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Monday, February 9, 2009

Sync Google Calendar and Contacts with Mobile Devices
By Tony Ruscoe

A number of official Google blogs have just announced that Google Sync – a way of synchronizing your Google Calendars and Contacts with mobile devices – is now available for iPhone and Windows Mobile, and that other devices which support SyncML can also use Google Sync, but only for contacts.

Google Sync, which was previously only available for Blackberry devices, uses “push” technology, which means that any online updates made to either your Google Account or Google Apps account – if your administrator has enabled the “Google Sync” option in the Mobile dashboard – are pushed to your device within minutes using your mobile data plan, rather than having to either dock your device to sync with your desktop applications or check Google’s servers for updates every few minutes like POP3 and IMAP mail accounts.

Since it took me literally hours to make sure all my contacts were entered correctly and synced with Microsoft Outlook when I first got my iPhone, I’ve decided to just try syncing my calendars for now. (I’ve been solely using the Google Calendar mobile interface so had no data on my iPhone to lose.)

Setting up Google Sync on my iPhone was really easy. By adding a new “Microsoft Exchange” account, I was able to enter my Google Account details, select just the “Calendars” option and my iPhone’s calendar was synced with my main Google Calendar in seconds! I guess a future iPhone update may add this functionality to the native Gmail / Google Mail account option to avoid any confusion.

One thing that wasn’t immediately obvious to me was how to get my multiple calendars synced too. By complete chance, I visited on my iPhone and found that you can simply select which calendars you want. After syncing more than one calendar, the events from each one are color-coded in the iPhone’s native calendar application.*

One downside is that you can only add one Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync account to your iPhone, so if you use calendars with multiple Google Accounts or Google Apps accounts, you’ll need to pick which account you want to use as your primary account and share your other calendars with it.

Google Sync is in beta and there are still some known issues, but I’m really pleased with it so far and may even try to sync my contacts one day.

If you’ve installed Google Sync on your iPhone or Windows Mobile device, let us know what you think about it in the comments...

[Via the Official Google Blog, Official Google Mobile Blog and Official Google Enterprise Blog. Thanks Luka too!]

*This is actually covered in a help topic which I should have probably read before writing this post!


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