Google Sync: Taking the iPlunge

By Aaron

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Google recently announced they had licensed ActiveSync from Microsoft. The same ActiveSync that Apple licensed to bring you MobileMe for $99 a year. Well, you do get more with MobileMe, but Google isn’t charging anything either.  Also, with most of Google’s applications, it is considered beta software. But beta software is half the fun. The other half is spending hours reading the documentation and forums trying to figure out how to make it all work. Hopefully we can save you some of that “fun” if you want to plunge into Google Sync and see if it is right for you.

First off, Google Sync doesn’t sync email yet. If you had dreams of free push email from Google, abandon all hope until Google says otherwise. But you can sync up to 5 Google calendars and your contacts. Syncing your calendar and contacts on your iPhone will remove whatever contacts and calendars you have on your iPhone. Google’s documentation tells you this and warns you over and over to make a backup. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Syncing from Google to your iPhone is fairly easy. However, the information about completing the circle back to your desktop is spread out over the web.  So let’s get started.

First, follow Google’s directions for setting up your iPhone. Now you’re all synced up, right? Well, sort of. If you are syncing calendars, you will need to tell Google which of your calendars you want to sync (if you have more than one). To do that, fire up Safari on your iPhone and head on over to google.com, sign in (if you need to), then select “more” from Google’s menu bar. Included in the list of Google services is Google Sync.

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Selecting Sync will take you to an area where you can enable your iPhone to sync calendars and which calendars you want to sync.

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Now your calendars (or at least 5 of them) should now be synchronizing over the air.

In order to complete the calendar circle, we need a way to sync iCal to Google’s calendars. That way, you can add calendar items at your desktop and have them sync too. Google has created an app called Calaboration which you can download from here. When you run this app it will prompt you for your Google user name and password. From there, it will list your calendars and you can choose which ones to be used with iCal. Once you’ve made your selection, you can open up iCal and add items to your Google Calendars.

Using Calaboration

addressbookAddress Book Syncing

Address Book doesn’t require any extra software to sync with Google. To enable this you need to open Address Book and go to Preferences. Under the General Preferences section you will need to enable ‘Synchronize with Exchange’ and ‘Synchronize with Google’.

picture-9To set up the synchronizing with Google, click on the ‘Google…’ button and enter your Google email address and password.

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Exchange is slightly more involved,  but not by much. You will need to again enter your Google email and password as well as the URL to the exchange server.

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The URL for the Outlook Web Access Server is https://www.google.com/a/google.com. As you can see, it will sync up every hour to get new contacts. But this isn’t a cooking show where we’ll come back in an hour to see if things are done. Let’s speed things up by with iSync. Open iSync and select Preferences. Check ‘Enable syncing on this computer’  and ‘Show status in menu bar’.

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Once that is done you can close iSync. The iSync status icon will in the menu bar and you can click on the icon and select ‘Sync Now’ and iSync will do the rest.

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It will take some time for iSync to complete, but your mileage may vary depending on connection speeds and the number of contacts. But now synchronization works not only from Google to your iPhone, but also from your desktop too.

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