Yahoo has launched a new version of its Calendar service. To describe it briefly, it has been designed for those who like keeping things as simple as possible without having to sacrifice utility.
Looks-wise, it’s safe to say Yahoo’s engineers were inspired at least in part by Apple’s iCal program. The layouts for both are quite similar. Performance, meanwhile, is pretty much on par with most any other top-tier Web-based calendaring service. You’re able to make edits with very little time involved. Only when switching between ‘Day,’ ‘Week,’ and ‘Month’ views is where you’ll notice lag, if any. Otherwise, peppy it is.
All things considered, there isn’t much within the new Yahoo Calendar that hasn’t been achieved by its predecessor or its competitors. Functionally speaking, it’s very ordinary. You might prefer one service or another for the way it behaves in response to user input, or because it is integral to the experience provided by a particular brand.
If you like Yahoo Mail, you may tend towards its Calendar service. Or, if you enjoy Google’s Gmail client, its Calendar might be your preference. But if you’re curious as to the Yahoo Calendar Beta’s measurements next to Google Calendar, it’s really an either/or type of circumstance. Both are easy to use. Both are efficient with data presentation and management, and sport similar drag-and-drop functions. Just as users would expect, really. My time spent with Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail service is pretty much a non-factor, so I can’t compare the three so thoroughly as some readers may wish, but I’m confident in pegging this new Yahoo item as qualitatively very good. Among the best, I gather.
Of course, there are some differences to consider. For one, Google Calendar allows additions either through specific keyword arrangements (i.e., 2pm lunch), or through title entries followed by specific detail edits made within the application’s event manager. If you’ve learned the ways of Google Calendar, you might be quick with keywords, and the ability to cycle through various calendar views through simple touches of the ‘D’, ‘W’, ‘M’, and ‘A’ keys helps hasten things a bit. But if you have not been schooled in the art of such functions, or any others that reside within the Google’s framework, it’s no special creature.
Specify a date within Yahoo Calendar, on the other hand, and the application expands a 24-hour planner into view, where you can choose a time and enter whatever information is necessary. Furthermore, you can hover your cursor over the lower border of an event, and drag it to include whatever frame of day you like. You can’t do the same with the topmost border of an event, but you can drag the entire block upward.
Strangely, if you click an event to view it in detail, you’re shown the default 12:00 a.m. view. You’ll have to scroll down to see anything occurring later in the day. This is unfortunate, and needs fixing. Sooner rather than later. My advice to prospective users: position your cursor over the event in the default calendar view and you’ll be shown a small bubble in 1-2 seconds’ time with essential details. (Clicking on the blue link within that bubble will bring you to an edit page where you can view and add notes and other data.)
One aspect Yahoo is touting with this beta is a Flickr connection, which just so happens to be active by default. (You’ll notice the checkmark in the list of calendars to the left of the main window.) Of course, this is to tell users of its existence, but the execution of the connection is where I find fault. This is because photos are placed in somewhat random order, and do not blanket the page when the user is in Month view. Only a few images are displayed at any one time, and all are gathered from the Creative Commons class of photos within the Flickr database. And you cannot specify your own library of media to be shown. Not yet, anyhow. Suffice it to say that if you uncheck the Flickr option, it will remain off.
In the realm of tech support, Yahoo promises compliance with things like iCalendar and CalDAV, which is good, because the more accepted standards, the more empowered users are. And the company intends to introduce things like Upcoming integration and “other Yahoo properties,” as well as “auto-synch with Outlook and (the) iPhone.”
Interestingly enough, Yahoo, in debuting this release, mentions its placement among webmail and calendaring applications, but states that Yahoo Calendar alone, “sees only a mere 8 million users per month.” Which is downright paltry compared to Yahoo Mail’s 250 million or so users. Now, I doubt Yahoo will see this new beta increase its own reach within the market by a substantial amount, so I say take it for what it is: a decent step forward. Nothing less, nothing more.
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