Sync Google Calendars, Contacts Over-the-Air For Free

25 Comments

nuevasyncI admit it: my phone is never more than an arm’s length away from me during every waking second of my day. My job is to be connected and a handset allows for that. I used to use a Hosted Exchange server with a Windows Mobile phone and the experience of having my mail, contacts, calendars and more synchronized over the was simply superb. Moving over to Google (s GOOG) for those same items has left me slightly disappointed, mainly because I don’t connect my iPhone to a PC or Mac. Over-the-air synchronization is the way to go in my book; after all, isn’t the phone able to wirelessly connect to my data on Google’s servers?

Google has just enabled offline support on the web
GooSync service James just demonstrated on a video

Some Googling yielded a beta service from NuevaSync. It’s free for now and it sounded like it would do the trick for me, so I gave it a go this week. It didn’t take long for me to be sold on the service… if you can be “sold” on a free service that is. ;)

In terms of data, NuevaSync currently supports Google Calendar for events and both Google’s Gmail and Plaxo for contacts. I haven’t tested the contact synchronization yet, but that’s mainly because I’m not thrilled with Google’s offering in this area. From a device standpoint, NuevaSync works with Apple’s (s AAPL) iPhone and iPod Touch 2.0 as well as Windows Mobile devices. BlackBerry handsets should also work with NuevaSync, but the company points out that there’s already a decent solution directly available from Google. Nokia (s NOK) E- and N-series devices that use Mail for Exchange are also supposed to work with this synchronization service. Obviously, there’s no need to support the G1 Android handset since it natively supports Google’s services.

nuevasync-setupCreating an account with NuevaSync was a simple process; not much more than registering an e-mail address and password. Before setting up my iPhone to use the service, I configured NuevaSync’s features on their web site. The configuration page is mobile-friendly, so you can edit settings from your handset.

Here in the screen-shot, you can see I only have the Calendar service active. There are options for Email and Tasks, but selecting them only gives you the Disabled option. NuevaSync is still working on these and that’s fine for me: e-mail is working perfectly fine with the native Mail application on my iPhone and I’m currently testing Things! to manage my tasks.

The Calendar synchronization I’m using with NuevaSync supports either a regular Google account or a Google Apps account. I have both as I’m using regular Gmail for personal use and my GigaOM e-mail, which is a Google Apps account, for work. Unfortunately, you can’t synchronize calendars on two different Google accounts. I’m still deciding which is more important to me: personal or work.

The good news is that you can sync up to eight calendars per account. That’s great for me since everyone in my family has a shared Google Calendar. There’s mine, Barb’s, Tyler’s, Sydney’s and even my ex-wife’s. We use this method because we’re all scheduling different activities with the kids, some of which fall on weekend’s when Tyler is with me and some when he’s with his mom. It’s a great system for us and I can use NuevaSync to have all of these calendars sync both ways on my iPhone over-the-air.

For my testing, I actually opted for my work calendars. In Google, I have access to my own work events, the ones that James has on his GigaOM calendar and events on the global or main GigaOM company calendar. This comes in handy for times like CES when James and I are running different directions: each of us knows where the other is based on the calendar.

Initially, I was concerned about using a third-party service for this. I figured that I’d have to provide NuevaSync with my GigaOM Google Account credentials. If that was the case, I wouldn’t have done it. However, I was pleased to see that NuevaSync never asks for those credentials; instead, they use OAuth to communicate with Google on your behalf. This is an open protocol to allow API authorization. When you set up your NuevaSync services, Google will ask you to provide permission for NuevaSync to access your account, but they never actually have your account credentials. I recommend you read the NuevaSync Privacy Policy if you’re unsure about using a third-party with your Google account as there is minimal data storage involved to use the service.

The service actually works over as a Microsoft Exchange account, so there’s about ten steps to get it going on your iPhone. They’re simple and took me all of five minutes to run through. If you’re already synchronizing with a Microsoft Exchange server, you can’t use this service in addition to your current setup. Then again, if you’re using an Exchange server, it’s unlikely you really need this. ;)

google-calendars-iphoneSo how is it working? Stellar for me so far! I opted to sync all three GigaOM Google Calendars, although I could have picked just my own or any combination of two, and in less than two minutes, all of the calendar data was on my iPhone. I’ve created new events on the web and they flow right down to my handset over-the-air. Although I don’t typically set reminders for my events, I tested that by setting one on the web. Sure enough, the reminder popped up at the appropriate time on my handset. It was no different than setting a local reminder.

