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Unless proven otherwise, this will be another blog that I’ll fail to update after a week or so.

iPhone App review: Sync in a Blink

Want your Exchange account back from GoogleSync?  Still want to push calendars and sync contacts both ways?  Read more here.

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Filed under: iPhone, iPhone Apps, Reviews, , , , , , , , ,

How to wirelessly sync your iPhone with Google Calendar: Hello, Saisuke.

After writing about how I’ve managed to sync my Outlook, Google Calendar, and iPhone harmoniously together, I soon became obsessed with how to achieve this feat wirelessly or OTA (Over The Air), if you will. After a good hour (maybe more) of searching, I realized that my options were limited. In the free corner (where I like to spend most of my time), there was a workaround that featured a program called NemusSync. This required a jailbroken phone, and I have yet to explore this area. Another popular free option was Nuevasync. It turned out that this option was not going to work for me since I have a Microsoft Exchange account at work, and it was not going to play nicely with this program. Plus, I wanted something simpler, an option that didn’t involve me playing around with various settings and options. After all, simplicity is one of the areas where the iPhone excels. Why should I settle for less now?

month view

Pay for what you get.

It turned out I was going to have to go the paid route (I’ve only purchased one app before – Koi Pond, just to see what everyone was raving about – more on that to come). One program that intrigued me was Pocket Informant, by WebIS. I used this program back in my Windows Mobile days, and was blown away by the amount of detail and customization that this program offered. Unfortunately, this app is not out yet, and I just couldn’t wait. Another application that kept coming up in searches and was available now was Saisuke, and the more I read, the more I liked. With Saisuke, you get an upgraded calendar and the ability to wirelessly sync with Google Calendar. Now, I must admit, I liked the native calendar that came with the iPhone. And after discovering how to sync multiple calendars in the colors that I used on Google, I was not able to give up that feature. Fortunately, Saisuke allows me to do everything aforementioned and does it wirelessly. I didn’t realize it until later, but I feel a lot more free now that I don’t have to connect my iPhone to my home computer (I invested in a car adapter, so that’s where my iPhone gets replenished) except for backups.

week

A week’s worth of work

As mentioned above, Saisuke features a calendar upgrade. Most of the reviews that I’ve read rave about the inclusion of a Week view for you calendar. I’ve never been a huge fan of week views, but I do like this one. I prefer the List view, and again, while the native calendar app did a fine job, Saisuke preserves this view nicely and adds the OTA ability. One additional feature is the ability to swipe horizontally. This is a nice option for the day and week views, though in all honesty, it was a bit sluggish/unresponsive at times, so I don’t use it as much. One additional note is that Saisuke is a stand-alone calendar application, meaning it will not sync your native iPhone calendar app. Thus, I moved Saisuke to my front page apps, and moved the now useless native calendar to the back (if only I could keep that icon…)

OTA

The one feature that I was desperately searching for proves to be a major strength for Saisuke. With the touch of a button, I am able to wireless sync my iPhone calendar to my multiple Google calendars. The sync is very fast (under 5-10 seconds depending on number of records needed to sync) though I had to toggle some options to achieve this feat. First, Saisuke offered me the option to sync my tasks since I have Remember the Milk in my Google calendar. This was a major slowdown for the application, so I’m not recommending this setting. Besides, if you’re a RTM pro user, you’ll want the native RTM app instead. Second, there is an option to auto-login to Google Calendar. I found that this delayed startup (naturally), and since I wanted my calendar to start up as quickly as possible (sometimes, I just want to look at my events and not edit them), I disabled this setting. With auto-login off, my calendar loads quickly, just about 1-2 seconds longer than the native calendar app. One setting that I did leave on was the “sync at single edit” option. Whenever I change an item on the Saisuke calendar, the program automatically syncs this event with my Google Calendar. It does this rather quickly, so I’m inclined to leave the setting on, just in case I forget to sync my whole calendar again.

So, is it worth $9.99?

