As a time-saving novelty, we like that Google Calendar beta interprets text within e-mail and can create appointments based on them. If your friend e-mails you, for example, Gmail will flag the words "breakfast at 9 a.m. on Saturday" so that you can immediately add the meal to the appropriate time on Google Calendar. Similarly to Outlook and Evite, the Google Calendar beta lets you send invitations to anyone--even to people who don't use Gmail. You can do this quickly within the app; Yahoo Calendar, on the other hand, forces you to cut and paste an invite link, then jump to its mail app. Google Calendar also offers event reminders, including SMS updates, to keep you on your toes. And, of course, you can search Google Calendar easily.
You can make your own events available to the public by exporting a file that RSS readers (such as the Google Reader beta) can display. What about privacy? Your own Google Calendar is private by default, though you can open it to particular people or to the whole Web. And while Google scans the text within your Gmail messages in order to serve you targeted ads, the company says that it will not scan text in your private calendars.
The Google Calendar beta is easy to learn, and its helpful online tour can lead you through the basics. A well-organized, searchable online knowledge base is accessible from a Help link on each page, as is a user discussion group. However like Yahoo, no phone or e-mail support is available.
Overall, the Google Calendar beta makes a convenient and easy-to-use online calendar tool, especially for users of Gmail. For now, fans of Yahoo Calendar should stick to their own service, especially if they need to sync their Outlook and mobile calendars for work. But Google Calendar's ability to detect potential appointments within the text of Gmail messages sets it apart from competitors. And the potential for savvy users to add more features to this open-code beta leaves us wondering what to expect next from Google Calendar.
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