Monday, September 21, 2009

How to share google calendar with family and exchange

Update 9/22: Google must've seen my post and reacted :)
http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/push-gmail-for-iphone-and-windows.html
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A while back I gave my better half my old iphone. I was all jazzed up to be able to sync our calendars, but it turned out to be not as easy as I thought it should be. I know there's mac.me and all, but coughing up all that money to AT&T for their service makes one want to act like their dad with their furnace thermostats. (Thank goodness for electronic thermostats, where you can wage the battle once and be done with it...but I digress.)

Here was the situation:
I have an iphone, have my work mail (and primary calendar) fed through an exchange server, and use google apps (gmail) for my personal email.
My wife has an iphone, and a gmail account.

The mission: Share our family calendar - allowing me to see family events that show up on her calendar, and vice-versa.

You'd think this would be pretty easy, but anyone that's been screwing around with these stupid calendar syncing apps for the last few years knows that it's actually really hard. You can get pretty close nowadays with google's default sharing, and even with neuvasync, but at least when I went through this experiment, neither of those solutions had implemented the ability to notify the invitees if the person adding the event did it through their phone. See this thread and this one as examples of the issue. Notifications *do* work if the person adds an event via the google calendar website, but that doesn't help if you want to add an event through your phone.

But what I did find to work was the above combo + google sync. If I have that running, *and* have auto-accept turned on in my google calendar settings, any invitations that are added to my google calendar account get automatically sync'd to my exchange calendar, which are then pushed out to my phone...voila - near real-time synchonization. This requires an extra step, and relies on the google sync app running, but it solves that problem. Next up - wondering why she still prefers the dead-tree version...

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