Scott Adams recently wrote about calendar interfaces. Short version: Outlook and Google Calendar suck, they're too complex and require you to change your mental reference too many times when setting up an appointment. I got about half way though and lost interest in the article. Even his idea is too complex.

When I type something, anything, into Google, it corrects my spelling, recommends choices, and interprets my shorthand into useful search results. It does this across things like maps, email, web, patents, etc. I can help Google out by giving hints, like going to the maps interface when I'm looking for a location but even if I don't, often Google knows that's what I really want when searching for a business or address and the maps results come up first.

Why can't I just select the day for an appointment and type in "Doctor's appointment at 3pm." The calendar will parse that, pull out the time, and make the appointment in my calendar. If I've got my doctor's office in my address book, the calendar will even link that data along with doing a map lookup on my doctor's office phone number to find the location. The calendar can even ask me, after I enter this, if it got the choices right for location and other info with a listing like a Google search. Then, most likely, I'll just pick the first result (since it will be correct) and that confirms the calendar event and sticks it in my calendar. Done!

No, I can't write code to do this (not yet at least), but the infrastructure already in existence in Google's searching products, when combined, can almost do exactly this!

So, Google, why is your calendar interface so complex?



03 November 2011