Sunrise Brilliantly Redefines Calendar Apps On iOS

Meet Sunrise, the calendar app that will replace every calendar app that you’ve tried so far. It’s the best calendar you’ll ever use. Behind its apparent simplicity, there’s a server component (like Mailbox), making it significantly smarter with data from Google Calendar, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. The app was made by ex-Foursquare designers who believe they may have finally figured out how to make the calendar a powerful tool.

Sunrise first launched as an email newsletter that delivers your calendar information in your inbox everyday. At the time, UX designer and developer Pierre Valade said in an interview that “calendar apps today are mostly broken as they don’t show you useful information, even though you spend a lot of time adding items every day.”

With a brand new iOS application, this statement sounds even more true today. I’ve been using Sunrise for a couple of months and saw it grow into the best calendar implementation on a phone.

“We looked at this underestimated issue because nobody wanted to redefine the underlying principles of existing calendar apps,” Valade said. “And we think we built a very futuristic app, giving you all the information that you need in a beautiful user interface,” he continued.

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When you launch the app, you get an infinite feed with your Google Calendar and Facebook events, birthdays and weather for the day. For every event, the app will provide information about the person you are meeting, such as a Facebook profile pic or a LinkedIn profile. You can RSVP to an event without ever leaving the app.

Sunrise is clean yet easy to understand, efficient yet full of “ah-ha” moments.

Overall, it is one of the best user interfaces I’ve ever seen in a mobile app. Sunrise is clean yet easy to understand, efficient yet full of “ah-ha” moments.

For example, when you first swipe your finger across the month grid, you’ll be amazed to see the two-week area expand to show you the entire month. You can then scroll easily to three or four months from now. This is the kind of effortless and clever UX trick that you won’t see in another calendar app.

As calendar users tend to be nitpicky about feature sets, Sunrise is packed with essential features. For example, you can quickly add an event by typing “Lunch with Matt tomorrow at 1pm.” Recurring events, reminders and all-day events are all there.

When it comes to competition, other developers have had the same feeling that you need to make your calendar smarter. Cue is one of those apps, but Sunrise’s implementation takes it one step further and is not cumbersome to use. Google Now could be considered another competitor, but Google is reinventing another service with Google Now, instead of improving its already solid Google Calendar.

In the App Store, you can find many calendar apps. Yet, many of them are just a UI layer around the core calendar APIs of iOS (Fantastical, Calvetica, etc.). Those apps are limited by what the default calendar app can do for the basic calendar features. They can add Facebook profile pics, but can’t manage Facebook event invitations or deliver push notifications for example.

That’s why they have appealed to a small percentage of users. Just like Mailbox, Sunrise needs a server component to make sense. In addition to providing more features, the app solves a lot of synchronization and conflict issues because Sunrise uses push synchronization everywhere.

Made in New York by Pierre Valade, Jeremy Le Van and Joey Dong, Sunrise is only available on iOS for now — and it’s free. It hasn’t received any funding yet. After Mailbox replaced your email client with its cloud-powered features, Sunrise will be the perfect app to replace your default calendar app. The two app icons make a perfect productivity duo on your iPhone.