May 19th in Free software, iPhone & iPad Apps by .

Blik Calendar – A New Calendar Widget for Android: Review

Blik Calendar – an Android Calendar widget with a difference! It displays your appointments as icons for an easy to understand, quick-glance style desktop reminder. Clever idea, read our review to see what the Today’s Top Tech team thought of Blik.

The developer for Blik Calendar contacted us recently and asked the Today’s Top Tech Team to review his new Android app. Always happy to look at new exciting new tech, we happily agreed and here’s what we found.

Note! If you are developer of anything tech, and you’d like to have it reviewed by our team, then please do use the “Get listed with us” link at the top of the screen and we’ll do our best to get back to you within 48 hours.

What’s different about Blik?

So, there are many Calendar widgets available for Android, so what’s different about Blik? Well, the main difference is that Blik doesn’t simply aim to regurgitate your calendar’s listings and squeeze them into a small desktop widget.. nope, instead it tries to interpret each entry into an icon! As the saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words, so at first glance we like the idea of translating calendar entries into single icons. This enables you to squeeze several appointments into a much small area, and gives the reader a true ‘at a glance’ check of his up-coming schedule in picture form. Arguably better than a size 3px squashed up font!!

What else can it do?

Apart from the main features of using icons for appointments, Blik offers a nice set of preferences, including allowing the user to select which calendars to be included on the widget (great if you have multiple calendars but don’t want to know about some of them on the desktop widget). Other preferences include colour pref’s, number of weeks to show, AM/PM settings, and a couple of others. We like the fact that app’s have lots of preferences so Blik remains in our good-books for this, although… we’re a little disappointed to see that there are no options to decide the size of the widget on the screen. Some Calendar widgets (such as CalWidget which we reviewed recently) offer the user various size options so that they can decide themselves how much of the screen they want their calendar widget to take up. Blik should perhaps think about offering this too in future versions…

Tapping the widget brings up four options. The first allows you to open the standard calendar app. The second, called “details” brings up a full screen list of forthcoming appointments in a similar style to the standard Google calendar ‘agenda’ list. The icons are listed down the left hand side, with a full text description of the appointments on the right. The styling (black background with white text) gives a good clean style for easy reading.

What we do like with the ‘detailed’ view of the widget is that it lists all appointments for the next x weeks (configurable) as opposed to just appointments for the remainder of the month. The standard Google calendar in Agenda view only lists entries in that month… which is rather useless if being viewed on the last few days of the month!!

However, what we’re not so keen on here in Blik’s detailed list, is that if you click an appointment entry, you do not get a drill down of the calendar for that appointment (as you would’ve done if viewing the Google calendar agenda list). Neither can you long press or choose option ‘edit’ to edit the appointments entry. In fact from the detailed view, the only things you can do other than read what’s on screen are add new appointments or open the Google calendar. A little work here would make this area feel a somewhat more useful in day to day use.

The widget also displays an arrow to allow you to scroll across to more appointments within the widget. This is a nice idea, however, we found the arrow to be on the small side, which made tapping it rather difficult, sometimes it felt impossible. It would be nice for this arrow to be larger or more responsive

Does it work?

Just now Blik is in Beta, we we forgive any sluggishness or glitches at this point (of which we’ve not really experienced much to be honest on our Xperia X10). However, the big question on our lips was “does the software really manage to interpret our calendar into useful icons?!”

Well, as much as we’d love to say YES, our experience was, ‘sort of’ at best. We forgive the software on some of our appointments because they’re in Swedish, and the developer does admit that this only works in English at the moment… of course therefore we understand that it can’t interpret the Swedish entries in our calendar. (One funny thing here was that it picked up our appointment with Jägerzoo in Sweden and displayed a monkey next to it! I might show the director next week when I meet him!).

However, we did also have various appointments in our calendar which were in English, and the results were only so-so. Sadly the majority of appointments were not successfully matched to an icon by Blik. In these situations Blik uses a black star with a question mark in it, to show that it couldn’t find a suitable icon for that appointment (or couldn’t understand what the appointment was about). Therefore, the main feature of the app’ is rather spoiled, because you end up with a widget on your desktop that can’t really tell you much about your upcoming schedule.

Blik did pick up on the fact we had the ‘Eurovision Song Contest” in our calendar (I know, apologies in advance for that!), and displayed a rosette which nicely depicts a contest! So nice work there Blik, it’s just a pitty it didn’t pick up on other obvious things like “Travel to hotel”, which I would’ve expected to see something either representing travel, or a hotel? But it showed neither sadly. I also have reminders in my personal calendar to put out the dustbin/trash for the garbage collection the following morning. But Blik offered no icon for this… perhaps I’m presuming a lot here, but I thought that might be an obvious reminder in people’s calendars? Maybe it’s because I used the words “bin” rather than ‘trash’ or ‘garbage’?

Blik’s technology also picks out what it believes to be the important keyword in appointments and place that underneath each icon. In our experience this is where we were most impressed. Just by reading one word of our weeks schedule, we could understand enough to remind us what was happening (well, just about anyway). We’re not sure if this was luck or something extremely smart going on under the hood of Blik, but we quite liked it. We’re not sure however if in the previous example of “travel to hotel”, which word is actually the best / most important to display… the fact that the appointment is reserving out travel time, or, that you’re going to to a hotel. Blik decided to display the word ‘hotel’ here.

Conclusion.

To conclude, we like the idea of the future where our smart phones can display our schedule in a series of familiar icons and pictures… however, in reality at the moment, since most of our appointments were displayed as black star icons, it failed to make our team jump up and down with excitement after testing.

The concept however is good, a nice space saver, and potentially offers a really speedy way of glancing at your appointments on the desktop. The app is nicely designed too, and looked god on the desktop (assuming the developer can fix the many black stars and replace them with meaningful icons!).

It will be interesting to see how smart the software can get, such that it learns more words and can display more images in future.

The detailed agenda display was nice and clear, although it would be nice to be able to drill down to single events and edit them from this screen.


Today’s Top Tech Review Our overall rating:   3/5

What we liked…

  • Nice idea, tickled our tech’ juices
  • Saves screenspace using icons instead of words
  • Good set of preference settings
  • Has a nice agenda list
What we weren’t so keen on…
  • Many of our appointments were not interpreted into icons
  • No option to change the size of the widget
  • Only available in English at present

Vital info

Software: Blik Calendar
Supplier: JoeProgrammer
Website: http://android.joeprogrammer.com
Price: Lite version is Free (a paid for Pro version is coming soon which will contain more icons)


Self-confessed tech and gadget geek. Love all kinds of tech, but especially that which helps me work more effectively, and looks / feels good to use.

VIsit Jon Smith's website

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