Dials Calendar review: iPhone app puts a unique spin on daily events

Dials Calendar takes the traditional calendar for a spin with a 12-hour dial view that integrates with contacts, maps, and popular cloud services.

It seems everyone has a favorite calendar app, but it’s rarely the one Apple ships with iOS. I’ve tried many over the years, finally settling on Fantastical 2, along with Calendars 5 and BusyCal for their traditional month views. If you tend to focus on 12 hours at a time, there’s a new solution with a different look and feel.

Dial up events

Dials Calendar (free on the iTunes Store) eschews traditional week and month views in favor of a unique approach. The dark user interface feels nothing like other calendars you’ve used, with events for the current 12-hour period appearing as colored pins placed around a clock dial at the scheduled time, and a running countdown to the next scheduled event.

A tap or swipe narrows the focus to morning or evening events, and the weekly calendar across the bottom expands to show an entire month, with color-coded dots that match synced calendars (iCloud, Google, Outlook/Exchange, or a standalone Dials account). Tapping a pin expands to reveal event duration, with options to add notes, view locations in Apple Maps, chat with attendees, or view a detailed summary.

Despite the unique approach, Dials does have a month view tucked away at the bottom of the main screen.

One day at a time

The clock motif works well for dragging start and end pins to establish event times, but all-day events require a complete 360-degree trip around the dial. Other than this cumbersome gesture, Dials can be comfortably used one-handed with your thumb. There’s a dropdown menu at top to display all-day events in a list, but otherwise you never get a complete 24-hour view.

I really like how Dials integrates with contacts, adding a personal touch by displaying photos of who you’re meeting with, along with maps of each location. But without an Apple Watch app and native display support for iPad, Dials isn’t yet a replacement for my favorite calendar(s).

Bottom line

Dials Calendar puts a spin on traditional calendar apps, but the unique approach works best for those focused on one day at a time.

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