola Droid this morning, and it shares the same flaw as Google's Android operating system: you can't search through your mobile calendar!

The press coverage of the Droid completely overlooks the native calendar. As usual, calendaring is the immensely practical application that gets no attention. Nevertheless, previous mobile phone platforms -- BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, iPhone -- at least let you search the calendar. Why not Droid? Why not Android?

The best my local Verizon store manager could say was, watch for other native calendars to be developed for the Droid.

But how realistic is that? Even if someone else offers an improved native calendar, could it be brought up from the Android home page instead of the default Android calendar?

I couldn't believe the one reviewer who said Droid has "superior in-device search" to the iPhone.

The market does need alternatives to the iPhone, to keep Apple on its toes. Droid isn't that alternative -- not from a calendaring angle.

I don't blame Motorola or Verizon. This is their release of Google's platform. That's what really amazes me about all this. Google is THE SEARCH COMPANY. It has no excuse to NOT offer search of its Android calendar.

Even when Google's providing device access to its cloud-based Google Calendar, Google comes up short. I wrote back on July, even on the iPhone, the Web version of Google Calendar is not searchable, unlike its desktop counterpart. That is still the case today.

A robust native calendar is essential. I've experienced enough recent outages of Google Calendar to remind me that the cloud is best used as a sync point for calendars -- but 24x7 calendaring is best served up right on the phone or other mobile device.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree that the calendaring function is a major oversite, but I think it is a little extreme to say that the Droid, or the Android platform in general isn't an Iphone alternative based on one feature. Google needs to improve calendaring in all areas to be sure. however, calendaring isn't the end all feature for everyone that it appears to be for the author.

Anonymous said...

I use my PDA calendar for mission-critical functions, like my life! Being unable to search the calendar is a major flaw and I may just return the Droid if I can't find other reasons to keep it. My Treo 755p is quite serviceable and costs less.

Eric said...

@Anon #1 (paid pr flak). Well duh, if the blog is called "Calendar Swap", of course calendaring is important to the author. I'm thankful that someone is this passionate about this particular topic.

I've been using a hosted Outlook + hosted BES/BlackBerry + AirSet solution for calendaring, but recently ditched my BlackBerry for a Droid, and would love to figure out a way to pull the plug on hosted Outlook. I'm sorry to hear that google calendar isn't a good solution for the Droid. I don't understand why google can't get the basic PIM functions working well in the otherwise excellent Android mobile OS.

Simcha-Yitzchak said...

Sorry to show up late for the party, but I found this entry while searching for a solution to my own calendar search woes.

It's not just the Droid that's lacking this critical feature. The Palm Pre and iPhone also lack any ability to search their mobile calendars.

I'm still holding onto my Palm Treo 680 (Palm OS, not Windows) because the fully cross-integrated and fully searchable PIM capabilities of iambic's Agendus on my ancient phone can not even be partially matched by anything in the current crop of so-called smart phones.

Current phone designers are so in love with full time web and email access, music players, messaging, cameras, app. stores, etc., that they've forgotten that a number of us actually use these things as tools, not just as toys.

And don’t get me started about how many steps I have to take on some of these phones before I'm at a point where I can actually start dialing a phone number...

Let's just hope that someday they will at least unlock their APIs so that 3rd parties can gain access to what they need to offer their own solutions. (Last time I looked – Apple had slammed the door on calendar search apps – see http://www.polarbearfarm.com/search/support/index.html)

Scott said...

Simcha, at the bottom of the iPhone calendar screen, select "list", and you'll find a search box at the top of the list of your upcoming events.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree when you write: "As usual, calendaring is the immensely practical application that gets no attention."

In addition to the mandatory search possibilities (many different criteria) that should be developed, I will also strongly advocate that the Calendar designers (if there are such people, and it should indeed be!" should make many different possibilities of viewing the appointments, both Day, Week, Two-week, and Month, which show (using different colors options) whick time slots when one is busy and when one is occupied. BTW, the S80 of Nokia Communicator is an excellent example of how good this can be done.

Anonymous said...

I'm missing my DateBk5 application I had been using on my Treo 755 before getting an HTC Eris. The potential of these smartphones wont be realized until someone understands how central calendars are to helping us keep track of our lives.

I'm hoping Pimlico S/W (makers of DateBk and the recent Pimlical) port Pimlical to the Android platform, and then you could sync it to your desktop just like Palm devices.

They said that they're anticipating sometime in 2010 for this. Let them know if you're interested and it may help them prioritize it higher.

Rik Carton said...

Today I also ran into the problem of not being able to search my calendar on my Motorola Milestone (the European version of the Droid). Of course I had just assumed it would be possible...

And it is, sort of. I have found a workaround using the Android browser. Here are the steps:

1. Go to google.com
2. Select the "Classic" or "Desktop" view (as opposed to the "Mobile" view) near the bottom of the screen
3. Go to google.com/calendar (or select "More"->"Calendar" at the top of the screen)
4. A message appears telling you that your browser does not currently support this view. Press "Cancel" to try anyway
5. The calendar should display like it does on your desktop, which includes an option to "Search your calendars"

I hope this workaround will prevent people from returning their Droid/Milestone!

Scott said...

Rik, I didn't think to try desktop view. It does indeed bring Google calendar search to mobile, including the iPhone. Hooray! Now we just have to get Google to implement calendar search in the mobile view.

So rest easy, Droid fans. Let's keep up the pressure on the Android team. They should still be the first implementers of mobile Gcal to get this right.

Anonymous said...

I went from the plan 700p to the hated blackberry to the Droid. The palms Calender was clearly the best because it has categories. There you could schedule life business home each kid and so forth with color coding for each. You could see one catagory at a time or all. A phone as sofisticated as the Droid doesn't. Have an app for this. LAME. I need it. So someone please help.

dwizzy.nl said...

