Solution: iCal, gCal, and iPhone. A happy threesome

If you followed my previous post about wanting to trade my Kingdom for a way to sync my iPhone, iCal, and gCal, you know that the current situation for an iPhone owner, with a gCal account is pretty much W.E.A.K.

the blackberry definitely one ups the iPhone in this category.

While I’m not 100% happy with my current solution (Thanks commenter Toby), it’s the best solution I’ve come up with so far. My environment is convoluted for sure, but can’t be unique.

Toby pointed me to nuevaSync, which let’s you sync a gCal account through an exchange gateway, which you can then sync to the iPhone. Unfortunately the iPhone can only handle one exchange sync, no idea why.

So I’ve got 2 way Sync from gCal to the iPhone through nuevaSync. Then since I like using iCal when on my mac, or not connected, i use Google’s new calDav support to have 2 way communication between iCal and gCal.

ok mostly there. gCal is my hub, and iCal and the iPhone can talk to it, and get updates back and forth.

Unfortunately since I’m using my single exchange connection for nuevaSync, I had to disconnect from my EUI account. Solution, just as convoluted.

I connected my iPhone directly to the mail server via IMAP, and have entourage (blech) syncing to iCal in an Entourage, which then, mostly, sometimes, will make it up to the cloud that is MobileMe.

I can only imagine what kind of trouble I’d have if I was trying to sync contacts across all these services.

So there we have it. A mostly good solution, to a really stupid problem to have. Thanks Apple, this kind of stuff reinforces why RIM is the business choice still.

14 thoughts on “Solution: iCal, gCal, and iPhone. A happy threesome

  1. Jeff Coughlin

    I've been syncing all 3 for over a year now. I use Spanning Sync (http://spanningsync.com/) to sync between iCal and gCal and as of this summer I use MobileMe to sync between my Mac and iPhone. Works quite well for me (although I don't use Exchange, so I'm not sure if that would be a problem).

  2. Jeff Coughlin

    btw: The reason I currently use Spanning Sync over calDav is because the last time I checked (and this could have changed recently for all I know) calDav makes calendars read-only on the iPhone and I prefer bi-directional calendars and contacts between my Google Apps and my iPhone. (If this has changed, let me know).

  3. jwilker Post author

    @Jeff. I used to use BusySync (like spanningSync more or less, from what I could tell when looking) but my problem with that solution is that it requires a central machine to run the app. That machine is off, no syncing. I wanted something more cloud.

    From what I can tell actually calDav calendars don't even show up on the iPhone :( mine don't at least. when set up in iCal, they don't show up at all on my iPhone.

  4. chris hough

    for syncing contacts the best I have found was a really cheap app in the apple store: http://www.syncinablink.com/ – so far it has worked really well, much better than the itunes integration option, plus it correctly adds your google groups

  5. jwilker Post author

    So does it sync google contacts to address book contacts etc.? Interesting. I've left my contacts more or less untouched. Mac Address book is my system of record pretty much

  6. chris hough

    that app only syncs the iphone over the net, you can than subscribe to google contacts in address book: http://tinyurl.com/4x56fq | http://tinyurl.com/5fejtz , since I will no longer be using my .me account and I am not renewing it this year, i have start migrating everything to google contacts and gmail, nuevasync is exceptional, however, if you already use an exchange account i.e. a corporate email account nuevasync doesn't help.

    So far this is what I have found to work best. I migrated everything to google, setup the contacts sync inside address book (i do not use the itunes hook up because it did not sync my google contact groups and it was a little buggy), in ical i can subscribe to my google cals, and I bring down my mail via imap to my machine at regular intervals. I also make regular backups of my goog contacts by exporting them to a file. While, I am an apple junkie, i think both mobile me, imail, calendar, address book, have a long way to go before I would switch back to .me full time.

  7. Jeff Coughlin

    Spanning Sync also syncs contacts (as I noted above) between Google contacts and Address Book. I'll definitely check out syncinablink though (you never know if there is something better out there – no reason to be tied to just one product :) ).

    Also, check out these screencasts of Spanning Sync in action: http://spanningsync.com/screencasts/

    And no, I'm not just suggesting Spanning Sync for referral kickback (although that would be appreciated). I'm just mentioning it b/c I've had so much luck with it.

  8. jwilker Post author

    Yeah the whole one exchange sync thing is lame. I can't imagine a technical reason for it. Blackberries seem to have no problems that I am aware of.

  9. chris hough

    I imagine they will change that down the road, but who knows. I have been holding off on getting the iphone 3G until the next gen comes out. i love being an early adopter but the kinks can get annoying sometimes. just like the old ipods, when they got to the nano, they were right on!

    just a few pennies for the fountain, lol

  10. chris hough

    spanning sync looks really nice, and I had thought of buying it, but it does cost a little coin :( its seems that this issue is more of a software related probably that apple needs to correct and should so in the future. i wanted to avoid buying an app than apple release a patch to fix all of these problems

  11. jwilker Post author

    Just set my wife up with NuevaSync, so far so good. I'm really liking this solution, I've been with it a few days now. Liking the quickness of moving data from iPhone to iCal, gCal in the middle. Pretty nice.

    The biggest perk, I'm not tied to a machine now. That's huge.

  12. Emma

    Hi John… I've got a question for you that I can't seem to find an answer for elsewhere… when you set Nicole up with NuevaSync, did she loose her ability to set up a second alert on her calendar? Al and I set our iPhones up with NuevaSync and… voila… it worked (yay!), except we no longer have the option to create a second alert.

  13. John Wilker Post author

    A second alert like, 10 minutes then 5 minutes? I'm not sure really. In hindsight I think you're right, I don't recall getting any secondary alarms when appts come up. Never really noticed or thought about it.

    I actually switched my setup from NuevaSync to google. Not sure I'll keep it though. i can only have it handle my main calendar which is weird and whack. Nuevasync handled all the calendars I had in google.

  14. Emma

    In doing a bit more digging, it seems that I'm not the only one to have noticed this problem, but there's not a whole lot about it on the intertubes. I'm hoping that a fix is found. Al and I really liked our second alerts and miss them, but love the idea of having our calendars backed up on Google, just in case the worst would happen to our iPhones (gasp, shriek, and perish the thought). I know, we could just use Google calendar on the iPhone, but I prefer the iPhone's calendar, and Google calendar doesn't have a second alert function that I'm aware of.

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