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Magneto Gives the Online Calendar a Rethink

Perhaps calendars could be better, if some smart folks scratched their heads hard enough.

Everybody reading this story probably uses an online calendar. And it works just fine. We enter information into the little boxes, we get notified when something is coming up, we share our activities with relevant work or family contacts.

But perhaps calendars could be better, if some smart folks scratched their heads hard enough. A company called Magneto launches today, with a whole bunch of interface and functional tweaks, in a bid to be the new place where you organize your time.

Redwood City, Calif.-based Magneto comes from people with backgrounds at Google, Groupon, SAP and SRI: Ellen Beldner, Gadi Shamia (they are a married couple) and David Schairer. It’s backed by seed investors.

Here are some of Beldner, Shamia and Schairer’s tweaks:

  • Instead of Magneto staying locked in a standard Sunday-to-Saturday grid, the first day you see is the one you are on.
  • If you enter in locations for your meetings, Magneto calculates transportation time, sends alerts when traffic changes, and offers a map view of your destinations.
  • If you want to invite someone to schedule a meeting, Magneto makes a little email widget that shows them your availability without telling them exactly what you are doing.
  • If you have an errand with a due date, or miss an obligation and need to reschedule, Magneto turns it into a to-do that sits on the side of the calendar until you get it done.
  • Via a browser extension, Magneto can automatically create a new event with information filled in from sites like Yelp and OpenTable, or invitations from Paperless Post and others.
  • If you have an appointment on your personal calendar, Magneto blocks it off on your work calendar without saying what it is.

Many of these features are not new and have precedents in apps like the scheduler; mobile personal assistants like Donna (now shut down and part of Yahoo) and Google Now; dedicated calendars; and other smart productivity tools like the upcoming Acompli.

It does make sense to combine all these features, but is there enough material to justify the existence of an independent calendar company, a la Evernote? We shall see. At least these guys aren’t yet another company reinventing email.

Magneto is free and will be opened up in waves to people who sign up for a beta-testing program today. It can import and sync to existing calendars on Google Apps and Exchange. There’s a Web app and an iPhone app.

This article originally appeared on

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