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When I got my iPhone, one of the few disadvantages was wireless or Bluetooth sync for my Outlook calendar items. Unlike my previous N95, I have to physically connect my iPhone via cable to get iTunes to sync with Outlook – what a pain!
But now, Google has solved this problem. You will need a Google Calendar account for this to work and my below instructions are for PC only. The setup will look like so:
First you need to download Google Calendar Sync – go here http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?answer=98563 and click on the ‘download’ link.
Install the application (you will have to close Microsoft Outlook) and then follow the setup prompts. Enter your username and password to your Google Calendar account and setup a interval period for when the sync runs again – mine is set to 30 mins. You will also need to choose the Sync method i.e. 2 way (updates both Google & Outlook), or 1 way to update either Outlook only or Google only. I currently have mine as 1 way (Outlook to Google).
On installation the Sync will run once – so all your calendar items should get transferred over to Google Calendar in a few minutes.
Now, plug your iPhone into your computer and make a backup on iTunes. I repeat – MAKE A BACKUP!! Don’t email me back saying you lost all your stuff, tough! The next process will delete all your calendar items on your iPhone. So I suggest doing a sync to copy all your iPhone calendar items into Outlook (via iTunes).
Once the back up is complete, take your iPhone off the laptop and click on Settings. Then open “Mail, Contact, Calendars”. Then click “Add Account” and select Microsoft Exchange as the option. Leave the Domain blank and in the Email field, enter your Google Calendar username followed by the password. Click ‘Next’ on the top right corner. It will attempt to connect to a server, but won’t find one. So the next screen will ask you to enter the Server information. Put in “m.google.com” (without quotes) and click “Next” again. Currently this setup only supports Calendar and Contacts (NOT EMAIL – yet). I only use calendars, so I selected Calendar ‘On’ and the rest ‘Off’.
You will get two pop confirmation requests, stating that your calendar will be wiped out – click Sync on both requests and wait a few minutes. Open up Calendar on your iPhone, and you will start see your Outlook items (after Outlook’s first sync to Google Calendar).
So now if a meeting is cancelled or moved around on my Outlook, within a few minutes it is pushed to my iPhone. And note I use the word “Push” – that’s because Google has used Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology to enable this set up. So your iPhone only connects to get new Calendar data when one is available – saving data transfer.
*UPDATE* – I changed my setting to use FETCH instead of PUSH, as PUSH drained a lot battery on my iPhone. Fetch works just as good and I don’t need to charge my iPhone twice a day.
I am yet to see what happens when a new meeting request is sent – and how it will affect my calendar if I accept the invitation via the iPhone (probably won’t work, as I have a 1 way sync set up).
Going forward, I hope Google allows emails to start working in this fashion, as at the moment you have to Fetch it on a periodic basis.
So, has this worked for you as it has for me? Share your experience below.