The blog of Matthew A. Smith and Michael Chappell, on topics from A to Z

Sync Google Calendar and the iPhone Calendar OTA for Free!

by Matthew Smith · August 3rd, 2008 · 42 Comments

GCal + iPhone

Over the past few days, I’ve been enjoying my new iPhone 3G immensely. There are a few annoyances, such as buggy software, a little DRM issue I had with the app store, and various other things. However, one issue that was really bothering me was the inability to sync my iPhone calendar with my Google Calendars. I keep all of my events on my Google Calendar, using several calendars (some of which are shared) to keep up with everything.

Apple does provide the ability to sync (using iTunes) your iPhone and Outlook calendars – unfortunately that requires you to use Outlook along with extra plug-ins to retrieve your Google Calendars, and you only sync when you connect to iTunes. Even worse, I read that you could only sync your main calendar in this manner.

Then I ran across the perfect solution: NuevaSync! NuevaSync is brilliantly simple – it simply provides a gateway between your Google and the Exchange syncing features of the new iPhone 2.0 software. This means that you can sync all of your Google Calendars (bi-directionally) with the iPhone calendar. Better yet, all this happens over the air, in real time – no syncing with iTunes to update your calendars!!

The setup couldn’t be simpler – simply sign up for a new account at NuevaSync, supply your Google account details (you can sync both calendars and contacts if you wish – I chose only calendar syncing), and follow the simple setup instructions for the iPhone. In minutes you’ll be getting synchronized with your iPhone calendar!

The only limitation I’ve noticed so far is the inability to select what calendar you would like to use when creating new events (however, you can see the events on all calendars). New events created on your phone go to the default calendar. However, I think this is an iPhone limitation, or something I’ve simply overlooked. A small price to pay for the huge convenience of OTA synchronization with Google Calendars!!

After reading the post, please be sure to read the comments below for more useful information!

Categories: iPhone · Products

42 responses so far »

  • 1 Tyler Wood // Aug 7, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Hey man. Blackberry and Google already are able to do this through
    Google Sync, made by Google. So Crackberrys are awesomer.

  • 2 Matthew Smith // Aug 7, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Yes, Tyler, I know… unfortunately Google hasn’t made Google Sync for the iPhone yet. However, this approach works great!

    I’m glad you love your Crackberry, buddy :)

  • 3 Victor Mota // Aug 25, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    There’s one problem, the public calendars (eg. IWantSandy Calendar)
    feeds that are put on google calendar aren’t transferred?

  • 4 Matthew Smith // Aug 25, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    @Victor: Wow that’s true – I didn’t notice that until you mentioned something! Guess its a bug or shortcoming in either the NuevaSync implementation or the gCal API. So, disclaimer:

    You can sync all your private and shared calendars, but not public calendars (ie Holidays). Maybe in a later version?

    At any rate, I still find it the best way to keep my calendars up to date. Thanks for the headsup!

  • 5 rob c // Aug 26, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Hi Matt – I can sync my main Google calendar to my iPhone using
    this tool but it doesnt pick up any of my shared calendars ? – any
    idea why not / how to fix ? – no obvious settings / configs in the
    Nueva tool – thanks Rob

  • 6 Matthew Smith // Aug 26, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    @Rob – that is strange. Mine is syncing every calendar that I see in my gCal view. However, I am the owner of the aforementioned shared calendars. Maybe that makes a difference? I know that when someone else updates the events on those calendars, the changes are synced to the phone. I haven’t tried subscribing to someone elses’ shared calendars however (aside from the public calendars like “US Holidays,” which don’t seem to by syncing).

    If I get a chance, I’ll try to get access to a shared calendar that I do not own and see if it works for me.

    Also worth a mention: I had an issue where events were being duplicated multiple times, apparently by the sync process (ie three copies of the same event would appear on google). I was able to remedy this by 1) removing the duplicates using the web interface and then 2) disabling and then reenabling “Calendars” under Settings->Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> [account name]. This seems to fix a variety of problems, though I kind of doubt it will affect this shared calendar issue.

