Over the past week, I have been experimenting with using Google apps (GMail, Calendar and Contacts) to keep me synced with my work.
The thing that prompted me to look into this was that I was having a tough time keeping my iPhone contacts in sync with my Windows Live contact (I had a way to sync them with my Vista machine – but that was not the main machine I used to sync my iPhone and I desperately wanted to get away from having to use 2 machines to sync my iPhone – one for music, photos, etc and the other solely for contacts).
So the first thing I tested out was to sync my iPhone contacts with the Google contacts. This has been well documented by Google here.
Just remember, you need to:
- Backup your current contacts to Google Contacts, as described here.
- Now go through all your Google Contacts on the Gmail site and clean up your contacts. A very cool feature in Google Contacts is that it allows you to merge multiple contacts into one. This is important if you have been using Google Contacts for a while and you have the same contacts in both your iPhone and Google.
Be aware, that when you move your contacts from your iPhone to Google, there is some information that you will end up loosing (such as photos associated with the contact on your iPhone).
- Also import your contacts from Hotmail (Windows Live) into Google Contacts.
- Setup your iPhone to sync with Google Contacts, as described here.
That is it! Your iPhone and Google will automatically keep your contacts synced. In addition, your iPhone will begin displaying appointments from your Google Calendar and keep them synced. Finally, the calendar app on my iPhone is actually getting some use.
Here are some links that you will find useful:
- http://www.google.com/mobile/apple/sync.html – Use this to find documentation and how-tos.
- http://m.google.com/ – Visit this site from your iPhone’s browser to setup which calendars are synced.
- http://mail.google.com/mail/contacts/ui/ContactManager – Google Contacts Manager
Now the final piece of puzzle: Syncing your iPhone’s calendar with your Outlook calendar. Pulling this off for me, meant that I could track my work day and never again have to worry about missing a meeting or forgetting the location of a meeting.
Turns out this is super simple to do.
Visit the following Google site and download the Google Outlook Sync app.
This app will sync your Outlook calendar with your Google Calendar. Run it and set it up to perform either a 2-way or 1-way sync. This will decide if changes made on your iPhone will be reflected in Outlook or not.
And now, you should be completely synced with your work life.
- I still havent figured out a way to get my work email on to my iPhone. Work uses a Microsoft Mail Exchange Server and I dont have POP3/IMAP settings to access my mail on. (The server does not have the settings turned on that will allow for setting up an Exchange mail account on the iPhone). Nothing that Google can do about this.
- It would be nice if Microsoft Mail allowed me to do the above. Live mail is my standard mail and calendar app. But the iPhone support issue is making me slowly move over to Google. (First contacts, then calendar….. will it be email next? and then Messenger!?)
- Havent found a way to keep some of my appointments private on the iPhone (or on my work Calendar in Outlook). This would be nice as it would reduce the clutter as there are some appointments that dont require to be synced. (I guess I might be able to do this by creating groups in Google calendar. But I am not sure how I would assign appointments to a group on my iPhone).
Overall, I am extremely happy with my current setup.
- GMail (manual sync – IMAP)
- Hotmail (POP3 – no sync)
- Yahoo! (push)
- Google Calendar (auto synced with iPhone and synced with Outlook using GMail Outlook Sync)
- Google Contacts (auto synced with iPhone)