Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Staying in sync with SpanningSync

Two weeks ago I decided that I really needed a way to enable over-the-air sync of calendar and contact data to my iPhone (after having missed a couple of meetings because I had  forgotten to sync manually :P). I basically had three options:

  1. Subscribe to Apple's MobileMe service (99 USD / 795 SEK per year).

  2. Put all my calendar and contact data on Google/GMail and sync with their Exchange interface.

  3. Start syncing using my company's Exchange server.

Well, I'm not about to put all my private data on my employer's Exchange server, so number 3 is out. I was seriously considering MobileMe, but the price tag really puts me off.. They do offer more services than just calendar and contact sync, but I already have working solutions in place for most of those things. Also Apple seems to be doing evil things to  customers who cancel their MobileMe accounts.

So, I'm left with option number 2. So how do I get all my data to Google, and how do I keep it synced with iCal and Address Book? Well, Address Book actually has built in Google sync (at least if you have an iPhone), and the Google Calendars can be accessed via Webdav. But there also seemed to be many potential issues... How to trigger the Address Book if you never actually sync your iPhone? Will the webdav-calendars remain editable? Honestly I'd had enough with all "semi working" calender sync solutions, and was prepared to pay to get something that "just works". Plaxo had been doing a good job of keeping my different Macs in sync, but could not help me with my iPhone, so it was time to find some other solution.

So I found SpanningSync. SpanningSync does exactly what I wanted, i.e. sync OSX calendars and contacts with Google/Gmail. After some initial problems, where repeating events seemed to get infinitely duplicated, most things seem to be running smoothly now. Basically I only have two issues: 1) reminders don't get synced, but instead get the default value for the given calendar (woke me up at 2am once!), 2) you can't choose the color of the calendars on the iPhone (issue with iPhone, not Google or SpanningSync). But besides this, my data stays in sync across 3 different Macs and one iPhone (but don't enable PUSH on the iPhone, it will drain your battery in less than a day!).

Today my 15 day free trial was (almost) over, so I went ahead and coughed up $20 (after the $5 discount) to get a one year subscription. I am, however, quietly hoping that Exchange will be naively supported in the next OSX version, so I won't have to continue paying for this... ;)

PS: If anyone reading this is planning to buy SpanningSync, feel free to use my referral code VHKESR and we'll both earn $5.