One HUGE word of caution before you run off and try this service on your iPhone. Using NuevaSync will completely wipe out your Contacts or Calendar events (or both if you use both services) the first time it synchronizes. This isn’t exactly their fault: they indicate that iPhone is designed to clean the slate when you set up a new Exchange account. Since I wasn’t using the native Calendar app at all (for 19 months, mind you!), this didn’t affect me.

NuevaSync solved a long-standing problem for me and best of all, it’s currently free. Yes, it is a beta so you may experience issues. However, it beats the constant need of physically tethering my iPhone and leverages the strengths of the data connection in my handset. Isn’t that what it’s there for?

If any readers give this a try on another supported device like Windows Mobile or a Nokia handset, I’d love to hear if your experience is as positive as mine.

25 Comments

Carlo

nokia 5800. configured in 5minutes. sync is working on Calendar (10 gcalendar both personal and read-only) and contact (the only I have activated on free account).

First step requires a complete sync (wiping the mobile content) to bypass a system error message.

Bill

Wow, that is a fantastic option from Google. I guess that the pressure is on since Microsoft has a product out in beta. I would like to give Google sync a try, but it looks as if it will delete my calender from Exchange too [although it’s the same]. I read that iPhone and Google contacts were merged, but have no proof. The competition goes on! You gotta love it…more free toys for us.

xnnc

Created an account to test it, but, in the same while, learned that google launched google sync for all mobile phone… Then used google sync for ;y contacts, just pretty cool ;)

Jimmy Leung

Bill and everyone else, I tried out NuevaSync and was quite satisfied with the results. I did not need to supply my Google password.

I just wanted to say Thanks!

Bill

Since I’m just a Mac enthusiast, not an IT guy, I tried to Google search how our passwords magically get from our iPhone to Google via these two methods. Although I was not successful finding it out, I did find a multitude of hits showing how popular Nuevasync is becoming. Even Paul Thurrott uses it! Wow!

Kevin C. Tofel

Bill, I’ll definitely take a closer look at Saisuike as it sounds useful. You’re dead on with the Exchange limitation, as that’s an iPhone issue and not due to a third party. Thanks!

Bill

I may have gotten confused with the sign up for Nuevasync. I did not use it as it would erase my Exchange account, replacing it with Google. I read at another website that they want your PW. I just checked and you are correct, they claim they don’t need your PW.
I was just looking for a better calendar than the iPhone’s calendar. I found it with Saisuke, but had to pay 10 bucks. If you like the iPhone calendar, and your PW is secure with Nuevasync, then it sounds like Nuevasync is for you. I still would give Saisukefree a try. that’s what sold me [or got me to buy of course]. The month view with text is just what I wanted, replacing DateBk 6 on my Palm. Good luck with Nuevasync.

Bill

Kevin C. Tofel

Bill, are you sure you tried NuevaSync? They do *not* ask for your Google account password on their site. Ever. They do ask for your Google account ID and Google will then ask you if you’re allowing NuevaSync to access your data on your behalf.

You do need to enter your Google credentials on your iPhone (just as you do with Saisuke), but NuevaSync uses the OAuth API to retrieve your Google data. Using OAuth and your authorization, they provide this service. They do *not* do it by asking for your Google password.

Bill

Jimmy, in the Preferences area of your iPhone, there is a Saisuke preference that you must type in your email account address and your password. You do it on your iPhone, not at any site. At some point, you must type a password to connect to Google. I feel more comfortable doing it on my iPhone than at some ‘free’ site. Since you pay for Saisuke, I think they would be a little more cautious with your password than a free site, IMHO, if they see it in any way. You can go to there web site and check it out as well as email them. Will Nuevasync answer your emails? What do they do with your password? You give it to them right at their site. I’m just saying ;)
Remember, I cannot use Nuevasync and my own Exchange server on the iPhone as you can only use one. But I was kind of turn off when they asked for my password right at Nuevasync site, then read that only one Exchange account is possible on the iPhone, so it was out. But what do you want for free?

Bill

Cptnodegard

Very nice! Just signed up and set it up, now I can get my school’s schedule on my itouch. Has to be the most elaborate calendar setup ever – a PHP script drags the calendar file off the school server and gives it to google calendar (had to do that to circumvent anti spider system om the server that prevents google from getting it directly) which then gives it to nuevasync and it ends up on the ipod. So, school server -> my server -> google -> nueva -> ipod.

Jimmy Leung

Bill, the reason why I choose to manually sync from my desktop rather than use a 3rd party is for security reason. Correct me if I am wrong, but don’t you need to provide SaisukeFree sync service with your google password? (If not, I will definitely give it a shot).

Since I do use Google Checkout service which does have my credit card information, I would rather not share that login/password with anyone.

