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App-Ed: When Your Favorite App Is Acquired (and Killed)

Sunrise was my lifeline, my calendar. And now it’s gone.

Productivity-wise, technology is a crapshoot. It aims to make life easier and more efficient, but every new app and device comes replete with its own set of problems. There are profiles to complete, features to master, operating systems to upgrade, friends to follow and a new batch of push notifications designed to distract us from our everyday lives.

But every so often comes an app that delivers on that promise. An app that truly does make things more streamlined. An app that’s organized, and saves us the time and anxiety of having to sift through the detritus of our digital lives.

For me, that was Sunrise. An amazing calendar app that aggregated my personal, professional and Facebook schedules into one glorious, easy-to-use to interface, Sunrise, without exaggeration, has made my life simpler and saner.

And now it’s being ripped, unwillingly, from my thumbs.

Microsoft acquired Sunrise for a reported $100 million last February, and will be shutting down Sunrise at the end of this month. My favorite app will be integrated into Microsoft’s pre-existing Outlook app, meaning the only to people to use it will be 50-year-old account managers who still cling to their Blackberrys and wouldn’t appreciate a beautiful UX design if it fell into their laps — as Sunrise apparently just has.

Sunrise was perfect for me from the moment I met it. The interface was elegant, the user experience intuitive. I didn’t need a tutorial to learn how to set a new appointment and email the other guests on the invite — the process was so simple I was able to correctly execute it on the first try. I didn’t need to switch back and forth from my personal and office calendars. Both could manipulated from the same magical place.

Sunrise even offered a shockingly not-annoying Facebook integration. I never forgot a friend’s (or enemy’s) birthday: They appeared in a list every day when I opened the app.

There were delightful stylistic touches to the app. If I named an appointment “Drinks,” Sunrise would change the meeting icon to a martini glass. For “Dinner,” it was a knife and a fork. “Interview,” a pair of speech bubbles. It was just pleasant to look at.

As a smartphone addict with a slight OCD streak, I found Sunrise’s orderliness to be like a morphine drip to the pleasure centers of my brain. Its looming disappearance fills me with dread.

Part of what upsets me most is that I invested so much time in Sunrise, telling it some of my deepest, darkest secrets. Every app requires its users do a lot of work upfront for it to serve them well. We have to integrate the app with our various social media accounts and upload a profile pic and tailor the settings to our liking. Only then does the app provide us the usefulness we crave. I did exactly that with Sunrise, giving it access to my Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Eventbrite accounts.

Sunrise’s blog post about shuttering the app reads, quite literally, as a Dear John letter: “It’s almost time to say goodbye,” the headline reads. Sunrise will be removed from the app store over the next few days and the app will be officially shut down on August 31, the entry reads. “As heartbreaking as this sounds, we’re hard at work bringing the magic of Sunrise to the Outlook apps, with all your most loved features — interesting calendars, event icons and calendar apps.” Yes, for some of us, “heartbreaking” is spot on.

My friends assure me there a lot of other calendar apps out there in the app store, but I’m not sure any of them are for me. Which one will show me a holistic view of how my day should pan out? The Calendar app that came preinstalled on my iPhone? Please. Sunrise’s blog entry says all of its wonderful features will, over time, be transported to Microsoft’s pre-existing Outlook app, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I purposefully ensnare myself in the Microsoft suite of software products.

We tend to mock those who have close relationships with their devices, and it’s probably justifiable. No one should be so attached to a piece of an inanimate technology. But such a relationship makes sense given all the time we spend and effort we put into our smartphones and the apps they’re home to. Great apps weave themselves into our daily routines like friends, partners and co-workers, so when they’re suddenly no longer available to us, heartbreaking may not seem like hyperbole.

Rest in peace, Sunrise. May you go gently … into the sunset.