For those that want to sync their calendar and access it online but don't want to shell out for the cost of Apple .Mac, it's been a while coming but now there is a solution: gSync from a small company by the name of Macness.
Update Note: I am now using a new tool called BusySync from BusyMac.
Read my quick notes on BusySync here.
Whilst other offerings are available on the market*, gSync excels where they don't by being a cost effective once-off purchase product, and more importantly a standalone utility.
What do I mean by standalone? Let me give you a hypothetical example:
Let's say you've bought a competitive product. Everything is working great. You can access your calendar anywhere. You can share events. Everything Google Calendar offers, you can do... and when you get home it's all synchronised with your Mac's iCal.
Then one day the company you bought the sync program from stops working, gets closed down, goes bankrupt - whatever. Suddenly your Mac stops synchronising with Google Calendar. Why? Because their utility is just an intermediary to their servers, and it's on their servers that all of the communication with Google happens. They go out of business... their servers go down and their utility stops working.
This is not the case with gSync, and due to the complexity of this is why it's taken longer than the others to get on the market. gSync talks directly with iCal and Google Calendar - there is no server in between.
So what does gSync offer for your once-off $20 US pricetag?
- Privacy: no 3rd party server, sync direct to Google and your iCal
- Choice: choose which iCal calendars to sync
- Schedule sync: choose to autosync
- Bi-Directional: syncs between multiple iCal and multiple Google calendar with an override option
- Uses SyncServices: our software is based on Apple’s SyncServices allowing us to potentially integrate with anything that uses this (e.g. iSync, etc...)
I've been beta testing it since it was announced. It had it's issues in the early stages and wasn't for the faint of heart, often causing lost calendars and/or duplications, and for some it just plain didn't work, but that's why you beta test. The huge Macness software team (actually "just" two great guys; Jim & Pavel) took all of the beta testers feedback, fed in their expertise, mixed in some help from Google and after fixing all of these issues, finally released version 1.0.1 on 10th July, 2007.
It's a relatively straightforward program, but here are the main screenshots:
Where you setup your Google account, and then assign the Google Calendars to the local iCal Calendars.
Show Details panes;
Where you can set more advanced features if needed, such as whether you want items that you sync marked private, public or confidential by default, or if you want iCal to override Google during the sync.
Here you set whether to sync attendees to events and whether to let it run in the background with other iSync devices
Installation is easy - download it from Macness, drag & drop the gSync application into your Applications folder and run it. I recommend backing up your iCal calendar first (from iCal choose File/Back up Database), but other than that all you may need to do is add some calendars to iCal and/or Google Calendar so you can setup the mapping (so gSync can do it's work).
In closing, my overall opinion is that gSync is great value, does everything it says it will do and is a stable, working utility that sits in the background, does it's job and gets out of your way. Isn't that what all good programs are supposed to do?
Update: As per above, I've found another program that, to be honest I prefer, as it adds the ability to allow syncing of calendars between multiple computers on a LAN & WAN, as well as syncing with Google Calendar with no intermediary server (just like gCal). It's called BusySync from BusyMac - and it's great.
* Other offerings as mentioned: Spanning Sync (expensive, server dependant) and Plaxo (free version, server dependant, their name instils fear, currently beta).
Note: Whilst I'm not a journalist and don't officially have to do this, I think it best to inform whoever reads this that I received a complimentary copy of gSync for being an active beta tester. This in no way effected my review as I actually bought the software (I have the Google Checkout receipt to prove it!) and wrote this review before being informed.