When UpTo launched its first calendar for the iPhone in March 2012, it was engineered with social in mind.
"We initially started with this vision of more of a social application that was still very focused on the future tense—to see what's coming up with friends and see what they're up to, " Greg Schwartz, CEO of UpTo, told Fast Company. The idea was to make it very easy for friends to share their busy schedules with one another. And while plenty of users saw the value of this added social layer, many found the premise of switching between calendars messy, or confusing. It soon became evident that its current execution wasn't working. So, last year, with a quarter of a million downloads under its belt, UpTo scrapped its calendar from the App Store entirely with the intention to rebuild.
Today, UpTo is relaunching with a redesign that syncs with your Google Calendar, iCloud, Outlook, and more. To remedy the intrinsic hassle of switching between your calendar and your friends's calendars, it has taken a novel approach: building actual calendar layers into the UI.
"Instead of merging it all into one feed, we came up with this concept of a layered approach," says Schwartz. This secondary layer is opened up with an action most phone owners have come to rely upon: a simple pinch. "We realized you needed two separate worlds," adds Schwartz. The action of the pinch helps establish this cognitive divide. "It's a physics-based movement," he says. "As the user scrolls, we can actually expand the feed subtly. We thought: If we're going to show this crack, how are going to get someone to open it?"
In addition to your social calendar, users can also follow thousands of other calendars generated by both the in-house team (big events coming up, like the Academy Awards, for example) or local concerts, thanks to data partners like StubHub. You can follow things like sports teams' schedules, can't-miss TV shows, and calendars generated by your close friends or community groups. "We have everyone from churches to local organizations using it," says Schwartz.
That said, there are plenty of very good and free calendar apps to go around, like Sunrise and Cal. But Schwartz stresses that the community dimension is what gives UpTo its potential long-term value.
You can download UpTo for free here.