Google Calendar Now Syncs with iPhone

My wife and I are both Google Calendar users. We like the convenience of having access to our calendars anyplace we have web access, and we like being able to see each other’s events on our own calendars.

A few weeks back, I spent the better part of a weekend trying to get my iPhone set up to sync email, contacts, and calendar. For contacts, I’m not quite sold on Google Contacts at this point, so I’m sticking with Outlook. Google Mail syncs easily enough with the iPhone via IMAP. But the calendar… the calendar was a source of great frustration.

Outlook was able to read (but not really sync with) a single Google calendar, but I was unable to get it to do multiple calendars. Additionally, the iPhone would only see the “main” Outlook calendar, and as I hinted at above, the Google calendar events weren’t imported into the main calendar, but rather read as a separate calendar. iTunes didn’t provide the option to sync with any other calendar but the main Outlook calendar. Strike 1.

After some searching, I found out that Google provides an app that would let you truly sync your Google Calendar events with Outlook (e.g. actually import the events into the main Outlook calendar). It wasn’t perfect. It ran at a scheduled interval so lacked “real time” synchronization. If I added a Google calendar event, and then synced my iPhone 5 minutes later (prior to the sync app running), the new event wouldn’t make it onto the iPhone. Also, it could only do a single calendar. We’ll call that a foul ball. Strike 2.

A couple of nights ago I noticed that Google was now offering Google Sync. It’s still in beta (but really, what Google product isn’t?), but seemed like it would finally allow me to sync my Google calendar (and my wife’s) with my iPhone.

Home run!

Google Sync runs by setting up the account via MS Exchange on the iPhone under “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”. After doing this, use the iPhone’s Safari browser to navigate to http://m.google.com/sync and choose which calendars you want to sync. Yes, it allows you to sync any calendar to which you have access via the web. Awesome. One note… if you’re using Google Apps (or Google for Domains), Google Sync must be set up under the “Manage Your Domain” area.

With Google Sync, there’s 2-way synchronization between the iPhone and Google Calendars. Events added to the phone show up online, and events added online show up on the phone. The synchronization is done via Push, so no need to even connect the phone to the computer.

On the phone, events from different calendars are distinguished via little circles with different colors. I’d like to see the ability to assign a specific color to a specific calendar added. But that’s really the only qualm I have with the setup. Other than that admittedly minor point, this is a fantastic solution.