How to improve Google Calendar for mobile devices

May 4th, 2011

Here’s a real scenario. I went to the dentist the other day for my annual check up. Whilst paying the fee, the receptionist offered to set up my next appointment. “Can you do 3pm on the 26th April next year?” she asked. I pulled out my mobile phone, a Nokia e72, and fired up Opera Mini to open my Google Calendar. I couldn’t check if I was free. Why not?

Google calendar mobile is a really useful mobile web app that enables people to quickly add events using natural language like “Dental appointment at Oxford House on 26th April 2012 at 3pm”.

Here’s what it looks like. As you can see, rather than presenting a typical high-level calendar view, it presents the day view for the current date or the next day that has some appointments.

When it comes to finding out if one is free for an appointment on a specific date in the distant future there is a massive problem. It is really difficult to goto a specific date to see if you have any appointments that might conflict with a proposed date and time.

It seems really strange that Google provides a service without a search facility! Sure, I can browse to events by paging through next and previous links but this is only useful if I want to check if I’m free in the near future. It’s somewhat tedious, time consuming and impractical to paginate thorough endless pages to get to a date one year hence to check availability for a dental appointment.

To fix this I suggest Google add a “Check availability” button that accepts the same natural language ad the “Add event” button. So I could type “26 April 2012” and it would have a look and say “No appointments on the 26th April” followed by the Add event button. Or it would list all the appointments on that day if there were any. This would make an already useful app even more useful and remove the requirement to jump through endless hoops to sync Google Calendar with my phone’s calendar.

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