JR Raphael

Make Google Calendar more useful than ever

March 14, 2011 12:23 PM EDT

By JR Raphael

Google Calendar

If you use Android, there's a good chance you use Google Calendar. Google Calendar is the default calendar system for Android phones -- but its usefulness isn't limited to your mobile device.

Your Android phone's calendar, as you may know, is synced to the Google Calendar online interface. And one small addition can give that interface a massive jolt of extra power.

Google Calendar: The Power-User Add-On

The addition comes in the form of a Chrome browser extension called Checker Plus for Google Calendar. I stumbled across it some time ago, and it's quickly become one of the top tools in my arsenal of Web apps. The extension puts your Google Calendar at your fingertips, in full interactive form, the entire time you're at a PC -- any PC, really, whether it's your work computer, your laptop, or even your Chrome OS notebook.

Google Calendar Chrome

Specifically, here's what the app can do for you: First, Checker Plus appears in a small icon along the top of your Chrome browser. Hovering your mouse over the icon shows a simple list of your upcoming calendar events. Clicking the icon brings up a more detailed view of your calendar for the upcoming week, day, or month, depending upon your preference. You can view detailed info about events, edit events, and create new events -- all right there. Everything's overlayed on top of your current browsing session, so there's no need to interrupt what you're doing to open a new Web page (like the full Google Calendar site).

Google Calendar Checker Plus Extension
 

Checker Plus also provides a fantastic desktop notification system for your Google Calendar events: It places an interactive box in the corner of your screen to alert you of upcoming appointments -- similar to how Outlook and other desktop-based programs perform the function, but with far more flexibility. You can specify which types of events generate notificationsGoogle Calendar Notification and change how the notifications themselves work. There's even an option to have the app read your event's details out loud when they're due, using Google's own voice-to-text technology.

The best part of the Checker Plus program -- and one many Android users will no doubt appreciate -- is its potential for customization. Aside from the notification tweaks I just mentioned, you can customize tons of things about how the program looks and works. You can make the main browser icon show you the current date, for example, or a countdown of the hours to your next event. You can play with the setup of the pop-up calendar to make it meet your needs, adjusting everything from size to color to what options are shown on-screen. If you have multiple calendars, you can hand-select which of them appears in various parts of the application. Checker Plus even integrates with Facebook to let you directly add events from the social network into your Google Calendar.

Customize Google Calendar
 

A few of the options are unlocked only if you make a donation to the developer -- as little as a dollar, or as much as you want -- but the vast majority of the functionality is included free of charge. And since Checker Plus for Google Calendar is a Chrome app, it syncs with your Google account and shows up on any Chrome browser you use.

It's worth noting that Google does have a couple Google Calendar Chrome extensions of its own. Neither, however, has anywhere near the level of features and flexibility that Checker Plus offers.Android Power Twitter

Put simply, if you use Google Calendar, you're going to want this app. It's Android-like power synced with your phone and brought to your desktop.

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, on Twitter, or at eSarcasm, his geek-humor getaway.




Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.