Wednesday, September 23, 2009

iPhone Tips: Over-the-air Syncing of Contacts, Calendar & Email with Gmail

One of the problems that I had when migrating to the iPhone was how to move across all my contacts from my old Sony Ericsson W880i. I didn't want to let iTunes sync with my Outlook as that is reserved for my work contacts (syncing with my Blackberry). Also, I wanted the convenience of over-the-air syncing of contacts.

What I decided to do was use Google Sync to sync my iPhone with Gmail OTA and make Gmail as my central repository for my contacts. So now, I can keep all my contacts in one place and rest assured that it's always in sync with my phone.

Added bonus is that I can use a proper keyboard and large screen to edit all my contacts and just let it sync with the iPhone later. No more squinting and cursing every time I hit the wrong key on the iPhone's touch screen keypad. =)

If you do intend to do this, please do note that OTA services will require data enabled and chew up data bandwidth in the background, so if you are on a pay-as-you-go data service, you might want to reconsider using OTA and just revert to the good ol' USB cable to sync using iTunes.

Ok, now that we got that disclaimer out of the way, here are the instructions (these instructions will also allow you to sync your calendar with Google Calendar and enable Push mail with Gmail).
  1. Ensure that you are on iPhone OS 3.0 or higher. You can check this by going to Settings -> General -> About -> Version. If you are not on OS 3.0, fire up iTunes and download the latest OS from Apple.
  2. From the home screen, select Settings.
  3. Scroll down and select Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  4. Select Add Account... .
  5. Select Microsoft Exchange (don't ask me why...).
  6. In the Email field, enter your full Gmail email address (ie., not just username).
  7. In the Username field, enter your full Gmail email address again.
  8. In the Password field, enter your Gmail password.
  9. Tap the Next button at the top of the screen.
  10. A new Server field will appear. Enter in that field.
  11. Tap the Next button at the top of the screen again.
  12. You can now choose whether to sync your Mail, Contacts and/or Calendars with Google Mail/Calendar.
  13. Ensure that the Contacts service is set to On and tap the Done button at the top of the screen.
  14. You will now be asked what you want to do with the existing contacts that you have on your iPhone. This will determine how your iPhone will sync your contacts with Gmail, so choose carefully!
  15. If you choose Keep on my iPhone, your contacts will be synced according to the All Contacts group in Gmail Contacts.
  16. If you choose to Delete your existing contacts on the iPhone, your contacts will be synched according to the My Contacts group in Gmail Contacts.
  17. I personally prefer to sync with the My Contacts group as Gmail has a tendency to just add anyone and everyone to your All Contacts group and this really messes up the contacts on my phone. The only problem with this is that you need to delete all the existing contacts on your iPhone to do this. Thankfully, I did this earlier on so I didn't have many contacts on the iPhone yet.
That's it! Now, all you need to do is wait for the syncing to complete in the background. You can also kickstart the sync by launching your iPhone Contacts app.

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