The Alan Gilbert Setting

The incident last year in which Alan Gilbert stopped the New York Philharmonic toward the end of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 to demand an end to an iPhone’s marimba play-along and my own irritation with patrons at Carnegie Hall who do not heed the projected request to turn your devices off reminded me of an idea I posted for integrating phone ringer settings and calendar events. Here is the phone side of that idea, with the addition of location-based smarts to prevent the setting taking effect if you decide not to attend the event.

Sound and vibrate settings for a smartphone during a calendar event.
Device settings during an event.

The device should learn which setting is used for a given location and use that as the default once it can do so confidently — after maybe 2 or 3 uses of the same setting for the same location.


I find myself wasting a lot of time creating calendar events that share a lot of properties, but differ in time of occurrence and duration. Auto-complete still requires per-field interaction.

For example, a band may rehearse regularly, but not on a fixed, repeating schedule that can be cleanly accommodated by a calendaring app’s recurring event interface. You want to be able to easily create an event involving the same people (your bandmates), usually at the same place (your rehearsal studio), with a varying date and duration.

Templates to the rescue.

Event Templates Pane

Event templates sorted by use

  • Once dropped to the calendar area, the template title text is given keyboard input focus to allow renaming from the default.
  • A Custom sorting option allowing the user to arrange the templates however they like might be useful. The set of templates you use may change over time as you work on different projects.
  • Double-clicking a template opens the editor.
  • Modifications to events created from templates do not propagate back to the template.
  • Deleting a template has no effect on events created from the template.
  • A menu command allows a stand-alone event to be used as the basis for a new template.

Event Template Editor

Event template editor

  • Modifications to templates do not propagate to events created from them.
  • As they exist outside of specific dates, only a default duration is set on a template.
  • All other properties can be set as with normal events.


Templates would not work cleanly in Contactizer‘s All events list view. What happens when you drop a template event to the list? A title field and date/time picker could appear at the drop point. It’s still likely to be less input than creating the event from scratch.

Tomorrow is the Question

Rescheduling an event to another day using the mobile Calendar app on the iPhone requires at least six taps across four screens. The method depicted below reduces the minimum taps to two with the number of screens depending on how many days the event is moved.

  1. In Day view, tap and hold the event.

    Event pressed in Day view

  2. With your other hand, tap the forward (or back) triangle button in the date bar.

    Tap forward button while holding event

  3. Alternatively, while still holding the event, swipe from right to left to go to the next day (or vice versa for the previous).

    Swipe while holding to move forward or backward

  4. The event is moved to the next (or previous) day at the same time. The event box would always remain beneath the tapped spot, nudging overlapping event boxes aside if necessary.

    Event displayed on new date

Problems with the Method

  1. Not easily discoverable
  2. Requires two hands or Evgeny Kissin-level finger dexterity
  3. Only works cleanly in Day view, though variations for List and Month could work

Indra Raj on MySpace

Child is Father to the Man

I find the dots below days with scheduled events useful in the mobile Calendar application. They should appear in iCal’s mini-calendar as well.

Mobile Calendar displays dots below days with events scheduled

Using a few different size dots based on the number of events scheduled would allow users to see which days are particularly busy without having to switch the main view mode to Month or view the particular day — without adding much visual clutter. Granted, I don’t have the busiest schedule.