Can Proton Calendar Really Compete With Google Calendar?

It’s been a few months since I abandoned Google Calendar to switch to a more privacy-friendly solution: Proton Calendar. Unfortunately, the switchover did not go smoothly. Here is a little feedback after almost a year spent in the service.

For over a year now, I have been trying to do without Google’s services. The first step was to migrate my mailbox to a ProtonMail address, the Swiss encrypted service competing with Gmail. Once the migration was over and my bags were off, it was time to tackle another service: Google Calendar.

The task is not exactly easy. Google’s calendar service is ubiquitous on the web. Anyone with a Gmail address also has access to Google Calendar with just a few clicks. As a result, service has established itself in the business world as well as in individuals. It must be said that with efficient sharing features, many settings and a simple interface, Google’s tool has it all.

Determined to no longer feed the ogre Google with bits of my private life, I nevertheless abandoned Google Calendar to turn to… Proton Calendar. Yes, in addition to offering an email solution, Proton also offers a cloud calendar service (as well as a remote storage service similar to Google Drive, which we will come back to soon). Too happy to find a semblance of an ecosystem competing with Google (but encrypted from end to end), so I switched my life to Proton Calendar for many months. As much to say it right away, things did not go as well as with ProtonMail.

Proton Calendar does not have an iOS app

The biggest problem with Proton Calendar today is that it just doesn’t have an app for iOS. On iPhone as on iPad, it will be necessary to resolve to connect to the website to consult its appointments. You can pin the site to your home screen for easier access (the interface adapts quite well), but the ergonomics are not ideal. In addition to that, if you no longer have a connection you can no longer consult your calendar. A clearly not ideal situation. According to statements from the Proton team, an application should arrive ” by the end of the year “. In the meantime, it’s difficult to recommend Proton Calendar to iOS users. A strange situation when we know that Apple puts privacy at the center of its philosophy.

On Android, however, there is an application open to all those who have a Proton account. Being an Android user, I was able to switch without too many problems. Unfortunately, if the Android application has the merit of existing, it is currently very limited (like the ProtonMail app, by the way). It comes down to a view of the current month with your events modeled by a small blue dot. No way to switch to a week view, or day by day, or even to change the color of its different calendars.

Proton Calendar Android screenshot
Unlike iOS, Android has a Proton Calendar app, but this one is very basic at the moment // Source: Screenshot

Having a very basic use of my diary, the solution suits me. That said, offering a calendar service in the cloud in 2021 without decent mobile applications is hardly acceptable.

Valid for basic use

Fortunately, the web version of Proton Calendar is a little more polished than the mobile applications. It is possible to have a day / week / month view, to switch quickly from one month to another or to display and hide your different calendars. The interface could not be simpler and with a click or two you can create an event, add a description or a location and invite potential participants. In short, it is a very classic online agenda.

Unfortunately, the free version of Proton Calendar only allows you to create one calendar. There is no question of virtually splitting your personal and professional life if you don’t pay. You will also not be able to share your calendar with anyone else. As with ProtonMail, the service only really makes sense when you have a subscription. The Proton Plus offer at 5 euros per month (which also includes the ProtonMail advantages) allows you to create up to 20 calendars.

Proton Calendar web view
Proton Calendar web view // Source: Proton

Where the beating really hurts, however, is the synchronization of external calendars. Proton Calendar offers the option to subscribe to public calendars, or even Google calendars, but the synchronization is very, very slow. The most recently added events may take several hours to display within the Proton interface. If you want to add a Google calendar shared with your family or friends to Proton Calendar, you will have to be patient as the events will take a long time to display. In the list of small defects, we will also note the absence of a search function within the tool.

To answer the question posed by this article therefore, no, Proton Calendar is not yet ready to compete with Google Calendar. The lack of certain features and especially the absence of an iOS application make it a tool that we cannot decently recommend to all those who would like to emancipate themselves from Google. If, like me, you have a fairly basic use of your diary and you are on Android, you will probably be able to be satisfied with the Proton offer, but in the difficult state of advising this solution to the general public. Too bad, however we can hope that all these youthful flaws will be quickly corrected, because the service has potential and its integration into the Proton ecosystem is a plus.

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