Can a Calendar App Actually Be Fun? This Startup Is Spending Millions To Find Out.
We chatted with Amie creator and CEO Dennis Müller to find out.
Some people love calendars and organize every hour of their life on a chart that consists of roughly 30 days every month, 12 months a year. And then there are people like me. We don’t necessarily hate calendars (though some definitely do), but we associate calendars with work, meetings, and many wasted minutes every day and week that we will never get back.
But what if a calendar functioned more like a timeline of your life, going beyond your daily schedule and what’s coming up in the future, and worked more like a bullet journal and a scrapbook? A place where you could see your to-do list; the music and videos you’ve listened to and watched, and when; health-tracking info such as your heart rate and sleep data; email related to contacts and events without having to open a new app or tab; photos to remind you to spend time with loved ones instead of “Brunch with BFF.” What if a calendar was not a place of dread or a source of stress, but actually fun to look at and showed you a larger overview of all the things that add to a life?
That’s the whole premise for a new calendar app called Amie that’s launching today on iOS (also on Mac and the web). Billed as a “joyful productivity app,” the app’s creator and CEO Dennis Müller tells Inverse that Amie is all about helping you build healthy habits, because “if it’s not on your calendar, it’s not getting done.” Inspired by James Clear’s best-selling Atomic Habits, the app is a way to visualize and take action on all of the little things happening in your life — not just work — past, present, and future.
“The relationship most people have with their calendars is transactional. I open it to get the information of where I need to be next, then I close it,” Müller says. “I hope to combat this feeling of the calendar being this place that’s just the launchpad to the next meeting.”
Redefining the Calendar
I was very upfront with Müller about my general distaste for calendar or productivity apps when I received a pitch for Amie. As a person who dreads looking at my calendar and gets a little irritated when friends tell me to find an open slot on their calendar to do something as simple as catch up or grab dinner together, I find the structure of it all too logistical. I prefer my personal relationships with more spontaneity.
But after only a few minutes into our Zoom video call, I started to understand Müller’s philosophy behind Amie, and couldn’t wait to try the app for myself. Seeing is believing, after all.
“I asked myself the question: What would Google Maps have looked like if it was designed not to take you from New York to Boston, but if it was designed to take you from ‘I know nothing about music and can’t play the saxophone now [but want to get there]?’ So I very personally looked and I was like what is the map equivalent? How do you visualize your goals? And I think the best would be to put it onto a calendar because, no doubt, if you played the saxophone every day for one year, you will get better at it.”
From that spark and Atomic Habits’ takeaway that small habits can lead to large, long-term change and improvement, Amie was born. The app (pronounced like the name Amy and not like ami, the French word for friend) takes the existing calendar design and lets you add what the company calls “integrations” to fill it up with important data points that might be helpful for recalling moments or taking action on something.
“I hope to combat this feeling of the calendar being this place that’s just the launchpad to the next meeting.”
For example, you could see heart rate data, pulled from Apple Health, right inside a calendar meeting event. With a tap, you’d be able to see what your heart rate was when, for instance, you had a meeting with your boss or a colleague, and whether or not it peaked at any point. Then, with that data point, you could make some kind of decision, like meditate or go for a walk if you noticed that you might have been stressed out.
Another integration (when you’ve granted permission, of course) automatically adds to the calendar when you’ve listened to Spotify and lists the music that you listened to. It’s novel, but also kind of neat to see it on a calendar, a place where you don’t expect to find recently listened to music.
“Irrationally, what we’re doing is dumb as f*ck because the surface area is so big that the odds of succeeding are very low,” Müller tells me. “But we just found that this is probably how it would have been done 20 years ago when we started out building calendars digitally, if technology would have been as advanced as it is today. So we feel this is how it needs to be, despite not being the smartest idea to have such a big scope. But we see that people love it.”
The integrations that are launching today are nowhere near complete. A built-in email client that brings calendar events, contacts, and your back-and-forth correspondences closer together within the Amie app (currently supporting Gmail accounts) is the marquee launch feature in addition to the heart rate and music integration. Email is also the only paid feature for the otherwise free app. Müller told me in the future they could add an integration that’s similar to the Spotify one, but for recently watched YouTube videos. There’s even the possibility that some rejected prototype ideas, such as putting photos on the calendar to remind you to spend time with somebody as opposed to an event invite, could see the light of day.
“Who wants to put a meeting [on their calendar] with their wife? Not everything has to be a meeting. Not everything has to be like someone being invited to it. It can just be a little reminder that you’re wanting to spend time with your wife, or that you will or that you have.”
I think that’s a great idea. When I look at my phone, I increasingly feel crippled by the amount of apps and their different interfaces and features that I have to juggle. The calendar feels like a very natural place to collect everything in one place, since it’s already chronologically organized.
Breaking Old Habits and Building New Ones
I haven’t spent more than 36 hours or so playing with Amie so I can’t say whether or not its modernization of the calendar will stick or not. The app is still very much a work in progress and it shows. The Apple Health integration was showing incorrect sleep tracking data before launch, and the “bug” was only fixed when I told the company that things didn’t look right. I’m also concerned that adding all these integrations to a calendar could lead to being overwhelmed by all the data points. I break out at the sight of a cluttered calendar.
In Müller’s defense, he’s aware of all of these things. Amie is launching today, but the iOS app, Mac app, and the web portal are more like an open beta. He tells me there’s a way to “collapse” certain integrations to the background of the calendar so you only see the data points that are a priority to you. Even with $8 million in raised funding, including Müller, Amie is currently only a small team of 14 people. Like any startup, the funding will help Amie grow, but at the same time, the small team means it can still be agile and move fast to ship features and also break things. Müller tells me that the bread and butter of Amie is still a calendar for events and meetings, but “we also built a lot of stuff where we just f*ck around and find out if it’s interesting or not.” He points to the heart rate integration as a feature that “zero, not a one” people asked for, but they thought it could be useful and fun to include.
“We also built a lot of stuff where we just f*ck around and find out if it’s interesting or not.”
In the past few years, there’s been a new wave of apps and services that feel like a passing of the baton, if you will. I dumped Chrome for The Browser Company’s Arc web browser over a year ago and mostly use Perplexity instead of Google search for anything non-work related. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that an app like Amie could do the same for my Google Calendar. Naturally, when our chat started to shift toward the future, I asked about AI and whether or not Müller has any plans to inject it into Amie. Everyone’s doing it, right?
“We want to use it purposefully,” he says, and they’ve explored several ideas using large language models to either help write emails that sound like you wrote them or make adding and finding stuff on a calendar more conversational. In other words, it sounds like they’re considering AI, but we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.
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