Google gives road warriors a boost with iPhone sync

Google Sync offers multiway calendar and contact sync for iPhone, Windows Mobile devices

A sales rep finally convinces a key client over lunch to schedule a meeting to talk about new contracts. The rep adds the meeting date to her iPhone calendar but forgets to include it on her laptop calendar. She subsequently neglects to recheck the iPhone calendar, forgets the date and blows the potential deal.

Google Inc. today made it harder for users to overlook such important appointments.

The company unveiled a beta version of a new push technology, called Google Sync, that allows iPhones and Windows Mobile-based devices to automatically synchronize Google calendar appointments and Gmail contacts over the air. The push technology is designed, for example, to have changes made to the iPhone calendar or contact list show up on other mobile devices within minutes, said Marcus Foster, product manager of Google Mobile, in a company blog post. The tool also supports SyncML, he added.

"For all of these devices, synchronization happens automatically over the air, without having to manually sync your phone," added Foster. "The connection is always on, which means your information is always up-to-date, no matter where you are or what you're doing."

Dan Olds, principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc., called Google Sync a viable solution for busy business people and others who like to stay connected.

"People travel. They are in cars and restaurants, and they need to see their schedule and know how to get in touch with people," Olds said. "It means you don't have to use multiple calendars and manually sync them up, which is a great convenience. Being able to use just one calendar and just one set of contacts on different devices is much more convenient. It means you don't have to get out your laptop to find a phone number. Or, on the other hand, you don't have to check your BlackBerry for your next appointment when you're working on your PC. It's just much more handy."

Olds said it's also a solid step in Google's march toward owning the desktop.

"A big part of that is the calendar and contact stuff, particularly for business people," he noted. "It is much better if they can see that same information on their phone and PDA, right? If they can do that, then they'd be more likely to use other Google applications."

This move comes more than a year after Google released a tool that allows users to sync Google Calendar with BlackBerry devices.

Last week, Google got a lot of attention for unveiling an upgrade to Google Maps that allows people to track the exact location of friends or family through their mobile devices. Google Latitude not only shows the location of friends, but it can also be used to contact them via SMS, Google Talk or Gmail.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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