Past instalments have seen the installation of Airport Extreme go (mostly) without hitches, and then the deployment of the iPhone Booster rocket go with … er … lots of problems.
One of those problems was with the setup (and continuing function) of the email client, and the other, bigger problem, is the usage of the calendar – or not, as the iPhone has decided. Once again, I make the caveat at this point that there is still Microsoft tech in the home network (a PC, running XP and Outlook 2003), and that is relevant to the issues that come up….
So let’s get started – for a number of years now, key requirements of mine have been to have email on a device (as aforementioned), as well as contacts and calendar. The latter two services/functions have been placed on the device by means of sync with a PC, and have mostly work in a bi-directional fashion (i.e. updates made on device or PC are reflected on the other).
My understanding was that the iPhone could sync contacts and calendar (along with some other cool stuff) with the PC, without issue, through iTunes. And initially, this was correct – yeah, for all of about 4 days!
I soon noticed that although the sync had worked perfectly for all of a couple of days, faults had then developed – mainly that appointment updates were not finding their way on to the iPhone. Then, updates made on the iPhone were not reflected to PC. Oh no, what could be happening?!
A quick trip to Google, and my worst fears were confirmed – Outlook 2003 (on XP) and the iPhone 3G will NOT sync calendars. Calendar sync on the iPhone with Outlook 2003 doesn’t work. Or to say it another way, iPhone 3G will not sync calendars with Outlook 2003!
But how could this be? Surely such a key feature couldn’t have been flushed down the pan? Well for starters there wasn’t much on any official sites (Apple, Microsoft) about this, it was the Internet community that had really nailed down the fact that sync was broken. After MUCH surfing, I found about 10 different solutions to try and solve the problem, including:
1) resetting sync history (in iTunes)
2) restoring the iPhone (via iTunes)
3) exporting calendar from Outlook, deleting all entries, then re-importing
4) applying all windows updates and ‘repairing’ Outlook
Plus about 6 others – literally!
In the end it became clear that even the combined wisdom of the InterWeb couldn’t solve this as it was a fundamental issue with sync. Key amongst the issues were that the iTunes client add-in in Outlook didn’t seem to be able to read the right area/version of the PST file in Outlook – crucially always seeming to find the wrong/old entries, and hence not updating anything.
So, I figured, would MobileMe have the same issue? Would perhaps it use a different mechanism to look in to Outlook – after all, it’s a separate client in Windows. Answer: No. It doesn’t work either. If you try and sync Outlook 2003 and MobileMe, calendars will not sync.
(I should note here that Contacts, Music, Videos, Podcasts, and all that other good stuff DO sync with an Outlook 2003/iTunes setup, although obviously it’s only Contacts where iTunes/Outlook have interaction)
Having read this longish post, you might be wondering have I found a solution. Well sorta, but it’s not simple to configure, and it does use multiple services. On the upside, it does also give you some nice functionality!
For purposes of brevity (and some understanding of what needs to be done), you need to:
- download google calendar sync (a PC widget that syncs your Outlook calendar to a web-based Google holding area, part of your Google account)
- sign up for a service called nuevasync – essentially a hosted exchange server
- give nuevasync access to your Google calendar
- setup nuevasync as an exchange account on your iPhone that only syncs calendar
This has some great benefits:
- near real-time syncing back and forth between PC and iPhone
- you can also edit your calendar in Google, and changes will be reflected both ways to PC and iPhone
- an actual solution to calendar sync!
In summary then, the trials and tribulations of Rocketship Apple continue – some onboard-computer trouble has seen us come off trajectory, but with fixes applied, we are back en-route to Planet Apple!
Again, check out Vlad Filip Mares‘ site for info on how to apply the above solution…
Until next time…..