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article imageGoogle's smart calendar app now knows when you're free for events

By James Walker     Jun 17, 2016 in Technology
Google has rolled out an update to its Calendar app that makes it simpler to schedule events with other people while on mobile devices. Checking when you're available can be complicated on a small screen so Google now shows when you're free.
The update, announced by Google yesterday, adds a small piece of functionality that could be very useful. When you add a new event to the calendar, you'll be prompted to enter when it should be scheduled. Typing "tomorrow" or a specific day will suggest times you're available and highlight any conflicts with other events.
Google suggests times in 30 minute increments throughout the selected day. Any time that overlaps with an event already in the calendar is flagged, letting you see when conflicts occur. The name of the conflicting event will appear beneath the relevant time zone.
The capability could prove to be very useful to people who have a lot of calendar events and frequently meet with other people. Checking for conflicts on a mobile device's small screen can be difficult, requiring scrolling and zooming between different calendar views. Now you'll be able to check for any issues without returning to the main calendar, making it quicker and easier to schedule events.
However, the feature remains limited compared to a similar implementation for users with a Google Apps for Work account. Those customers are able to check for conflicts with other people in the meeting as well as themselves, letting them find a time that suits everyone attending the event. The version for personal users will only ensure your own calendar is free of overlaps without checking if what's good for you will be inconvenient for others.
The new ability follows other similar features added to Google Calendar in recent months. In April, Google released an update that aims to help you find time to achieve your goals, intelligently and automatically scheduling periods for you to exercise, study or practice a new skill.
Goals works by monitoring your calendar to work out a convenient time to schedule the event every day. It ensures it fits around other appointments and can intelligently move the goal to a different day if it detects a busy schedule or realises you're running behind time. It is designed to ensure you don't end up neglecting your personal aims because of the demands of work, calculating the best time to take action so you don't have to.
The new "find a time" feature is available to Google Calendar users who are signed in with a personal Google account and use an Android device. The updated version of the app has already been published to the Play Store and should roll out automatically to users. There's no word yet on when or if it will arrive on other platforms.
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