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April 13, 2006

Google Calendar is live. Rejoice.

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It’s here. It’s here. Google Calendar is here! Clearly my not-so-veiled threat earlier in the week scared the boys into working overtime to get this one out. What? It’s a theory.

My head is spinning and there’s so much to cover. First impression: It looks like Gmail and I love it already.

Like most Google toys, Google Calendar is easy to use. Want to create an event? There are so many ways to do so. You can go straight to your calendar and click on the day in question. A pop-window will let you type in all the details, including time, location, description and comments. Or if that’s too easy, you can click on the Create Event link, use the Quick Add feature (discussed below), or simply find the day on your mini left-hand side calendar. You can even drag and drop events straight into your calendar, and if you receive an email in Gmail that has event information, Google Calendar will recognize it and ask if you want to add it to your calendar. Cool!

I’m still playing with it, but so far there are a few features I really like.

  • Multiple Calendars – Google Calendar allows users to create multiple, color-coded calendars. Make one for yourself, one for your kids and one for your husband who has the memory of a 6-month-old. To see the events of a specific calendar, simply mark the check box next to its name. Google lets you view events from as many calendars as you’d like.
  • Calendar Search – Easily search through all public calendars, including friend’s calendars and holiday calendars.
  • Add Guests – While in the event creation box, users can opt to add guests to their event and send out reminders. Guests can be given the option of adding others or simply to view the guest list.
  • Sharing – Personal calendars are private by default, but users can choose to share them with specific people, giving them permission to make changes or add events. Calendars can also be shared via RSS feeds.
  • Integration with Google Local – If your event mentions an address, or even a city, you will see a link directing you to Google Local so that you can map out your event.
  • Event Quick Add – Click on the day or Quick Add link and type in what’s going on in plain text: Having dinner with mom at 6pm? Just type that in and Google Calendar will fill in the appropriate fields for you. Google Calendar is your secretary!
  • Agenda View – The agenda tab lets users see all their upcoming events in chronological order.
  • Importing — You can import events from other calendar programs, including Yahoo Calendar and Microsoft Outlook

Google Calendar is here and I am joyful — I just have two requests. First, I’d like an auto-complete function when adding guests to my events. I don’t like having to type (and therefore, remember) my friends’ email address. There must be a way to integrate my Gmail address book. Secondly, and I’m picky, I know, but I’d like to be able to access my calendar while offline. Having to be online to view my schedule is somewhat of an inconvenience. On the weekdays, yes, I am stuck in front of a computer 10+ a day, but on the weekends, I do make a veiled attempt at having a life and being able to access my calendar would be nice. So let’s see what we can do about that, okay? Thanks.

Users with a Google account can access Google Calendar from this page. If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll need to sign up before being able to access it. All right, that’s it. I’m off to go play.

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