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Don’t just remind me, Apple Calendar – help me get to places on time

Apple Calendar will happily unearth events from Mail and offer to add them to your schedule. This is useful. It saves you having to do this manually, and it ensures important information from the original invite is retained. So there should be no accidental cases of, for example, adding your flights to the wrong Wednesday. And then being in a total panic when the right Wednesday arrives a week sooner than expected.

Of late, though, I’ve been thinking I’d like Calendar to do more – and certainly more itself. Right now, it can give you a friendly ‘get going’ reminder before a meeting. And with your help, it can block out travel time to an event, via the transportation of your choosing. You can then define alerts to trigger a set time before that extra period, rather than before the event itself. Handy to get that gentle nudge when you actually need to leave rather than some time after you should have already left.

Apple Calendar

But where’s the completeness? If I have a meeting in a nearby city, Calendar can block out the time it takes to get there, but not my return journey. If I’ve an upcoming flight, it can estimate the time it takes to drive to the airport, but won’t find and integrate information from the pre-booked parking spot email – and also factor in the shuttle ride from the car park to security. And what if the flights are for someone else? Are they merely reminders that a family member is going away, or an alert that you need to collect someone from an airport, lest they end up stranded – and very, very annoyed?

The many variables are the problem – something that, no doubt, AI advocates think they have solutions for, in their unending quest for more automation and personalized assistance via tech. But that brings two further concerns: privacy and accuracy. I’m not sure I want companies dabbling with AI to have unfettered access to my private documents. And given AI’s tendency to ‘hallucinate’ and generate convincing yet inaccurate answers, there’s a question of trust. Will we merely switch busywork in constructing events for carefully checking whether AI-generated schedules are correct?

So that idea of the magical, all-knowing Apple Calendar? It’s probably not coming anytime soon. Unless, of course, Apple pulls a surprise at WWDC24 and unveils some mind-blowing magic that changes the travel planning game.