N. Nagaraj

Using the Google Calendar, one can plan one's routine in convenient chunks of time

The service offers ease-of-use and smooth service Multiple calendars can also be created

Chennai: Google unveiled its calendar and organiser service, Google Calendar, to Google Account holders on Thursday. One can organise one's life by the day, the next four days, by the week or by the month, in convenient chunks of time. One can also take a quick look at the appointments coming up by clicking on the "agenda" tab.

The service, available at http://calendar.google.com, offers the ease-of-use and smooth service that most have come to expect from Google.

Entering your first appointment in the Google Calendar is a breeze: click at the time and date that you want to enter the appointment and enter the details on the balloon that pops-up. You can add more options to your appointment after you create the event and click through to "edit event details."

The event details page allows you to set the date and time, location and description and also repeat appointments. You can choose options for reminders and whether the event is public or private. You can manage invitations and follow-up on acceptance and rejection from this page.

You can also add events by clicking on the "Quick Add" link and typing in the details if you would rather not fill a form for having a cup of coffee with a friend. The service understands appointments like "coffee with Ray at 5 p.m." If the service cannot understand what you mean, it takes you to the form to create appointments.

Gmail facility

Google Calendar allows you to import your appointments from Yahoo! Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, and Apple iCal. Gmail now has the facility to create an appointment in your Google Calendar based on an email message that you receive.

You can create multiple calendars. For example, you can create a calendar for your team at work, another for your yoga classes, yet another for your bridge club, and one for your training sessions, and share them with only the relevant people. You can then choose to view appointments all at once, or from specific calendars. Once you colour-code your calendars, you can make out what kind of appointment you have coming up with just a glance.

You can choose to receive a "Daily Agenda," sent out every morning at five through email or SMS (U.S. only). Currently, it will include only appointments from your primary calendar, but Google says in its help pages that it is working to quickly include information from other calendars as well.

You can also create public calendars, to track events and anniversaries of specific groups or teams or interests.

The service also has a calendar module for companies and organisations. Please read the Event Publisher Guide at the Google Calendar Help centre for more information on how to promote events using the service.

Google's not the first to introduce a calendar service, Yahoo's been at it since 1998. But Google has a few extras to offer: multiple calendars; XML feeds of your calendar so you can access it from any XML/RSS feed reader; and convenient keyboard shortcuts to navigate through the service. At the time of writing, the XML feeds feature, though, seems to work only with Google Reader, and a little slowly at that. The service is still in beta (testing) and if our experience with Google is anything to go by, the little niggles will be sorted out sooner than later.