The beta (what else?) of Google Calendar, which was released April 13, has a crisp design that makes it easy to create shared calendars, invite people to events and manage multiple calendars.
At this point, there are no advertisements wrapped around the calendar interface, although wed guess that will be the eventual revenue plan. eWEEK Labs first look at the service revealed that Google has done a good job of keeping the interface clean while putting efficient shortcuts where they make sense.
The feature we liked best was the Quick Add button, which allowed us to create an event by typing natural-language details in a text box. For example, "Meeting with Deb next Friday at 2 p.m. at Woburn Starbucks" will create an appointment with those details at that time.
This isnt a unique feature—Zimbras Zimbra Collaboration Suite allows users to tap natural language for scheduling, as well—but its a big draw for Google Calendar in what might be considered a commodity market.
When we included location information that was geographical in nature (such as Woburn Starbucks versus large conference room), the service automatically added a link to Google Maps that provided best-guess listings of possible locations and maps.
Google Calendar supports iCal as a way to import events and send invitations to others. Companies can publish their calendars and link to them from a Web site, as well as add reminder buttons that will allow a visitor to automatically add an event to his or her Google Calendar. Adding a reminder button takes just a little HTML code with CGI parameters for event details such as title, start and end times, and location.
For more information, go to www.google.com/calendar.
Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.