Another piece of the puzzle. We are still using an Exchange backend but it sure would be great to have an alternative that hooks into an iPhone 3G and the Mac applications (Mail, iCal, Address Book) without dreaded sync.
Right now we use a hosted Exchange and then Entourage on Mac for Calendars and Contacts and Mac Mail for email. Then iPhone 3G plugs into ActiveSync on Exchange. While we cold substitute Kerio Server for Exchange Server, we are still relying on smaller hosters.
Google has solves parts of this. On Blackberry, iPhone and Mac, you can real time sync Gmail through IMAP. However, for contacts and calendars, things are messier. Blackberry has IMAP of course and there is a Google synchronizer that runs on the Blackberry as well for calendar. For Mac and iPhone, you can do Mail, but no answer for contacts and calendars other than very slow isync that is buggy too.
With “Caldav”:http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?answer=99358″ you can now get email on Mac Mail and then iCal for calendar. It is complicated as heck, but the key is to setup an iCal account and then there is a magic Account URL of the form https://email@example.com/user where you type in your username just before the @gmail.com
The sync is then every fifteen minutes on a polling basis and is hopefully faster than the amazingly slow calendar sync between Entourage and iCal.
iCal is nice in that it can show many different “Calendars”:http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/calendars/ like for instance public holidays in separate colors.
It also allows you to subscribe to someone elses calendar. That is incredibly complicated as well, but “involves”:http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?answer=99358&topic=&useful=1&expand_useful=1&#helpful signing online to Google Calendar and then in your calendar, there is huge magic number before firstname.lastname@example.org called your Calendar address. You then add another iCal entry with your user name and password and then type in https://email@example.com/user and you can see it.
Now how do your get your calendar up to Google Calendar in the first place? Well, if you have Outlook that isn’t a problem. “Google Calendar Sync”:http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=89955 does this in real time with Outlook by downloading a little program. It lets you 1-way sent Outlook to Google or even do 2 way. We just need one way.
If you don’t have Outlook around talking with Exchange, then you have to take Entourage and sync it once with iCal and then use the iCal to Google Calendar sync. Basically, you take iCal and choose File Export to create a .ICS file which Google Calendar can “obscurely”:http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?answer=37118&cbid=-q8ybr6bdphj0&src=cb&lev=answer to to the calendar list on the left, click on the Add down arrow and select import calendar.
Finally with “OS X 10.5.3″:http://googlemac.blogspot.com/2008/05/mac-os-x-1053-sync-google-contacts.html you can now sync the Address Book with Google contacts as well which is pretty cool. Just go to the Address Book/Preferences and select Sync with Google.
Now, the only real piece left is what to do with the iPhone, obviously Mail works, but there doesn’t appear to be a real time way to have iPhone sync contacts (you have to go through Mac address book) nor calendar (same deal). But getting closer!