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Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Review - Vigcal all-in-one Organizer for iOS
Review - Vigcal all-in-one Organizer for iOS

This week we took the challenge of reviewing a productivity app for the iOS ecosystem. It’s called “Vigcal” and is written by AweSoft Co., LTD, a team of young and skilled developers from Canada. Vigcal is basically a calendar, tasks and notes taking application in one. Whereas Apple has split out these activities over their Calendar, Reminders and Notes application, Vigcal does this all in one. It combines views and linking of these separate capabilities.

I think this is a very good idea because these activities are often interrelated and having these views spread out over 3 apps is indeed questionable.

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In this review I will address the following things;

Brief overview
Who is it for
Syncing
Difference with iOS app
Pricing
Learning curve
Conclusion

Okay, good you are still reading, stick with me to get quickly the most out of this application, even the free part of it.

Overview

Calendar

Vigcal strongest feature is the calendar part of the app, I really like the way in which you can quickly add a calendar event by tap and hold in the calendar in the location where you want to add an entry and start filling out all the properties (or tap the big + symbol in the top right). Before doing so it’s wise to first think about some settings. Go to Settings > General and set the following properties to your liking;

- Minute interval for time change (default is 5, I changed it to 15), this makes tap-hold and moving these events easier to place to a new time slot.

- Show weather information to on. This is nice when you plan big walking trips with the dog, like me for example or other outdoor activities.

- The week start if yours isn’t on default Mondays

And go to Settings > Calendars to rename (add) or fine tune the 2 default calendars called “FAMILY and BUSINESS”

Finally set your Contexts, these are sort labels for which you can add when creating events. You could for instance have these contexts; Home, Work, Kids, Food, Hobby, Vacation, My Car Project.

Now your first calendar entry is done, tap and hold it, and move it to another day/time. If you tap on the event you can still edit it by choosing the pencil icon on the top right. You’ve all the standard calendar options like start and end time, repeat, alert, Calendar target. But the gems are;

Checklist, just add a check list for this event. For example when you create a calendar entry for a meeting, add here items that you certainly would like to discuss, so you can check them off during the meeting.

Link, to link Media like photos, videos, audio—they are self explanatorily—and data links which means links to another calendar entry, task or note you have listed already in Vigcal.

Invitees, type mail addresses here or select them from your iOS contacts.

Share with, to share this event. And finally Calendar, Context and Notes.

Do you already start to see how this is a big improvement over your default iOS calendar?

Tasks

Tasks are the reminders equivalent of iOS and they have almost the same properties like the events. You can define them a default and customized length per task, in minutes which is nice if you want to use the smart booking feature. After you’ve created your tasks for an upcoming time period, you can smart book them in the calendar, which means that Vigcal is going to look for open upcoming time slots in which it can book these events.

After a task has been created it can also be timed for various reasons, like invoicing to name something. Timers can be paused,stopped and also exported in various formats.

Notes

Notes can be set default to start with text or drawing. You can add shapes, backgrounds, map locations, well too much to list and finally linked again to another event.

Now that we’ve described Vigcal very briefly there is one more important thing to tell and that’s that you can switch between views with 2-finger swipes; between day, week, month and list view. And each of these views have multiple viewing options in the bottom of that view, just tap the little icons on/off to see what changes.

who is it for?

Vigcal is basically for everyone who would like to consolidate the views like described above. It’s a great tool for people who’ve to plan and task a lot, like busy parents, consultants and professionals who need to keep track of things and potentially share these items.

Syncing

Vigcal has thought about synchronization and it has included the options to sync with the iOS reminders app, so you can keep using this one if you prefer, the content will show-up in Vigcal automatically. You can also sync with iOS calendar, Google tasks and calendar, and Toodledo.

When you want to share your content on the Mac, you’ll have to buy Awecal for OS X which costs 19.99 Euro/Dollar

Difference with iOS app

Because of the enormous customisation options of Vigcal it’s difficult to find things which are better or more convenient in the iOS counterpart apps. The ones that come to my mind are the Siri integration with reminders which is very nice (but like mentioned before you can sync them into Vigcal), and after Apple’s iOS 9 update of Notes, I must admit that using and drawing in Notes is favourable. This makes the syncing of iOS notes come first on my feature wish list for the Awesoft developers.

Missing iCloud integration. To sync between iOS devices you must register to their Awecloud service, yet another account to manage.

Pricing

Basic features are free, although when you want to use linking, add meaningful icons to the events, or draft in other colors, or use the syncing features you will have to pay 9.99 Euro/Dollar. This isn’t cheap in particular, I wish these items were cheaper per option and split up into multiple in-app purchase items.

Learning curve & tips

When starting the application it confronts you to read through much of the guidelines which can be a bit overwhelming. I also noted that some of these specific items could be better explained with use cases in mind so you understand it easier. For example you can show also the Lunar-calendar, but I didn’t know before googling it that it’s used in context of Islamic religion and countries like Saudi Arabia. Also the text must be proofread, it contains quite some errors.

My advise to you is to open the app, and start creating events, tasks and notes for the coming weeks (don’t forget to add context and different calendars. When Vigcal is filled with data you can explore all the view options, this makes it easier to learn the application.

Also I advise you to visit their instruction videos in Youtube although some of them are going to fast to follow, pause them in between.

Conclusion

Vigcal has done a great job in integrating three iOS productivity apps into one. The app is highly customizable, makes great use of portrait vs landscape view for bigger devices like the 6(s) + models or the iPad. The app is universal so you pay only once if you have both iPhone and iPad, although when you are a Mac user it costs you 30 Euro/Dollar to have both the iOS and OS X app. It will take you some days or weeks to fully understand the app but once you have reached this level you will start using every feature and see its full potential. There’re much more features I didn’t write about to keep this review readable, like passcode protection, backups, etc…

With iOS 9, Apple has polished up their Notes and Calendar applications, but didn’t yet integrate them the way Vigcal does. Many apps I review will not survive an iOS reinstall, but Vigcal is there to stay.

 


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