"little details" like these are hard to find when comparing smartphones, unfortunately. To me, a solid PIM is crucial in the selection of a platform (and then a phone with that platform).
I agree with other posters: Palm had the best calendar apps ever, I still miss those.

Anonymous said...

I too miss my Palm treo calendar-the searches, the color coded appts, the one step sync with outlook. I was about to return my droid after discovering I could not search the calendar but just downloaded Aurora app and it works pretty well. It seems like google should be able to write a search program but until then this will do nicely. Now if google would smarten up the software so it auto switches to numbers when putting in a contact ph number or zip code like my ipod touch does.

phileatsthis said...

I have both an iPod touch synced to my work calendar and an HTC Hero synced to my personal (Google) calendars. I have no issues searching either one's calendar from the device. I really don't know what all this fuss is about.

Scott said...

phileatsthis, please enlighten us. Where is this search function hidden on the Android?

Richard said...

The inability to "go to date" in the future is a major flaw. Who remembers how you entered an event? But you know about when it is supposed to occur. Hope an alternate calendar app or a fix is forthcoming soon. Hate that scrolling through month by month to get to 2013! Anybody got a suggestion other than the work around through internet gmail?

phileatsthis said...

it looks like this is a feature of the HTC provided calendar. So I retract my earlier comment about "all the fuss" I checked this out on a standard Android and it looks to be exactly as you describe. Sorry Scott, I didn't mean to create false hope.

Of course, now that I've seen the 7-day-view in the Android calendar, I want to have it. That is one thing I miss from my old Palm T|X.

I want that so badly, I think I would be willing to give up searching to get it. On the HTC calendar, the only available views are 1-day, agenda, or month. Month is more or less worthless (as it is on basically all PIM calendars) and the 1-day lets me see my color coded time boxes, but only for a single day :(

MargeryRed said...

Forget the search feature, how about a calendar that actually works?!?! The thing is super slow and fails all the time. It shows crashing and common, the calendar is one of my MOST USED apps...

DROID, Please give us a calendar that works!
MargeryRed

Pyrrho said...

As someone posted earlier: Datebook by Pimlico is a great calendar-app for Palm, and I wished, there would be somthing like this for Android. On my first generation iPhone I used Saisuke, which came pretty close to Datebook and was able to sync with Google Calendar. The original Android Calendar is so tedious to use ...

greatKids said...

Take a look at the new iRT Calendar. It has nice search functions -- search all and advanced saved search. It also has a nice Go To function that allows you to quickly go to any day. Plus it allows icons on events.

Carol Ummel said...

I am still in 30 day period to return my phone and am disappointed how poorly Droid functions on basic features like calendar search and one touch dialing. (One touch after you go through several menus. ) Big disappointment. Love the screen though.

Anonymous said...

Another shortcoming is that when I set appointments I don't have near enough reminder options and if I need something to repeat I cannot specify an end date. I shouldn't have to go into Google Mail / Calendar from the browser to set my appointments. GoTo Date and Search are also things that should be available. As others have said, I use Calendar more than any other app on my phone. The functionality of my Blackberry Curve Calendar was much better. Droid needs to have more functionality for Calendar to be usable.

Steve F. said...

I found this hopeful hint of vaporware from Pimlico.

They can't get there fast enough, for my money. I can't even get recurring items on my Google calendar to sync with my Droid!

Why, oh why didn't I get a Treo 7xx and get all my Palm Desktop data moved over before this?!?

Armaced said...

I found a free app called "Power Search" in the market that fixes this problem nicely. I have to add another icon to my homescreen, but it takes care of the problem.

Shaddai Sons said...

I don't have an android phone yet. not having a search option for the calendar is the only thing holding me back... I did find this out though (http://www.androlib.com/android.application.com-metaworldsolutions-android-calendar-zqjx.aspx) Calendar Companion was developed for Android by Babak Mozaffari

Anonymous said...

i have spent countless hours with Verizon and HTC (completely useless) on the calendar issue. I finally gave up and got an iPhone, even though there are some things I like better about the Droid. But the calendar search was critical to me, and without it, it's a waste. I have found, however, that if you scroll through the entire year in month view, then the events will show up, at least for that year, that once. Then the phone "forgets" again, and the next time (every time) you have to scroll through the year again. Too much trouble? No big deal? Your call.

Anonymous said...

Ric's method for getting through the back door to search your calendar on a mobile phone by using it to gain access to google desktop works on Droid X as well. I had a old palm that was my bible. Thanks to Ric I can now search my Droid X goole calendar. It may take a little time to go through the process but it works. thanks

Anonymous said...

I just got the droid x and was incredibly frustrated that I couldn't search the calendar like I did with my Palm. But I just read another forum and found out that all I had to do was download the app Power Search from the Market and it works rather well. Hope it helps someone out there...

Igor Wojnicki said...

Guys, you can try Business Calendar from the market (https://market.android.com/details?id=netgenius.bizcal) - it does have search. So far I think it's the best calendar you can get for android. I'd say it comes near the famous palm calendar.

imachine said...

Running 2.3.3, still nothing.

Totally blah

Richard said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for the "Power Search" ap. Life is good again! Being 70 myself and caregiver for my 91 year old mom, I'm always wondering about some doctor appointment or future event. I think I can, finally, fully retire my Palm.

Igor Wojnicki said...

There is also aCalendar in the market. Fast, simple and very intuitive. Outperforms Business Calendar (which is 2nd best) in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I've found another app for searching calendar events, emails, sms,..
It's called fetch!
Check it here:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pmc.fetch.free

Thanks,
Direz