Today Google launched their own calendar offering. I created a Google Calendar for myself and my initial review is relatively positive, but not enough to make me a convert.
The definitive positives include the ability to manage multiple calendars, sharing calendars and delegating permissions to access these calendars. Also, there are a variety of ways to get notified of events – emails, SMS, etc.
The biggest negative, for me, is that there is no sync capability. Google allows you to import your calendar from another program, but there is no way to sync a localized version of your calendar, either on a client program, a handheld, or otherwise.
In addition, it does not publish in the iCal format to allow for subscriptions. Why should I only be able to view the calendar on the site? Shouldn’t I also be able to subscribe to the calendar and view it using a portable device? Perhaps the thought is that all portable devices in the future will have a persistent connection to the Internet, but I for one cannot now justify spending a few extra bucks for my mobile phone provider to offer this option.
I understand that Google starts off with limited features and expands its offerings, but this sync criticism is one that I have with a majority of the web calendar offerings out there. My current solution is to use iCalx to host my calendar. Essentially, it is a site that offers webDAV technologies and uses PHP iCalendar. That way I can use a client like Apple’s iCal or Mozilla Calendar to publish and sync my calendar in the iCal format to the iCalx site. Then I can sync the client with my portable device (Palm).
I have no problem using a web program like Google instead of a client program,
but it must at least offer a way to subscribe to the calendar for viewing on other platforms and devices. Google is on its way to solving the problem of sharing and collaborating using calendars, but until they can offer a subscription and a syncing feature, it will not replace my current solution.
I spoke too soon. Google does offer the ability to view the calendar from other applications by offering both an xml feed and an iCal subscription! Yippie! Now they just need to let users create entries from these other applications so they can be synced to the Google calendar.