Syncing Google Calendar to iOS, Android, and Windows Phone

Technology has a way of going in and out of popularity its has become a fad. The digital calendar has however managed to stay relevant this looming obsolescence. The move from PDA to smartphone has actually demonstrated the opposite, taking our personal calendars and transforming them into real-time collaborative scheduling tools.

However beneficial this added level of connectivity might be, the ubiquity of the digital calendar has created its own challenges. You have to juggle your own personal and work calendars, (and probably some that fall somewhere between). A smartphone or tablet can make this data available to you anywhere, but condensing it into a lean and efficient productivity system requires a bit of forethought and just a few minutes of technical setup.

Here’s a guide through some of the more technical aspects of the process, and by the end you should have your smartphone or tablet tuned up with all the information you need to keep an impeccable schedule.

Syncing with an Exchange server

If you’re looking to set up your phone with your company’s email and calendaring back-end, chances are good that you’ll be tapping into a corporate Exchange server. Microsoft’s Exchange Server software came about in the early nineties when the company shuttered its Unix-based Xenix systems, and it has since become the de-facto standard in enterprise email, calendar, and contact management software. (Though its not uncommon for more corporations to have the companies such as Google hosting their email service, in which case there wouldn’t be any problem syncing your (work) calender on Android devices)

It’s comes as no surprise that iOS, Android, and Windows Phone all offer integrated Exchange support. In some cases, all you’ll have to enter is your email address and password for access to your company’s Exchange server, while others will have to enter custom domains and other technical settings. Gathering these settings ahead of time by calling your IT department or logging into their website will spare you a good deal of frustration when setting up your apps, so we recommend doing that now.

iOS

Connecting an iOS device (iPhone or iPad) to an Exchange account involves a minimal amount of setup, and the process remains largely the same among different versions of iOS. To get started, simply:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Scroll down to “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”
  3. If you haven’t set up any accounts, select “Microsoft Exchange”
  4. If you already have at least one account set up, click “Add Account…”, then tap “Microsoft Exchange”
  5. Enter your email address, username, and password. Leave the “Domain” field blank if you don’t know it — it may not be necessary
  6. Enter any additional settings required to access your company’s server

Push “Next”, and if everything goes well you should be presented with a dialog asking you to pick which services you’d like to sync. With that done, go to the iOS Calendar app itself and tap on the “Calendars” icon in the top-left to choose which calendars to display in the app. You can keep your calendar tidy by selecting only the synced calendars you need to view.

Android

With Android, setting up an Exchange account is just as easy, but there are some slight differences in the process depending on which version you’re running. First, open your app drawer, then tap on Settings:

  1. In Android 2.3 and 4.0, tap on the “Accounts & sync” menu item
  2. In Android 4.1, tap “Add Account” under the “Accounts” category
  3. Click “Corporate”
  4. Enter your email address and password
  5. The dialog may expand, asking for similar settings. If your company has specific server settings, this is where you’ll enter them. Provided that your username and password are correct, the default settings generally work fine
  6. Select which services to sync, then tap done

Within the Calendar app itself, tapping on the menu icon will bring up a dialog with the item Calendars to display. Tap that, then the boxes next to the calendars you want to display. If you’re managing multiple accounts, tapping “Calendars to sync” will bring up a complete list of accounts and available calendars.

Windows Phone

To set up an Exchange account on a Windows Phone, swipe to the app menu, then tap “Settings.”

  1. Scroll down to “email+accounts”
  2. Tap “add an account”
  3. Select “Outlook”
  4. Enter your email address and password
  5. If you’re prompted for more settings, enter them now
  6. Email, contacts, calendar, and tasks are enabled by default. If you’d like to deselect one of these, tap the account icon and choose which ones you’d like to sync

Once the account is added and synced, go to the Calendar app, then tap on the three dots to bring up the settings menu. Here you’ll be able to toggle which calendars you want to display.

Syncing with a Google account

If you’re on Android, you probably already have your Google account set up. If not, adding it in Settings under “Accounts & sync” or the “Accounts” category simply requires you to enter your username and password, whereupon a dialog will pop up asking you to choose which services you’d like to sync.

Other mobile OS’s will require a little more setup before you can easily switch between calendars and accounts. Both iOS and Windows Phone require a two-step process in order to view multiple calendars — step one involves a separate process for iOS and Windows Phone, whereas step two is shared between them both.

STEP 1:

Windows Phone

  1. Scroll right to the applications menu
  2. Scroll down to “email+accounts”
  3. Tap “add an account”
  4. Enter your Gmail address and password
  5. Calendars sync by default, but you can control this by tapping on the account name after it’s had a chance to sync.

iOS

  1. Go to “Settings”
  2. Scroll down to “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”
  3. Tap “Add Account…”
  4. Select “Microsoft Exchange”
  5. Enter your Gmail address
  6. Leave the “Domain” field blank
  7. Enter your username and password
  8. Click Next
  9. A “Server” field will appear, enter m.google.com
  10. Toggle the Calendar switch to “On”

STEP 2:

After your device has synced with Google at least once:

  1. Browse to http://m.google.com
  2. Log in
  3. Tap “Sync”
  4. You should see “iPhone” or “Windows Phone” under “Manage Devices”
  5. Select your device
  6. Select which calendars you’d like to sync
  7. Hit “Save”

Finally, restart your device or force it to sync manually. After syncing the previous changes, a multitude of colorful event items should appear in both Windows Phone and iOS calendar apps. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back — you can now access all of your calendars on your smartphone. Adding events to each calendar is as easy as creating a new event, then designating which calendar to put it in.

Conclusions

Juggling a handful of server settings in addition to the slight variations in how mobile OS’s handle accounts can make the setup process seem rather complex and obtuse, but as we’ve seen, the hardest part is getting connected. Once you’ve done that, all three smartphone platforms offer reliable ways to keep up to date with all of your email, calendars, and contacts. Which scheme you choose will vary by device and your preferred ecosystem, but universal support for standards like Exchange and IMAP have made integrating a personal smartphone into busy work life not only a possibility, but an enticing alternative to a dedicated company handset.

Culled from: The Verge

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