Apple gives iCal some usability upgrades in OS X Lion along with a bit of a facelift. Here's our first look at iCal in OS X 10.7 Lion.
iCal along with Mail and Address Book now share a preference pane for configuration just as they do in iOS. This removes some of the configuration pain of setting up the same service on several apps.
If you're familiar with the iPad or iPhone calendar setup, you'll feel right at home. Apple has built in profiles for MobileMe, Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo and Aol. Just attach iCal to any standard CalDAV account or OS X Server under the "Other" tab.
Or open Preferences in iCal and hit the Accounts tab. You'll get basically the same set of options you would see in the Preferences panel mentioned above.
Once iCal is configured you'll find it to be intuitive and pretty much the same as iCAL previous version in OS X Snow Leopard. There is, though, a new Day view that gives you a closer look at the today's agenda.
The new Quick Add functionality allows appointment additions you enter in plain English.
Enter the basic meeting information and iCal opens a dialog box to complete the more complicated details of the appointment, such as repetition, attachments, invitees, and so on.
iCal is viewable as a full-screen app now. This allows quicker month-to-month navigation and the full-year view has my favorite new feature: a heat map. The more appointments you have on a given day, the "hotter" the day is colored. I'm aiming on getting "cooler" days in my future.
Apple's updates to iCal aren't among the best new features in OS X Lion, but at least they should be useful. We think that the Quick Add and heat map features will be especially attractive to those who really make use of iCal.