January 18th, 2010
Once again I must curse Google for being so good. I try so hard not to let them get their tentacles everywhere, but damn…
I like to keep my cellphone and computers in sync (contacts and calendar mainly). I’ve written about this before; I actually became one of the few True Adepts of the synce / opensync stack just so I could make my Windows Mobile phone and GNOME desktop make beautiful music together.
Yet even this had problems. I couldn’t really sync my laptop too (well, there are ways you could hack it up, but they’re all awkward). I had to plug my phone in and run some actual sync application to get the sync done – drag, drag, drag. And opensync keeps threatening to go 0.40 and probably stop working.
So today, for whatever reason, I decided to look at different ways of doing it, and lo and behold…the answer is Google. Sigh. I really wanted to avoid putting much personal info into any of my multifarious Google accounts, but I’ve given up on that noble goal for this one. Google’s calendar and contacts stuff uses open protocols – the calendar actually supports WebDav. This means Evolution is quite handy at syncing with Google, so that’s one end of the equation. At first I found a thing called gmobilesync for the cellphone end of things; it synchronizes Windows Mobile’s calendar data with Google’s via CalDav. You have to run the app manually to make it sync, though, and it didn’t do contacts. Looking for something better (and for contacts) I found the rather handy info that Google provides many many sync options of its own – including, very nicely for me, ActiveSync support. You can just configure your phone to sync via ActiveSync and tell it to use Google’s server, and it will sync contacts and calendar (and email if you like) over the air, automatically. So the upshot of this is that my laptop, desktop and phone now all share the same calendar and contacts, via Google. If I create a contact or appointment on any of them, it appears on all the others. All over the air. It’s like the future and stuff!
My tiny tip on this: the only way you can see your contacts in Google’s web interfaces, as far as I can figure, is in GMail. But Google will happily *store* and *sync* contact data for an account that’s not a GMail account at all – you don’t need to setup an empty GMail account just to handle contact synchronization, if like me you don’t want to let Google anywhere near your email (I’m still hanging onto that one).