iPad Experience: Calendar, Contacts, and Notes

You may not have thought much about PIM on the iPad, but as you can see the Calendar is actually quite good and with the large display you may find yourself using it more than you do on your iPhone. Contacts and Notes are about the same as the iPhone and there are better notes options available.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

With the ever increasing number of iPad apps and support for tens of thousands of iPhone apps you may not have given much thought to the select few apps included by Apple on the iPad. I began using a Palm Pilot 1000 back in 1997 as a replacement for my Franklin Planner and with the Calendar application on the iPad it looks like I am coming full circle with another large accessory and an excellent calendar. You can see screenshots of the Calendar, Contacts, and Notes applications starting on this page of my iPad Experience Series gallery and watch the video below to see a walk through of these apps. Personal Information Management (PIM) is not as exciting as 3D elements or fast-paced games, but may be essential to your use of the iPad. Unfortunately, there is no integrated Task support and the Calendar still lacks one basic essential that I would like to see.


The Calendar application is easily the shining star in the PIM suite of apps on the iPad and I think this actually makes the most sense. You are not going to use your iPad for many calls (possible via VoIP solutions) so having a basic Contacts app is probably fine. Using your Calendar on a large display is something you may do quite a bit though and rather than just blowing up the iPhone Calendar we see that Apple has taken advantage of the large display and offers some nice views of your data. I use Exchange to sync my Calendar wirelessly so that is a good experience, but I believe most other calendar data options (such as Google Calendar) require you to sync via cable with your PC or Mac via iTunes.

You will find views for Day, Week, Month, and List and as you can see in my image gallery they really do look fantastic and are useful. Swiping left and right in Day view does NOT go ahead or back a day as you might think it would and you actually have to tap a day on the month in the upper left. Apple needs to add the ability to simply flip the page like a book in Day view. There is a view sensitive slider bar along the bottom that lets you quickly slide to a different day, week, or month.

Tapping on an appointment in Week or Month view actually pops up the appointment details. There are fields for title, location, time, repeat, invite attendees (nice to see), alerts, availability, and notes when you create a new appointment. I was disappointed to still not see any field for privacy settings since I use this all the time to keep personal appointment details hidden from public view of everyone in the office. Hopefully this is something that is added in an OS update.

You can also view and respond to invitations within the Calendar. The functionality is the same as on the iPhone/iPod touch, but the views are greatly enhanced and made much more functional.

Search works well and as you start entering letters your appointment data is dynamically filtered with search results.

Multiple calendars is not supported if you have Exchange setup to sync your Calendar data. Kevin Tofel discovered and posted details on how to sync multiple Google calendars to the iPad so if Exchange is not essential to you then follow his instructions to setup your iPad.


The Contacts application looks really bad in portrait mode (like this orientation was an afterthought) so I recommend using it in landscape only. It appears like a standard basic address book with a letter index on the left to jump to contacts with last names with that letter. It has an iBooks look to it with page depth on the edges too.

Even though it doesn't appear as if anything is hyperlinked if you tap an email address or website you are popped into an email creation page or taken to Safari so that is nice to see. If you tap the Share button then an email creation window pops up with the contact data attached as a .VCF file.

New contact fields include first and last names, company name, mobile phone number, email, website, address notes, and add field options (includes job title, department, IM, birthday, and date fields).


The Notes application looks the same as what you see on the iPhone with that same font that is not customizable. I don't mind the font, but some people hate it. In landscape orientation an image of a leather desktop flap appears in the lower left corner with a note list on the left above it. Notes is pretty basic, but functional and I am fine with the way it appears. Unfortunately, Notes is not something that is supported via wireless Exchange syncing, but is supported for syncing through iTunes. If I use it then I actually email the note to my Evernote account and actually prefer to use Evernote for my notes anyways. Evernote on the iPad is fantastic and greatly improved over any other version of Evernote I have used. I will be posting a detailed article on using Evernote on the iPad soon as well.

Closing thoughts

PIM on the iPad is acceptable and I personally am quite pleased with the Calendar application that gives me some outstanding views of my data and I was just expecting the same thing as you see on the iPhone. I hope that Apple adds privacy settings to new appointments and once that is provided I will use the Calendar even more than I do now. Contacts works and since you will mainly need contact data on your phone I don't think any enhancements to it are really warranted. Notes also gets the job done, but Evernote is a much better choice for serious note takers.

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