Choosing a Meeting Planner App

Choosing a Meeting Planner App

Brett Terpstra introduced me to a new app last week that I thought I could use: TimeToCall [$1, iOS]. (As of 10/2/2014, TimeToCall has been removed from the App Store.) As the description states, it’s “a universal iPhone and iPad application to help you choose the best time to call people in other countries based on timezones.” Since I have clients outside of the U.S., I thought the app would be more handy than doing time conversions on the web.

Like the simple world clock that iOS already provides (in the Clocks app), TimeToCall allows you to create a list of cities and view the time in each relative to the others. Going one step further, you can create multiple lists of cities in TimeToCall, which makes it possible to keep track of multiple people (as I wanted to do) or multiple meetings.

TimeToCall

Unfortunately, TimeToCall doesn’t allow the user to show the current time and the app suffers from bugs related to selecting times. As much as I wanted to use this app, the inability to set the current time—especially relative to my current location—prompted me to look at other apps. (See my update below.)

Brett had already mentioned Synchronize [Free, iOS] and Cities. The latter, sadly, is no longer available; that’s unfortunate, since it had the ability to use custom cities—which would allow me to name each for my customer and forego the multiple lists in TimeToCall.

Snchronize

Synchronize, while not allowing multiple lists, is very slick. The first item is always your local time. A scale at the bottom of the screen allows you to change the displayed time for the selected item by swiping; all of the other times update automatically and you can reset the display to the current time with a single tap. Like TimeToCall, there are some cues to the time of day (whether or not it’s a good time to call), but in Synchronize they’re more subtle. Without either multiple lists or custom cities, though, I’m not able to use this app.

Searching for “world clock” in the App Store yields a plethora of choices; however—as I soon realized—what I was looking for was not a world clock, but a meeting planner. (World clocks almost always show only the current time in various places.) World Clock [Free, iOS] by timeanddate.com will probably be the first result in that search and it has perhaps the most complete list of cities and the greatest accuracy, but it, too, has no support for multiple lists or custom cities.

Meeting Planner

Meeting Planner [$3, iOS], also by timeanddate.com, allows the user to define multiple meetings. Although its “find best meeting time” feature is very nice if you’ve got more than two participants, it’s not particularly useful to me when all I want to do is quickly see what time it is or will be for a specific client relative to my time.

World Time Checker

World Time Checker [Free, iOS] is a mixed bag. It’s similar to Cities in that it allows you to name your clocks, but you can only have three. The main screen looks nice, but the edit screen needs some help and there are some interface bugs. Worse, it doesn’t appear to be very accurate (the time in Sydney in the screenshot is incorrect).

Timelanes

Timelanes [$1, iOS] deserves a mention for its take on the interface. Although it looks different than Synchronize, swiping to change the time is similar. It also adds the ability to send meeting notices by email (like Synchronize and Meeting Planner) and add the meeting to your calendar (like Meeting Planner). Meeting Planner, however, is the only app of these that will send meeting invitations (.ics files).

So which to choose? I’m not really satisfied with any of these; Synchronize is all that I want, but without custom locations, and TimeToCall has time-selection issues. For now I’m going to use both, each when appropriate, and hope that the developers will consider the suggestions I’ve passed along.

Update: After contacting Bjango Software, I’ve learned that Darkness [$3, iOS] is the successor to Cities and includes the same custom cities feature.

Darkness

Darkness has a leg up on TimeToCall, since the user can easily select a time—even the current time—and also have a current location in the list. However, selecting a time is not as easy as with Synchronize. But with Darkness positioned firmly between the two at the moment, I feel comfortable with using it instead of the others.

Update: After some back and forth with the Hiltmon Lipschitz, I’ve decided that my initial negative perception of TimeToCall was due to one feature being opaque and another being hidden. Part of what I saw as the app’s time selection bugs was actually a feature he calls the optimizer—a way to choose a meeting time that works for all participants—and which he admits is not perfect. And it is possible to select the current time (rounded to the nearest quarter hour) by double-tapping on the time slider.

As I noted above, I’m looking more for a meeting planner than a world clock, so I’ve changed the title of this post to reflect that. And, now that I understand the app a little more, I’m willing to overlook the things I don’t like about TimeToCall and use it regularly.