  • 7 Rob // Aug 27, 2008 at 4:48 am

    Matthew – thanks for this – you’re right about ownership of shared
    calendars – the shared Google calendar I was trying to sync is
    owned by someone else and it doesnt show up on iPhone cal when
    using Nueva. I have now set up a shared calendar within my own GCal
    account and it syncs fine with iPhone – 90% perfect ! the only
    thing that doesnt sync across from GCal is the colour coding for
    seperate calendars – any ideas about this ? Regards Rob

  • 8 Matthew Smith // Aug 27, 2008 at 8:12 am

    @Rob – unfortunately, at the current time all calendars will show up as the same color / calendar on your phone. From some quick research, it actually looks like the multiple calendar issue is caused by a limitation in the iPhone calendar app – it only supports a single calendar at the moment. Thus, the “merging” performed by NuevaSync is the only way to get all your dates on the phone.

    Unfortunate, I know – I have about 5 different calendars set up on my gCal account.

    Thanks for the info on the shared calendars, by the way. I would like to see that issue cleared up, but I think it might take a little more research to pinpoint the source of the problem.

  • 9 initram5 // Sep 3, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Nuevasync is dead since two days. :(

  • 10 Biff // Sep 9, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    For all those who want to sync public calendars like “Holidays”,
    there is a simple workaround. Just export the “Holidays” calendar
    to an iCalendar file (.ics) and import it into a calendar under “My
    Calendars”. If you don’t want to clutter up one of your existing
    calendars, just create a new one. Check out the Google Calendar
    Help Center for info on exporting and importing calendars.

  • 11 Matthew Smith // Sep 9, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    @initram5 Yea, it’s a beta service so it has it’s ups and downs. It’s been fine for the past few days tho!

    @Biff great suggestion! Thanks! I hadn’t even thought of exporting and reimporting a calendar. For now, that sounds like a good workaround.

  • 12 jimcubed // Sep 15, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Nuevasync was awsome – until 2.1 firmware came along. Now it hangs
    the iPhone something terrible. I’ve tried everything including
    removing the Microsoft Exchange account on the iPhone and
    reinstalling it. Everything works great for about 5 minutes then
    HANG!!! Anybody got a fix out there – Nuevasync says everything is
    working great!

  • 13 Matthew Smith // Sep 16, 2008 at 12:20 am

    @jimcubed – Do you have any more de3tails on your error? I’ve been having no troubles since upgrading to 2.1 (and so far I’ve actually noticed quite a few speed increases in general). I’ve been able to create and sync in both directions.

    Have you tried a hard restart (hold down the power button until the phone shuts down – don’t use the slider)? Also, as painful as it may sound, have you tried backing up the iPhone, then doing a full format and repair, then restoring your backup? This is just me thinking aloud, I have no idea if that will fix it. But it could be a last resort…

    Also ran across these pages, for those who haven’t seen them:
    http://www.lifehacker.com.au/tips/2008/09/13/iphone_21_update_available_from_itunes-2.html

    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=8076613#8076613

    Small disclaimer: I am running the jailbroken 2.1 firmware, done with QuickPwn. But I doubt that has anything to do with the calendar issue.

  • 14 Jean Luc // Sep 18, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Super ton plan! Nueva sync, ça marche très trés bien!

  • 15 Column 2 by Sandy Kemsley : Bookmarks for September 23rd // Sep 24, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    [...] Sync Google Calendar and the iPhone Calendar OTA for Free! -
    Info on NuevaSync, with tons of good comments discussing the
    treatment of shared calendards. [...]

  • 16 jason // Oct 5, 2008 at 12:11 am

    I don’t think that providing your info to a third party is a very
    good idea. Until google adds a synching utility I will just be
    viewing mine online through google apps.

  • 17 Matthew Smith // Oct 5, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    @Jason: You make a good point. However, if you are worried about providing your Google password to NuevaSync, that’s one concern that should be alleviated – they use the Google site login to authenticate you. NuevaSync never actually knows your password (it’s kinda like OpenID, where you enter your username, then are directed to Google’s login page, then back to NuevaSync).

