When Apple announced that the iPhone OS 3.0 would fully support CalDAV with SSL, I was excited to see if this, combined with my Google account, could take over and serve my personal calendar and email needs, which have been provided by MobileMe from the day it launched last year. Google has already had push […]
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Google Calendar speaks CalDAV to the iPhone

When Apple announced that the iPhone OS 3.0 would fully support CalDAV with SSL, I was excited to see if this, combined with my Google account, could take over and serve my personal calendar and email needs, which have been provided by MobileMe from the day it launched last year.

Google has already had push synchronization for a while by means of Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology, essentially the same as Exchange. For many, the iPhone’s limit of allowing only one Exchange account to be configured at a time means this is not an option should we wish to use our iPhones in a corporate environment.

Though MobileMe still provides much more on the level of integration and simplicity, especially if one owns multiple Apple computers and/or an iPhone, the Google offerings are starting to catch up. I’d like to be able to use my Google calendar exclusively (outside of my company’s Exchange) and already share it with other family members, and view their shared calendars as well.

While the Google mobile web apps work well when connected to an Internet connection, they are useless if you’re trying to access your calendar in an underground parking garage or in an elevator or some other place where 3G is blocked and there is no wifi. Having a native app seamlessly integrate my Google Calendar and Gmail information to the iPhone’s local storage, for me, is priceless.

With a little Googling (pun intended), I have figured out how to do just this, and initially it seems to be working quite well using the new CalDAV support in iPhone OS 3.0. Though the synchronization between the iPhone and Google is not quite as fast over CalDAV as either Exchange or MobileMe syncing, (and from my understanding CalDAV is not a push service) it’s not severely delayed either.

If I create an appointment on my iPhone using the Calendar app, then log in to Google Calendar on on the web to view my calendar, the appointment has already synced up. If I make an appointment on Google Calendar from the web, it might not show up in iPhone’s Calendar for 10 minutes or so. I can also close the Calendar app and reopen it, which forces the app to resync with Google.

Here are the steps and settings I’ve used to get this working very well.

On your iPhone running OS 3.0, open the Settings app, tap on “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”, then on “Add Account”, then on “Other”, and finally on “CalDAV Account”.

I used the name “www.google.com” for the server, my full Gmail address and password for the account information, and I called the account “Google Calendar” in the description field (you can type whatever makes sense for you as a description).

I tapped on “Next” at this point, and it verified the settings and enabled the account.

I’ve read several reports where people have said it failed on the verification, and they had to manually adjust the advanced settings to enable SSL on port 443. I didn’t have to manually change any settings, so this may or may not be resolved by now.

Regardless, under Advanced Settings, the “Use SSL” should be enabled, the port should say “443“, and the Account URL should read “https://www.google.com:443/calendar/dav/username@gmail.com/user“. This is what my settings are set to by the automatic configuration, and are what other users are also reporting works.

With these steps, you’ll be able to access your Google Calendar wirelessly over-the-air, make, edit, and delete calendar events, and have these changes replicated fairly quickly back up to Google’s servers, all without having to fork out nearly $100/year for Apple’s MobileMe service, and without having to give up corporate Exchange access for Google’s ActiveSync service. Though MobileMe and Exchange are so much more than just calendar syncing, the iPhone’s support for CalDAV will solve many people’s scheduling needs.

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