Google Calendar Sync for Outlook

A couple of days ago Google released Google Calendar Sync for Outlook.  It’s free, so I downloaded it and gave it a test drive.  In summary, it’s not ready for prime time… yet.  It’s major limitation is that (unlike Google Sync for your Blackberry which allows you to choose which of your calendars to sync) it will only sync your primary calendar.  Also, unlike GSyncIt ($10), you cannot choose which Outlook calendar you want to sync with.  Once Google overcomes these limitations, I’m sure it will be a superior product to any competitor’s and of course, well worth the price.

Blackberry Sync Part 1: Blackberry Calendar to Google Calendar

UPDATE: I am no longer using the solutions outlined in this post. See my more recent post about Google Sync.

Like everyone else, I use Google calendar as my primary calendar. Having just bought a Blackberry Curve 8320, I wanted a way to sync the calendar on the device w/ my Google calendar. Fortunately (or unfortunately) there is no shortage of ways to do this. After trying several methods I ended up deciding to use CompanionLink for Google Calendar, and for me it’s worth every penny of the $29.95 price tag even though there are several free solutions out there.

Here’s what I was looking for

  • Direct desktop synchronization, OR
  • Synchronization via Outlook 2002 (paying for an upgrade of Outlook to 2003/2007 is out of the question)
  • Robust support for all day events, recurring events, and reminders
  • Automatic or periodic syncing whenever the device is connected to the PC

Companion link was the only solution that met all of those requirements. The only limitation that I have come across is that it will not sync multiple calendars, but that is not a deal killer for me. I should also say that I was not able to get it to work properly until I found this set up guide.
Here’s some of the alternatives that I didn’t choose and why.

Desktop Syncing Solutions
It seems like there are a lot of Outlook 2003/2007 plugins that will do what companion sync does for free or at least for less money. That’s great if you have Outlook 2003/2007, but I don’t so I couldn’t really say how well these work or don’t. Maybe they’ll work for you.

“Over the Air Syncing” Solutions
The appeal of over the air syncing is obvious since you don’t need to be tethered to a PC to sync. The reality, however, is a little different. Many limit the number of days ahead that can be synced (for data traffic reasons), and some require pretty heavy tweaking of your network connection settings – which can be problematic for other apps on your device.

  • GCalSync (free) – You get what you pay for. I was able to get this working after tweaking some connection settings, but the resulting calendar events on the hand held were off by several hours. Although there is a fix for the apparent timezone issues, I would still say that this is not yet ready for prime time since it does not support recurring events, reminders, and it even messes up all day events. Furthermore you must manually start the sync each time.
  • GooSync – This is really just a service that will provide a SyncML host for your Google calendar data. It requires a download of a separate SyncML client app for $19.95. I could not get the client app to work at all, so my money and time go elsewhere.

“No Sync” Solutions
You may even wonder why I would want to sync at all since I can access my Google calendar via the Blackberry web browser or Opera mini. Mainly it’s because even though my Blackberry’s screen may be tiny, I like to start out by looking at a whole month, not an agenda. And what happens when I want to see if I’m free some day 3 months from now? That being said, the mobile web version of the Google calendar does fill in the gap nicely when my Blackberry’s calendar may be out of sync, or if I need to see something on one of the other calendars (besides my primary calendar).

Hopefully, Google will soon release a mobile app for their calendar just like the ones for gmail and maps. Then we can put all this unpleasantness behind us.