I had a few days to play around with the new Hey Calendar from 37signals. Here is a 4-minute video of how it works.
I give 37signals kudos for thinking outside the box. One thing they’ve done well with Hey email, for better or worse, is try to be original. An original UI/UX and some original features.
They’ve coined the terms Imbox (for important email), The Feed (for newsletters), and Paper Trail (for receipts and paperwork you need to keep but don’t need to read).
While in reality, these features are arguably just cosmetic, they did get me thinking about email differently.
Hey Calendar is more of the same. The designers tried to think about how they use a calendar and developed an experience that worked for them.
Does this translate well to every other user outside of 37signals?
When I go to Hey Email (and now Hey Calendar), I first think how nice and unique it is. The UI is clean and refreshing. But after using it for a few days, I tend to get frustrated and feel as if I’m being forced into someone else point of view with awkward navigation and location and naming of features.
When I return to another email client, whether Fastmail, Apple Mail, Apple Calendar, or even Outlook, I think, “Wow, this is boring!” But you know what? It still works just fine. With a few filters/rules applied, I can get the same benefits of the Screener, Papertrail, and The Feed in any other email client.
I do appreciate the attempts to add Habits and Time Tracking features to the initial release of Hey Calendar. Those two features should be built into every calendar service as core functionality. However, I found the initial implementation in Hey Calendar very limited.
The Week view in Hey Calendar makes sense to me. I tend to manage my week. But if I want to see the month ahead, it’s all right here; scroll a little.
The Day view takes some getting used to as it is horizontal. I had the Hey Calendar open on my small portable monitor below my primary monitor. It worked well as a dashboard showing my upcoming events. The screenshot below doesn’t do it justice since I’m not showing my actual calendar.
I found both the Week and Day views feel very cluttered when full of events, habits, time tracking, photos, etc. This bothered me.
The iOS app also questioned whether I could handle this unique look and functionality whenever I wanted to view my calendar. It would certainly take some adjustment.
I had to reach out to Hey support once because I broke my Hey Calendar link when I tried to link my account with my Hey for Domains account. They responded within minutes and had my account fixed within a few hours. I feel like their support is top-notch. I could be wrong.
Overall, I think both Hey email and calendar are interesting, but I don’t know if it’s worth paying for another year’s subscription. I’m on the fence, to be honest. I’m not using the Hey service at all at the moment, but my subscription doesn’t run out until March.
If you love the UI and can deal with the very opinionated nature of the founders of 37signals, then Hey may be a great fit for you.