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Sunday, February 25, 2018

1898. Google Calendar Dumped its best feature

I’ve been using Google Calendar forever to keep my life organized. Recently, they updated the design so it’s all pretty, but I can’t make it allow me to enter events like I used to. Previously, I could enter an event like “Lunch with Rhoda tomorrow at noon” and the calendar would create the event with the correct name and time for me. Now it just creates a full-day event with the title “Lunch with Rhoda tomorrow at noon.” That’s not very helpful! Is there some way to enter events like I used to?

And here in lies the problem with using an online service for an important part of your life. There's no guarantee that the provider won't change that service over time and in this case Google made the feature pretty but they removed functionality.

The name of the feature is natural language. The ability to enter a new event with the title "lunch with Rhoda tomorrow at noon" requires Google to parse that text out and figure out what part of it is the title. What part of it is the date, and if you enter a location they should be able to parse that out as well. But they remove that from the web app and it's unclear whether they're going to be bringing it back. So the answer is no you can't enter events like you used to using the Google web app.

They did add back in the ability to set the title and the time so if you type in lunch with Rhoda at noon, they will at least on the given date put it at the right time. But it doesn't allow you to set a date.

Outlook supports this in a very limited way. You can say on the event to set the date to be next Wednesday and they'll figure out what date that is but it's not nearly as nice as what Google used to do if you're using a Mac.

The MAC calendar and the app Fantastic Hour which is my favorite calendar app support this fully. Fantastic Hour lets me enter things like Meet Rhoda for lunch every Tuesday until May fifth at one pm and they'll get that right. That's pretty complex stuff now if you still want to use Google Calendar and enter dates in that same old way you can use the Chrome extension. There is an extension for Chrome for Google calendar that makes this happen or you can use your phone app. The Google calendar app on your phone or tablet still handles this correctly.

So in summary the web app is broken and it's unclear whether they're going to fix it or not but you have other options to replace that functionality.

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