Google Sync Beta Now Available for iPhone

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Jealous of MobileMe users but not willing to part with $100 and/or wary of its seemingly persistent problems? Have no fear, Google’s here.

Google Sync Beta, that is, which is now available for the iPhone (and Windows Mobile, but c’mon, honestly). With it, you can sync your Google Calendar and your Gmail Contacts over the air, and what’s more, changes on either side are automatically pushed. I know I’m sort of regretting that MobileMe subscription right about now, considering I never use the Photos, iDisk, or Bookmarks features anyways, although push Mail syncing is not yet supported.

Setting up Google Sync Beta on your iPhone is easy, but be forewarned: doing so will delete your existing iPhone contacts and calendar data, so don’t do it unless you have that information safely stored somewhere else. And if you’re currently using MobileMe, disable that first, or you’ll run the risk of pushing your deleted contacts/calendars to your other devices.

Once you’ve safely backed everything up, activating the service is easy. There’s no app to install, and nothing to activate on the web-based side of things. Google Beta Sync uses Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol, so you’ll basically be setting up a new Exchange account via the “Add Account…” feature in the “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” settings submenu. Google has full instructions on their official help page.

I set this up on my iPod touch, once I’d safely deleted my MobileMe account there, and it worked without a hitch. Since my Gmail account is long neglected, and only briefly used in the first place, I only had about three contacts, but their information was there. My calendar was actually still set up from when I’d used it for work, so it had all the recurring events accounted for. Test events and contacts that I created on either side were automatically synced, so the service does indeed behave as advertised.

Probably too early to say, but if Google builds this out a little more, and manages to add support for any of its other web services, I’d say MobileMe has good reason to shake in its proverbial boots.

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