cpd23 Thing 8 – Google Calendar

Calendar Card - January by Joe Lanman on Flikr
This week’s theme is tools to keep you organized. We start off with Google Calendar. This one is not new to me. It’s a handy tool when it works. On my desktop, it’s great. When I want to access it from another computer or laptop, it’s great. As a grad student, I haven’t really had any reason to make it public. However, I’ve seen it used well in libraries to keep folks updated about summer and holiday hours, special events, and so on.

Benefits aside, I don’t generally use it. Why, you may ask? Because I have an Android phone. For some odd reason, Google products and Android (owned by Google!) do not always play well together. They offer a dedicated app for gmail, but it’s terrible about actually syncing. It does eventually sync, though.

The Droid Calendar app also has problems with syncing with Google Calendar. I had trouble with this back in January – after entering all of my due dates and other important events for the spring semester into Google Calendar on my desktop, it wasn’t showing up on my phone. After a while – I want to say a day or two, but it may have only been a couple of hours – I started looking around online for an explanation. The solutions I found involved wiping all of the stored data for the calendar app so that it would do a fresh sync, downloading everything anew. Definitely not worth the effort normally, but I did it since I had just invested a good bit of time entering all of that info!

Before writing this today, I tried adding a couple of things to Google Calendar on my desktop to see if it would sync correctly on my phone. After close to a half hour (refreshing my widget and going into the calendar app every 5 min. or so), it still was not showing up. I finally found a solution. I had to go in to Settings –> Accounts and select my gmail account… Then click to manually sync the accounts. Not nearly as much of a hassle as clearing all of the app’s data, but more trouble than it’s worth.

I hate to admit it, but this is one area where MS Outlook beats Google. During my practicum, I had an email account with that university; it was one of those hosted on Outlook corporate accounts. My Droid calendar and third party calendar widget synced beautifully with that Outlook account. I entered it into Outlook on my desktop, hit “refresh” on my widget, and it appeared on my phone — which is how I think it ought to work!

I’ve searched around to see if I could find some setting that would explain the difference. I haven’t found one yet. My data settings are to push notifications through if I’m on wi-fi, and as far as I can tell, that should apply to all of the accounts listed on my phone. If you know of one that specifically causes the Google accounts to not sync in the same way as other accounts, please tell me!

I find it odd that Google would not do a better job of streamlining their products. Gmail should work better than my other email accounts and apps on a Droid phone! Google Calendar should sync more seamlessly than other cloud based calendar options on a Droid phone! If I didn’t already know that Android is a subsidiary of Google, I would totally assume that Droid is a Microsoft product trying to marginalize Google products!

Moving forward, I can’t say whether I will use it more, since I’ve found the way to make it sync, or whether I’ll use some other calendar option. That’s likely to depend on how things are done at the library where I get a job. If I wind up in a setting where everyone uses Google Calendar, I will likely complain a lot… Or maybe I will find some setting that is the cause of this whole problem and feel really silly for having so much trouble with it. If I wind up in a setting where everyone uses Outlook, that’s what I’ll use.