Perhaps, it was because I became obsessed with finding a solution to the OTA sync with GCal that I am extremely pleased with Saisuke. The shortcomings (can’t create repeating events, can’t edit repeating events, occasionally sluggishness) in my opinion are minor, but may be dealbreakers for users who need these particular functions. For me, the important feature was the ability to wirelessly sync and in this, Saisuke exceeds my expectations. As I mentioned above, I am now less tied to my home computer, and more in tune with my calendar. And while Mobile Me may provide a lot more functionality, I’m determined to achieve the most desired functions (OTA sync being one of them) at a much lower price.

Filed under: iPhone, iPhone Apps, Reviews, , , , , , ,

Google, Outlook, Plaxo, oh my! Syncing Multiple Calendars on the iPhone in Five Colors!

After recently getting married, I realized that my schedule is not the only one that I have to take into consideration.  Truthfully, T and I have been together for over 4 years, so our schedules have slowly merged anyways.  However, it’s nice to be able to view each other’s calendar during times when we need to consider making joint appointments.  I’ve been a Google Calendar convert for over a year now, but I still rely on Microsoft Outlook as my main organizational program at home.  On the road, I’ve got my trusty iPhone as my gadget to rule them all.  So, the question is, can they all get along?

Prior to the iPhone, I was a Pocket PC/Windows Mobile user, and Activesync made sure that my Outlook was kept in sync with my phone.  When I started using Google Calendar, I needed to find a way to keep that also in sync.  I can’t remember how many different programs I used.  I do remember some of their funny names, however.  Funambol, GSync, Goosync, and Plaxo were all services/programs that I gave the old college try with.  Plaxo was the one that I eventually stuck with, as it smoothly synched my Google Calendar with my Outlook.  It was not a cure for syncing my Samsung i760 to Google Calendar directly, but I was willing to live without that OTA capability in exchange for ease of use and reliability.  Thankfully, I did experiment with Plaxo enough that it remained on my computer when I switched over to the iPhone.  

Thus, Plaxo was still able to sync my Google Calendar to my Outlook, and with the iPhone 2.1 update speeding up the syncing process, I was now more inclined to experiment further.  Back to my marriage intro, I began to get greedy and wonder, “Can I sync multiple Google Calendars to my Outlook and then to my iPhone?”  Really, the question arose after seeing different colors of calendar items on another iPhone.  I said to myself, “I’m tired of red.  How can I get the blue and green colors?”  

A little google search revealed a nice post that discussed the setup that I eventually stumbled upon myself.  In the author’s post, he reveals how to sync multiple Google Calendars to your Outlook (using Plaxo), which then you can sync to your iPhone (via iTunes).  I can verify that this works smoothly, and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

Now that you’ve got multiple calendars on your iPhone, how can you assign the colors?  I mean, is it me, or is orange to close to red to be assigned as the second colored calendar?  Well, sure enough, there is a fix, and again, I can’t take credit.  Your iPhone can show calendars in the following colors: red, orange, blue, green, and purple.  The trick is that it assigns them in that order.  Fortunately, there is a fix, and the post will effectively walk you through.  However, I will add a suggestion that when you make a “dummy” calendar to take a color, make sure that you have at least one “dummy” event, as my iPhone didn’t recognize the calendar otherwise.  Again, feel free to leave a comment if you have questions.  I promise to respond in a timely manner.

Filed under: Findings, iPhone, , , , , , , ,

Bug Fixed! New calendar items can sync from iPhone to MS Outlook.

Quick note: I am happy to report that the iPhone can now sync correctly with MS Outlook completely.

Before iTunes 7.7.1 and iPhone 2.0.1, I had to enter calendar events on my iPhone as recurring events with repeat forever set and the same day as the end date. With the above mentioned updates, the workaround is needed no more. Events on the iPhone calendar will now sync (as they should have from day one) with MS Outlook without recurrence. Let me know if you are having a different experience or need help with the setup.

Filed under: iPhone, , , , , , , , ,

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