A few weeks ago, Jenn and I were talking about how to best manage our family calendar. The “send an invite” plan just wasn’t working. One of us would forget to send an invite, or we wouldn’t add it to the calendar at all. When Jenn got her new Android phone, it all came to me – why don’t we use the awesome features of Google Calendar.

For Jenn it was easy, since she uses Gmail/Outlook for both work and personal – I set up the stock Google Calendar Sync, and she was up and running in a matter of minutes.

My setup was a bit more complex. I use Outlook Categories to keep my calendar items separate from Work/Personal/Church, etc, so the Google Calendar Sync wasn’t going to cut it. I did some searching, and found a little tool called SyncMyCal.  there’s a free version, but from what I read, the features of the full version would make it worth the $25.  I spent a rainy Sunday afternoon getting everything configured.  The calendar piece worked pretty quickly.  It supports syncing specific Categories to different Google Calendars, which preserves at least a bit of my color coding from Outlook.

The fun part is the built-in contact syncing.  I’ve used Plaxo Premium (via Comcast) for the past couple years to keep my contacts clean, synced, and de-duped.  The problem had been that Gmail/Google only had 1-way syncing, so Google was always out of date.  SyncMyCal fixed that…the contact syncing took about 4 hours to process initially, but once it was done, I have completely in-sync contacts and calendars across my Google account, Outlook, Exchange, and my iPhone.  It’s not perfect, as my contact pictures (which are auto-imported from Facebook/LinkedIn) do not update in Google Contacts, but it’s a start.  Now when someone calls my Google Voice number, I see/hear the right name.
We have a bit of tweaking to do, as Jenn’s phone now has my full work calendar, but I’m excited to start using more of Google’s awesome services.   Now if I could just find a good use for Google Wave.