Bill

Jimmy, try SaisukeFree [it’s free] from the app store. It does not require Exchange to sync with Google calendar, and you can use both Saisuke with the iPhone’s calendar set up for your Exchange account as it is not affected by Saisuke.. I use Exchange with Entourage. Exchange syncs with iPhone. But, I also used Outlook on my PeeCee to sync with Exchange and google calendar so that I can use Saisuke. They all sync with each other. I understand that iCal can be used with Google calendar, but I think that you need to import rather sync. That’s the problem with Windows Live calendar, you must export from Outlook, then import to WinCal. If Google can do sync with Outlook, then why can’t Microsoft?

Jimmy Leung

I use Outlook at home connecting to GoDaddy’s Exchange server. I also run Google Calendar Sync (free Windows app) on my home computer.

The app syncs Google Calendar with my Outlook… Outlook then updates the Exchange server which then syncs to my iPhone. Sounds cumbersome but this works very well me.

However, this method will not support contact syncs. I only use Outlook for contact management.

BILL

I use SaiSuke as well. It has it’s own calendar which has a month view with text, and is fantastic. There is a free version that syncs only the current week, I guess for a trial. But you can change the date of your iPhone, one week at a time and sync as much as you want, if you don’t want to pay $9.99 for the app. I did 3 months of data by changing the date around 12 times. The after a while of proven good use, I bought it. I like it better than iPhone calendar which syncs with my Exchange server. I think that you can only have one Exchange account on the iPhone, so Neuvosync is not an option for me if I want it to use the iPhone’s [limited] calendar.

Thunderbird fan

If you have a mobile device that can load and run Thunderbird, you can get the add-on called Synch Kolab that allows you to use an IMAP server to store contacts and calander stuff too… of course we all know that Google is doing a IMAP service too (question next is if you can use Synch Kolab with their IMAP… and there is also a Thunderbird add-on that will let you do more with GMail and IMAP too… see these links:

Google these articles:
Geek to Live: Sync your address book via IMAP
Geek to Live: Sync Google Calendar and Gmail contacts to your desktop

Thunderbird fan

If you have a mobile device that can load and run Thunderbird, you can get the add-on called Synch Kolab that allows you to use an IMAP server to store contacts and calander stuff too… of course we all know that Google is doing a IMAP service too (question next is if you can use Synch Kolab with their IMAP… and there is also a Thunderbird add-on that will let you do more with GMail and IMAP too… see these links:

Geek to Live: Sync your address book via IMAP
http://lifehacker.com/software/thunderbird/geek-to-live–sync-your-address-book-via-imap-239054.php

Geek to Live: Sync Google Calendar and Gmail contacts to your desktop
http://lifehacker.com/software/google-calendar/geek-to-live–sync-google-calendar-and-gmail-contacts-to-your-desktop-251279.php

seth

just started using neuvasync earlier this week on my htc diamond. so far so good, i had one little problem where it doubled up events in my google calendar and outlook calendar. i’m guessing that is because i had installed a different rom and resycned to nuevasync, so it doubled things up. anyway, this has been perfect other than that to keep my work (outlook/exchange) and personal calendars (google cal/ical) all in sync on my phone and to my mac at home and to my windows desktop at work.

GoodThings2Life

Great news! Now if only Microsoft would get on the ball and add Live Calendar syncing to their Windows Live Mobile app, I’ll be one happy mobile camper!

animatio

after all these years, it is still annoying that you have to connect to outside services on the net to do a job for devices that coexist side by side in the same room, but can’t talk properly to each other. it is really a shame for the whole it industry as well as the users of these products – the non-existence of a common exchange standard (for more than 20 years now, by the way).

notinthoseshoes

I have been using NuevaSync (calendar and contacts) on my iPhone for around 5 months now with no issues. Not so good on my Nokia E51, could only get the calendar to sync, contacts would freeze during sync after receiving a couple of entries. I like the way the NuevaSync (Exchange)account details are held in the iPhone back up, so when you restore your iPhone (if for example you have fallen into a swimming pool and it has taken four attepts to fix it) then its just a case of entering your NuevaSync account password after the restore and you are good to go.

Jason Parrish

I purchased Saisuke from the app store which syncs over the air to Google calendar and is a better calendar app than the built in iPhone calendar. I really appreciate the week and month views with text, and the multiple styles available.

jim

I have been using it for 2 or 3 months. Perfect–never any problems. I don’t do contacts—seemed to me when I set it up it would not sync contacts. I am just relying on my itunes backup to keep my contacts.

bill

Been using NuevaSync since november or so with no issues. Works like a champ!

Rajesh

I have been using NuevaSync for last two weeks and I am happy with their service. Now my windows mobile Dash and iPhone & G1 are all in sync.

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