BusyCal, what iCal for Lion should have been

Dissatisfied with Lion’s (s aapl) new iCal interface? So are many of those who upgraded to Lion. While some fixes exist, I’ve found BusyCal not only retains all the good features from iCal for Snow Leopard, but also adds a significant number of new features that make it a great purchase for anyone. Really, it’s what an iCal update should have been.

First, BusyCal doesn’t have that annoying faux leather iPad style interface. It retains an unadorned look more in line with older versions of iCal. There are hacks to return your iCal to classic mode, but sensible good looks isn’t the only thing BusyCal is offering.

BusyCal supports direct syncing of calenders between computers, and if you desire, can bypass the cloud altogether. Otherwise the app supports syncing to any CalDAV service such as MobileMe as well as Google(s goog). Setting up Google Calendar sycning is a breeze. You put in your credentials and away you go. Your calendars instantly appear. Lion’s iCal requires a few additional steps to add multiple calendars, which is both annoying and unnecessary.

In iCal for Lion, the calendar list floats on top of your calendar, making it near impossible to view both it and your calendar list. BusyCal retains a unique column for your entire calendar list, as well as a month at-a-glance view (mini-month). Although BusyCal doesn’t have iCal’s yearly view, it does have a list view of all your upcoming events, regardless of when they fall, and can integrate daily events into an optional icon on the menu bar. This is a handy feature to answer the basic question of where you have to be today.

Other nice features in BusyCal include the ability to add graphics to an event, as well as sticky notes and custom banners. These features will even sync with other BusyCal users, but won’t sync with your iPhone or Android device. Best of all is that BusyCal will show you the daily forecast with highs and lows right on the day in question.

Although Lion introduced some great new features, iCal is one giant step backwards in my opinion. BusyCal on the other hand retains great features from Snow Leopard’s iCal, while adding some new ones as well. BusyCal is sold directly for via the Mac App Store for $49.99 ($79.99 for a family pack), which is more than Lion costs as a whole, but the price of entry may be worth it to users that once relied on some iCal features that are no longer there.

Disclosure: Busymac provided a copy of BusyCal for review purposes.