    However, if you’re worried about your calendar events going through a third party, then yes, that’s a legitimate concern. However, I find the benefits to greatly outweigh they downsides.

  • 18 Andy Wilson // Oct 17, 2008 at 7:18 am

    https://www.nuevasync.com/PublicSite/user/detail-status.htm will
    show detailed information about your NuevaSync account status,
    including which calendars will be synced and why the others won’t
    be. For example, I subscribe to the public “UK Public Holidays”
    calendar, and my status page says that this calendar will not sync
    “because this calendar is not writable by you”.

  • 19 Matthew Smith // Oct 17, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Andy, thanks for that fantastic tip. Somehow I managed to miss that page!

  • 20 Jake Mortlock // Oct 21, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Matthew. Thanks for this article… Im pretty new to the iphone
    and this looks just like what Im looking for as I dont want to stop
    using Gcal. One question… The Nuevasync site makes it pretty
    clear that installation will wipe all my contacts (ill only use the
    calendar and wont sync gmail contacts). Presumably I then just re
    copy from sim? Thanks again

  • 21 Matthew Smith // Oct 21, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    @Jake: When you configure the NuevaSync server on the iPhone, you have the option to only sync your calendar. As long as you do not select “contacts,” you should not lose any of your contacts (you will lose all calendar events on the iPhone, which will be replaced with everything from your google calendar).

    To be safe, I would sync the iPhone with iTunes first; this will back up all of your contacts to the computer. If you delete them from the phone by accident, simply change the NuevaSync option to “calendar only” and resync your phone. iTunes should restore the contacts to your phone.

    Settings->Mail, Contacts, Calendars-> (name of your NuevaSync account) :: only the option “Calendars” should be selected.

    Hope that helps!

  • 22 justa guy // Oct 26, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    i just went to google calendar with safari on the iphone and then
    hit the add button and added it to my home screen, making an icon
    straight to google calendar. no need to use iphone calendar at all.

  • 23 Matthew Smith // Oct 29, 2008 at 10:27 am

    @justa guy – that is one way to do it, however, I preferred to have a synced copy on my iPhone, in case I needed to check my calendar without an internet connection. Plus the calendar app is faster than the web page. But choose your method of preference!

  • 24 Erik // Nov 16, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    This is great and I’m very thankful for the how-to. The question I
    have, though, seems to be the opposite of what everyone else is
    saying. I have about 6 calendars that I have write-access to, but
    are not all that useful to me, as they have events on them that I
    will not be attending (they are event calendars that I maintain,
    but I don’t actually go to the events… it’s just a reference).
    Long story short… Do you know how I can opt to have a calendar
    NOT sync? I just want 2 calendars to sync up, not all 6 that I have
    access to.

  • 25 Matthew Smith // Nov 18, 2008 at 12:23 am

    @Erik – It’s interesting that you ask that. I have not yet found a setting to allow selective inclusion/exclusion of calendars, but it may be something that I’ve missed. When I get a chance to check, I’ll look into it. In the mean time, does anyone else have any helpful tips?

  • 26 Erik // Nov 24, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    It’s not the best solution, but I went ahead and dropped the $9.99
    on SaiSuke. It may not integrate with the iPhone calendar, but at
    least it syncs with the Google Calendar.

  • 27 Matthew Smith // Nov 25, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    @Erik – while it would be fantastic if Apple added some of the features of SaiSuke to the native calendar app (like native gCal sync), it does look like SaiSuke is a pretty nice application. For those of you wondering, here’s the website and here is a quick review.

  • 28 fiskhandlarn // Dec 18, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Jailbreak your iPhone and try NemusSync, works like a charm!
    http://www.nemustech.com/iPhone/NemusSync.html

  • 29 Matthew Smith // Dec 18, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks, I’ll have to check that out

  • 30 Matthew Smith // Feb 3, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Just a heads up, but I just noticed that the Calendar app now supports multiple calendars… and it is syncing all my Google calendars individually, via Nuevasync. You can select the default calendar to create events on under Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Default Calendar (it’s the last option on that page).

