Why would anyone in their right mind pay $40 a year to subscribe to a calendar program when there are so many free ones? 

My editor's pointed question, and a good one, when I told her I planned to write today about Fantastical, a nearly 10-year-old Mac favorite that just got named Apple. 

Because Fantastical offers a better calendar experience, I explained. I was skeptical, too, at first.

Apple itself says it gave the award to Fantastical because it "showed how an old favorite could reinvent itself for a new age." Specifically, the app switched to a controversial subscription model this year and “added many new features we haven't seen on other programs."

Michael Simmons, the co-founder and CEO of Flexibits, which makes Fantastical, says the award, which he didn't see coming, "is incredible. What an honor and a way to end 2020 after the year we had."

I've always liked Fantastical, but I'm not a big calendar person. You tell me we're going to meet tomorrow at 10, and I'll remember it. 

Buy: Apple's Calendar app does the basics, assigning events and reminding me to attend them, Google Calendar is very good at snooping through my e-mail to find plane, hotel and restaurant reservations and adding them without me having to do anything. The Outlook calendar my employer provides is cumbersome and annoying. All three require too many clicks to fulfill the task. And all aren't much to look at. 

Fantastical is pretty, with bright colors that make glancing at your day more pleasant and digestible. Other features I like:

Set up meetings with others. From within Fantastical, you can generate meetings with participants via an e-mail asking everyone to agree on the time. The winner goes into your calendar.  

Weather. Each pane of your calendar shows the weather for the day, along with a 10-day forecast. Besides the temps, you can also add some other features like the date of the next full moon and date of the Winter Solstice. 

TV shows and sports. When is the next episode of "The Walking Dead" set to return? When are the Jets playing their next game? Fantastical lets you do a search (in the "Interesting Calendars" section) and set reminders to tune in.

Work from 真人百家家乐官网网站home: Fantastical helps you grab the meeting IDs of video calls from Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams directly into your calendar item.

(FYI: Fantastical works with Google, Apple and the Outlook calendars, weaving their listings into your master Fantastical calendars. And it lets you set up separate calendars, for say, work and 真人百家家乐官网网站home.)

Before switching to subscription, Fantastical had separate prices for various devices: $4.99 for iPhone, $9.99 for iPad and $50 for Macs, so a yearly subscription is theoretically cheaper, for one year anyway, to use on all your Apple devices. At least, until you start paying next year. 

The move to subscription didn't go over well with fans. On the Mac Apple Store, many low-rated reviews offer comments like "Uninstalled and will never come back," and "I feel a bad aftertaste in my mouth every time I see it" (the app.)

Simmons has argued online that he needed to make the switch to have a more viable business model for his firm, while others pointed out that Apple's huge 30% cut of developer's profits for sales has all but forced developers like Flexibits to switch to a more generous and recurring payment plan. 

He also points out that free versions of the original Fantastical and the latest, Fantastical 3, still exist. However, you can use it only on one device. And all the fun stuff, like syncing between devices, finding suitable meeting times from participants, extended weather, sports and TV reminders, programmable notifications (like the night before or the morning of) and adding Zoom IDs to your calendar items are only with the premium version. 

The app offers a 14-day free trial at the Flexibits website. 

In other tech news this week

iPhones, Apple Watches, cheap TVs, and more to come in the following days. 

Talking Tech podcasts this week

Consumer guide: What to look for in a new Apple Watch. 

Consumer guide: What to look for in a cheap TV. 

Cyber week: Are the sales really over?

Zoom is most downloaded Apple app of the year. 

Worst password abusers of 2020

Follow USA TODAY's Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter

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