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Keeping in Step 2 – iPhone, Mac, and Google Calendar Syncing, now Better, and cheaper.

Back in August, I posted a how-to on keeping your iPhone (or iPhone 3G) and Mac in sync with Google Calendar all the time over the air, it basically required using both Mobile Me and Spanning Sync with an Always On Mac to make sure your iPhone was kept in constant sync with both your Mac and Google Calendar.

At the time, it was the only solution available to make this possible, now however, Google has made it all so much easier, and cut out all of the cost, in fact, I’m sure Apple is not too pleased about how Google has made it possible to have two way over-the-air syncing with iPhones for free, thus making their $99/year Mobile Me Service all but unnecessary to most people.

Without further ado, here is how to keep your Mac (which no longer needs to stay online 24/7), your iPhone, and Google Calendar all in sync for Free.

A few weeks ago now (and while I haven’t blogged about it yet, I’ve actually used this new feature since day 1), Google setup an ActiveSync server (oh the irony of Google using the Microsoft Exchange protocol) so you can now setup your iPhone to have Push syncing with Google Calendar and Google Contacts (no mail yet, hopefully soon).  You can find the instructions on how to setup your iPhone or iPod Touch for Google Calendar and/or Contact Syncing here.

If you have more then one calendar, Google will let you select up to 5 calendars to sync two-way with your iPhone/iPod, you can find instructions on how to select which calendars to sync here.

On your Mac you have a 3 choices on how you can keep iCal in sync with Google Calendar.

  1. If you don’t need to be able to change your calendar from iCal, simply use the iCal Public Feed Export link from Google Calendar, you use the iCal “Subscribe” feature to subscribe to the calendar’s feed in iCal, and you can see everything posted on iCal.
  2. A better method is to use Google Calendar’s new CalDav Support, which will give you two-way syncing between iCal and Google Calendar, you can find instructions and a simple-to-use tool here.
  3. You can still use Spanning Sync to sync your Calendars and Contacts with your Mac as well, at $20 a year it’s a lot cheaper then Mobile Me, and it removes some of the quirks with using CalDav (like strange sync slowness issues that appear randomly from time to time) by syncing in the background on a schedule.  Also by using Spanning Sync, your calendars from iCal’s perspective are completely native, rather then remote, which makes them work a bit cleaner, of course, the problem with Spanning Sync is the delay, events you edit in iCal may take a little bit before they show up on Google Calendar or your iPhone.

The first couple options will work even if you don’t have a Mac, you can use the iCal Public Feed Export link in any iCalendar compatible scheduling program, and CalDav is also supported in some other scheduling programs (such as Mozilla SunBird).

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