Google turns the page on calendaring

Google has unveiled its much-anticipated online calendar application, unimaginatively but inevitably called Google Calendar.

Designed to ‘address the challenges that we found in other calendaring products’ according to product manager Carl Sjogreen, the application lets users add events from Gmail conversation and websites and from other calendar apps, compare friends’ and family’s schedules right next to their own, set up automatic reminders – via SMS if required, assuming a compatible mobile carrier – and create invitations and track RSVPs. And this being Google, it’s all underpinned by powerful search tools.

Calendars can be viewed by day, month or year or click the Agenda tab to arrange events as a simple list. Adding an event is as easy as clicking on the calendar and then typing, but Google Calendar is also capable of picking events out of the text in an email or Web page using an extension of Google’s natural language search capabilities. You can also import calendars from Yahoo! Calendar, Microsoft Outlook and Apple iCal – or any other that supports the iCal or CVS formats – though SearchEngineWatch suggests that this is not as straightforward as it could be.

Users can set up multiple calendars and subscribe to other calendars by searching for public calendars or asking to view your friends’ calendars. Calendars can also be shared, but doing so opens their content to anyone with a Google Calendar account.

Consequently checkbox controls are provided that can be used to restrict which content is made public. Internet users without a Google account can view calendars via a Web page which Sjogreen described to SearchEngineWatch as a kind of ‘mini-blog’ where guests can leave comments.

To create a calendar just sign in at www.google.com/calendar – you will need to create a Google (Gmail) account if you do not already have one. Currently Google Calendar supports Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox; Safari and Opera users will have to wait.

Google has also provided information for Web developers who wish to add a ‘remind me with Google Calendar’ button into their sites. The supplied code will automatically add event details to the calendar of anyone who clicks the button.

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