    Also of note, it is only syncing shared calendars that I have write access to (calendars like Holidays do not sync).

  • 31 Mat Smith // Feb 10, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Nuevasync, in this respect (iPhone sync of multiple calendars to
    Google Calendar, and Contacts sync) appears now to be largely
    irrelevant since the latest iPhone firmware update which allows
    iPhone to sync directly with Google servers. Hope I’ve not missed
    the point with this. See here for more info:
    http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=138740&topic=14252
    I guess the Nuevasync app could still be useful for Windows Mobile
    devices though. I wrote a blog post about it:
    http://hazymat.co.uk/2009/02/11/google-brings-us-closer-to-the-multiple-device-sync-dream/

  • 32 Matthew Smith // Feb 10, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    @Mat – yes, Google just released their Sync functionality over the past couple of days. Prior to this, NuevaSync was the only way.

    However (and I have yet to confirm this myself), I have heard that Google Sync only supports five (user selectable) calendars to sync with the iPhone. NuevaSync, on the other hand, is happily syncing about seven calendars to my phone.

    I do need to update this post with all the information I’ve learned. Thanks for the input!

  • 33 Checking out iPhone OS 3.0 Beta // Apr 1, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    [...] as any tips and tricks I discover along the way. I also plan
    on making a long overdue update to the OTA iPhone Calendar Sync
    post with all current methods and their benefits/drawbacks. I might
    even get around to finishing up [...]

  • 34 Patrick H // May 4, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Greetings, I just wanted to post that my experinece with nueavasync
    has drastically simplified mine and my wife’s communication
    channels. We have 3 kids and we are constantly juggling who goes
    where and why. What I did was use nuevasync to access my google
    calendar…then I setup my wife’s phone with the SAME login
    information and that allows us both to instantly send calendar
    information to both phones. Granted, you can’t keep private
    appointments on this same google calendar account, but it has
    drastically helped our communications without any more hassle (if
    you want to call it that) of putting an appointment in the calendar
    one time. Beat that ease of sharing. Best thing is, if she wants
    and earlier reminder, she could just change it and update mine.
    Good luck guys.

  • 35 Van // Feb 12, 2010 at 5:12 am

    Great addition. Google calendar is a great feature and i amsurprised that more people dont use it.

  • 36 Karen // Jun 12, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Still a big fan of the integrated blackberry with google functionality. Easy to use. Initially i had an IPhone and had a few problems.

  • 37 Ben // Jul 5, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Google calendar is such an awesome tool and the fact that they have integrated the software with Iphone is amazing. I would like to see the whole suite of google tools also integrated.

  • 38 Ant // Sep 30, 2010 at 8:33 am

    You actually don’t need NuevaSync to Sync Google calendar and iPhone calendar for free
    This is how
    http://www.sync-iphone.com/contacts-calendars-email/sync-iphone-with-gmail.html

  • 39 William // Oct 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    I’m confused; the comments seem to indicate the Google Sync does this for the iPhone, but it doesn’t. If you set up Google Sync on your iPhone, it syncs the Google calendar on your iPhone with the Google calendar online. But it doesn’t synchronize your Google calendar with your Exchange calendar. i.e., if I create an event on my iPhone, I have to decide which calendar it goes in, and it doesn’t automatically show up in both calendars.

  • 40 Robyn // Nov 18, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Update. As of today, NuevaSync is now charging $15 for a BASIC yearly service of pushing calendars onto iPhones. I happened to stumble across this forum while looking for another method to possibly do it for free, but so far NuevaSync is the cheapest per year. Good luck everyone!

  • 41 Matthew Smith // Nov 18, 2010 at 4:41 am

    This article is quite outdated… now you should use google sync. Its free and direct from google!

  • 42 Matthew Smith // Nov 18, 2010 at 4:44 am

    I’ve never attempted to set up an exchange calendar… I’ve only used these methods to sync google and my iphone

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