Parker Planner 1.4 in Review – Solid Start but Can’t Wait for 2.0

There are two kinds of people: one who cares about productivity apps, the other not so much. If you are among the latter, you may consider skipping this review. But if you – like me – enjoy checking out the latest attempts in raising ones productivity levels, then you may already have heard about Parker Planner. Ethan Parker and his team left the paper planner business in order to concentrate on creating the perfect day planning app. Let’s see how far along they are!

First Impressions

Even the Parker Planner logo is easy on the eyes

Parker Planner really looks great. While it is not the be-all and end-all, the design can definitely be a deal-breaker for many. PP uses red and white to spice up its otherwise smooth grey interface. Recently they also added the choice of a blue or green theme, and they only show on the current day/week/month views. Once you scroll ahead or backwards, the UI will turn gray. You may also elect to add a paper-like texture to the background, which I found a little rough. The main screen (which is really the main feature of the app) is the day view; it includes a timetable view on the left half of the screen, and a split right side with to-dos on the top and notes below. To me this split day view has a lot of potential, however it feels a little unpolished just yet. You will see my reasons in a second.

Color coded events in past (gray) day view


People with a busy schedule – or those without a laser sharp memory – like to start their mornings by going over the tasks and events of the day ahead. For that this split day view is a great idea, as one can see everything at a glance. Parker Planner handles all the usual Calendars and does show the color codes already set in the built-in iOS calendar. The available day/week/month/notes/to-dos views are all clear and straight forward. There are some flaws of course , though none of which would not be too hard to fix.

Day View – Calendars, To-dos, Notes

Events are displayed in separate rows, which result in a great overview. But on the flip side, we can only see up to six rows (events or breaks) at a time. No matter what time of the day it is, day view always shows the timetable from 8AM even when it’s already 6PM. I would definitely welcome the option to change this default value, or at least have it start from the present time. It would also be great if one could zoom in and out for either more details or events to be displayed on screen. While adding a new item is easy (just click on an empty time slot), such new events will always start at :00 minutes and last for one hour. If you want anything else, you first have to create an event and after tapping it again, you will be presented with the event edit window (not Apple’s best creation) to make your changes. Quick and effective event creation is one of the most important features of scheduler apps, and this is one of the most important areas where Parker Planner needs to improve upon.

Going over to the to-dos section, you may find it very easy to add a new item: just tap on the top (blank) row and type. A done task can be checked off easily by tapping on the square next to it. Unfortunately the items cannot be reorganized (neither here nor in the Todos view) – you always see the latest unchecked on the top and only four of them are visible. No due dates, no alarms can be set. On a positive note incomplete to-dos carry over to any date.

If you decide to use Parker Planner as your go-to productivity app, the notes feature is very handy. It works smoothly – just tap and type. The box becomes scrollable if the text is larger than the area.

Today's events with notes and to-dos hidden (red theme)

Week View

Again, we get a solid overview, with all day events in the top row and the actual schedule (8:00-17:00) below. Current time is not displayed. Sadly, events cannot be added or edited from here (if you tap on an event it prompts to the day-view).

Month View

Month view to me feels like strictly a navigation point. You don’t know how many events you have on the days of the month;  you only get a sort of heat map with color coded squares. The colors reflect the calendar of the item, while the number of squares strangely stand for how busy the day is (and not the actual number of events). One can easily go to a day with a single tap, or to a week with a swipe.

Week view in blue

To-dos, Notes, List View, Jump to

In the to-dos view we can see both incomplete and completed tasks, add new ones and check off or delete anyone of them. Due dates and notification options are missing here, too. A real downer for me. Notes are nothing spectacular, just a regular list view of notes and their creation date. That said, it works well. Meanwhile, List View shows all the events (to-dos are excluded) in active calendars and you can long tap on items to edit them. You may also directly jump to any past or future date.

Month view, green theme with texture

Settings and Conclusion

To me customization is the key to having a great productivity app. Parker Planner – for now – lacks such flexibility. Other than calendar selection, choice of color theme, we don’t get much else. No preferred week start, no defining work hours, no notification options, no default calendar selection, etc. Without deep settings options Parker Planner can easily fall short for a lot of users.

And that is my main problem with this app in its current state: because of the lack of flexibility, it requires more steps than necessary. In general, it has a sort of beta-version feel to it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it provides plenty of hope that it may still fulfill its potential. For this potential, I recommend Parker Planner for those who are consistently on the look out for promising calendar apps – if for nothing else than to review it yourself and help the enthusiastic dev team with your feedback.

Go tap it – I certainly have!

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Parker Planner Developer: Parker Planners
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Nice design
  • Great overview
  • Intergration of events, to-dos and notes
  • What works works well
  • Plenty of room for improvement
  • Very few setting options
  • No due dates, no notification
  • General beta-version feeling
  • Plenty of room for improvement


Next ArticleReport: iPhone 5 pre-orders available on September 12th, International launch to follow in first week of October