iPhone, Calendar and Google Calendar Syncing

I have spent months looking for a solution that would allow my family share a calendar, via iCal, on all the Macs and iPhones that are in the house. I’ve tried everything short of writing the code myself — and I was seriously thinking about writing it! Unfortunately life isn’t standing still as I try to resolve this issue so I’ve had to break down and look at some premium services that would allow me to make all my synchronization issues go away.

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You name it, I’ve tried it. Everything from Nueva Sync, Mobile Me, a private Leopard Server, Google inherient tools, GCalDemon, I even hacked my iPhone and used NemuSync. Each one of these solutions would have worked for ME — but not for my wife or the rest of the family as they are either too complex, too buggy, or in the case hacking my phone, not supported (not that I’m looking for support per se – but I’m not going to be trying to fix any hacked iPhone in the near future — too much trouble.)

Now my requirements seem pretty simple – but apparently it’s more complicated than I thought. I have a number of calendars I want to share: Mine, my wife’s, family events, “misc events”. My wife and I are the power users and will be making most of the changes to the calendars. We both have own Macs and iPhones. The kids have their Macbooks, iPhone (my oldest), and iPod Touches. I want to be able to be anywhere make changes or view the calendars. I don’t need Over-The-Air updates (it would be nice, but not a requirement.) Changes can wait to be updated when I, or my wife gets back home to synchronize with our Macs. Plus – I want to use as many of the built-in tools that come with Leopard – Mail, iCal, etc. as much as possible (cuts down on costs and I don’t have to train the users on how to use all the tools.)

The main technical hurdle is that the iPhone will only update local calendars in iCal. Thus a majority of the tools would work, but would require additional workflow and/or automation to ensure that any modifications to local calendars were synchronized with GCal calendars. — I wanted a clean solution: give me a tool that did the synchronization of local calendars to GCal with no effort.

In my MONTHS of research and experimenting, two names keep popping up: BusySync from BusyMac and Spanning Sync from Spanning Sync, Inc.

Both would do the job i needed – basically allow the local calendars in iCal to be synchronized with GCal calendars. The deciding factor? COST!

BusySync is offering their tool for $25 per seat. In my case, with a family of 6 (and even more machines), that comes to a nice round number of $150! (Yes, there are some rebates and discounts to be had.) Spanning Sync on the other hand has a different licensing model: $25/year or $65 lifetime for each Google user name in use. Since GCal allows users to create multiple calendars per Google account, I only need one license. Pretty simple math really.

I’ve already downloaded the trial software to test the service out. I’ve been using it for a few hours and I’m already impressed. My next step is to install it on my wife’s machine and work through my workflow tests. However, I think it’s going to be a no-brainer and I’ll be shelling out the $65 before the end of the week.

-JT

3 thoughts on “iPhone, Calendar and Google Calendar Syncing

  1. John, thanks for sharing so much information on your quest to get all your family’s calendars in sync! Let me know if you ever come across a solution for non-Google Calendar users. Ideally, I’d love to get iCal Server working, and over-the-air at that. Thanks again.

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