Lots of folks rely on their mobile devices to help manage their schedule throughout the day. You’re probably one of them. I know that I couldn’t manage without my iPhone, MacBook and iPad.
The one piece of my workflow that’s been bugging me ever since I stopped using Microsoft Exchange and migrated over to Google Apps (Gmail, Google Calendar) is the ability to manage my calendar on my iPhone.
Sure, I can create events on my calendar and even invite people to those events. However, when someone accepts one of those meeting requests, I’m not explicitly notified via email or on my iPhone – I have to check the calendar to see if someone has accepted. It’s not ideal, but I can live with it.
The flip side to that equation is what’s been driving me nuts: accepting meeting requests on my iPhone. If you’re not using Exchange, meeting requests show up as an attachment, usually with the name “meeting.ics”, indicating that it’s an iCalendar file.
Tapping the icon results in…nothing. I can’t open it in the iPhone Calendar app. I have to quickly respond to this person with a message like “Confirmed” just to make sure that we lock down the time and date of the meeting, then officially accept the request and put it on my calendar when I get back to my Mac.
Given that the iCalendar format is a standard used by Apple within iCal on the Mac and on the iPhone, it seems ridiculous to me that I’m unable to respond to meeting requests.
A quick Google search proves that I’m not alone. The last time I performed this search I found a mention of an app buried at the end of a forum thread that was released that very day to solve this problem.
It’s called Calendar Happy and yes, it makes me very happy. 😉
There are two ways to use Calendar Happy to accept meeting requests and add them to your iPhone calendar. Both work fine, though they’re a bit of a kludge.
Here’s the first way:
When a request arrives it will look something like this – note the “meeting.ics” icon representing an attachment.
Forward that message to an email address that the app developer provides you @calendarhappy.com. You’ll receive a message back almost immediately with your attachment renamed to “event.calendarhappy.”
Tap the attachment icon and it will launch Calendar Happy which immediately parses the attachment and creates a new calendar event in the iPhone Calendar app.
Check to make sure everything is correct and save it.
Annnd you’re done!
The other method involves using webmail, such as Gmail.
While in Mobile Safari on your iPhone, tap the “meeting.ics” file name or attachment icon within the message. You’ll be prompted to “Open in CalHappy.”
Tapping that button will launch Calendar Happy which immediately parses the attachment and creates a new calendar event in the iPhone Calendar app.
This simple app has been a boon to my productivity.
That said, it brings to mind a couple of questions:
How safe is my data? If I’m forwarding meeting requests to the developer, how can I be certain that the information contained in those files will be deleted?
If it was so simple for this third-party developer to create this app, why isn’t this capability standard on the iPhone and iPad? Why did I have to pay a (small) fee to a third-party developer to get a feature that really should be included in iOS?