Windows Mobile phone setup part 3 – calendar

In part 1, I described how I got email syncing to my new smartphone. In part 2, I pretty easily got tasks syncing properly. In this installment I’ll tell you what it took to get my Google Calendar synchronizing to my smartphone.

As I described earlier, I don’t have the proper version of Outlook for syncing through ActiveSync, but if I did, there wouldn’t have been a big problem here. I will admit that at this step, I started searching online for a good deal on a copy of Outlook 2007. Google has provided a piece of software called Google Calendar Sync which effortlessly synchronizes Google Calendar to Outlook 2003 or 2007. I tried it out with a trial of Outlook 2007, and it worked great. Syncing Outlook 2007 to the mobile device is a no brainer, so with the proper outlay of cash, the calendar sync problem could have been solved.

I found another way, though. I did some reading about SyncML and found it can do some neat things. I can’t say that everything is fully standards-compliant and well-defined, but I found a working solution. There are several SyncML server providers out there that let you sync your phone to their web application. Also, on many you can sync your copy of Outlook, Thunderbird, etc. to the server as well with the proper connecting applications. That’s half of the problem solved, but it doesn’t solve the problem of syncing to Google Calendar.

Thankfully, I found a free service that did. I set up an account on ScheduleWorld. The website itself looks a little unpolished, but the service works pretty well. ScheduleWorld provides you a calendar on their website and can synchronize with your Google Calendar and also works as a SyncML server. Using a plugin from Funambol, which runs on your Windows Mobile phone, you can sync the data from the SyncML server to the phone. It all sounds pretty complicated, but it really wasn’t that bad to set up, since ScheduleWorld tells you everything you need to know. I’d be happier if there was a way to point straight to Google for syncing, but maybe that will come in time.

UPDATE: Be careful with ScheduleWorld. For some reason, the web app preference to sync to/from Google Calendar keeps defaulting back to “2-way”. I wanted to sync just one-way (from Google to ScheduleWorld) to keep my calendar safe, but the preference reset itself and now most of my all-day events have been duplicated in Google. Likewise, the Funambol plugin is doing the same thing – resetting itself to synchronize bidirectionally with ScheduleWorld. If you fool with these tools, back up your Google Calendar first (by downloading the iCal file).

I’m going back to the drawing board for calendar syncing… I’m trying out the free version of GooSync and having some luck. It’s limited in the date range it synchronizes, but so far it’s working OK. I’d initially ruled out GooSync because of that limitation, but I’m revisiting it due to lack of other options. The results of my full testing are available in part 5.

In part 4 I take on syncing my contacts.

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