Unmistakably alluring, yet unconventional in appearance, the calendar and task manager app Dials (by DayDials, Inc) demonstrates impressive attention to detail in both design and function in its recent 1.0 release. Shrouded in dark tones and popping with neon highlights — if Dials' looks didn't initially catch your eye, then Dials' clock-like interface certainly will. At first glance a vexing method of input, Dials' dial in practice quickly becomes second nature, providing both a painless and precise means of event entry and a snapshot view of the day ahead.
Yes, Dials has the looks, but a quick tour of the interface shows that Dials has the "feels" too. Gestures and animations involving the input dial are buttery smooth and clever to boot. Swiping left or right across the dial moves you back or forth a day on the calendar. Swiping up or down alternates AM and PM, all day events glide in from an indicator at the top of the app, the app's settings menu isn't so much displayed as it is revealed, and event options (meeting, calls, or tasks) bubble into view. And then there are the details, the little things that add to the polish. Little things like a clock, event countdown timer, and date options on the dial. Or how about the pop of light every 5 ticks around the dial literally highlighting the passage of time, the automatic word capitalization during event entry, and Dials' smartest detail — the app's attentive care to facilitate one-handed use.
Now about that dial. Actual manipulation of the dial only comes into play when setting the times of events — otherwise the dial is just for viewing the day's events and that's supplemented by seven and thirty-day calendar views. Entering a new event is as easy hitting the "+" button centered on the dial and choosing from an event type. On the entry page, fields smartly justify to the right, just enter your event description and press the time to bring up the dial to set it (or set an all-day event), or tap the date to bring up the calendar if your event isn't planned for the present day. "Who" connects to your contacts, and "where" allows you to pin your destination to Google maps. Below these entry fields are options for notes, alarm settings, and the ability to set up a repeat event. Outside of setting the times via the dial, Dials' entry workflow isn't unlike that of most calendars. As I said in the intro, what might look awkward to the uninitiated is actually quite conventional when it comes to entry, because Dials' only real trick is using the dial as an easily absorbed day calendar.
All of that is a long way of saying that Dials is a great looking calendar app offering a smart day-at-a-glance view of your day and a method of input that compliments both the app's "dials" concept and one-handed usage — in addition to some light task management. Obviously even if you like the look of Dials, the app's feature set may not mesh with your needs, and I don't doubt that Dials' unconventional UI and initial account setup will scare some amount of would-be users away. They would be though, missing out on a very mature 1.0 release with no small amount of promise from a developing team so clearly concerned with getting things right. As they say, some of the best things in life are free — and for many, that will absolutely ring true with Dials.
Dials requires iOS 9.0 or later and is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. At version 1.02 Dials is iPhone only and ships without an app for the Apple Watch.