Android users who sync their Google calendars with Outlook received a shocking email:
Important Announcement about Google Calendar Sync
Almost two years ago, we announced that we ended support for Google Calendar Sync. Starting on August 1, 2014, this app will no longer sync events between your Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook Calendar.
As a Google Apps for Business, Education, or Government customer, you can use Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook®.
Follow these instructions to uninstall Google Calendar Sync from your computer.
– The Calendar Team
This is frustrating, because as some folks point out, Microsoft should provide this integration for Outlook users. But the truth is, instead of helping its loyal Android customers, Microsoft wants more people using Windows phones and Office 365. This news makes many Android-Outlook users want to abandon their Android devices all together.
Purely out of coincidence, I have a local friend who emailed me a similar question about syncing his calendar with Outlook:
You know that I am fairly stupid when it comes to this stuff! LOL! I use [a big name telephone company] as my primary email, and too many people have it to change it after so many years. I guess I could keep that as my primary email address and just use Google Calendar exclusively. I just hate to have to log in to use the calendar. Lazy I guess. I do, however, also have a Gmail address! Any suggestions other than “using all of Google’s products”?
Stop the insanity: software solutions
There are a number of third party applications available for syncing Google Calendar with Outlook. However, a lot of questions remain about whether Google Calendar will still sync with third party programs.
If you want to test them, here’s a short list of some programs with good reviews:
- gSyncit ($19.99 single license)
- Outlook4Gmail ($19.99 single license)
- Calendar Sync Pro for Outlook ($9.99)
- CompanionLink ($49.95)
I’m not sure how well these will work after the August 1 deadline, though gSyncit indicates they’ve rewritten their program to coordinate with Google’s API demands. If I was going to pick an option, I’d probably select gSyncit based on that statement.
I also suggest you keep up to date with any advances by following this Google products forum thread.
Submit yourself to “the Borg”
I think my friend’s easiest option is to commit himself to Google’s services, and here’s why.
First, no attorneys should be using free Google accounts for their business work. Thus, if you’re using a email@example.com to send and receive firm and client related information, stop right now. Sign up for a Google Apps account — ask me for a referral partner discount discount code — that offers more features (including no scanning), security, and encryption of email. Having a Google Apps account also enables you to access Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook.
Second, if my friend chooses to ignore my advice about free Google accounts (or you want to abandon Outlook totally), and he wants to keep his telephone company’s email address that everyone knows so well, no problem.
If you don’t need Microsoft Outlook (e.g. Outlook connects to your case management software), it’s okay to ditch the program. Yes, you will have a few withdrawals, but trust me, you will survive. Google’s email, calendaring, and contacts are as good, if not better, than Outlook.
This is how you can make the Google commitment and still keep your “old” email:
Step 1: sync you Outlook information with Google
Step 2: keeping your email
If you want to have your same email address, there are two ways to handle this: forwarding or changing MX records.
I like forwarding my emails to my Gmail address since that allows me to have everything in one searchable location. You’ll need to check with your email provider for instructions on how to enable forwarding, but just make sure that you’re not saving a copy on the server.
Many people use IMAP or POP3 to handle third party email. An IMAP connection is the best, though I’ve noticed some syncing issues. Forwarding eliminates having to sync email with a third party account by sending it directly to your new address. I use forwarding to handle emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your can also use Gmail’s Accounts and Import setting to create an alias address in your Gmail account.
Forwarding allows you to continue to receive messages from those old friend who know your address, as well as send responses.
Changing your MX records
One of the problems with forwarding, and particularly an alias email, is that any emails sent from the account have “sent on behalf of [your name].” (Google does a good job of explaining how to fix this.)
For me, this isn’t professional looking — though honestly 90% of people won’t notice — and I want Google’s servers (especially with my Google Apps account) to handle all of my incoming and outgoing messages. Remember, all Google accounts have 100% encryption on Google’s servers; email scanning is off for Google Apps accounts.
If you own your own domain not hosted by Google and you have a Google Apps account, then tell your domain host you want Google to handle email. This is called changing the MX record.
On a scale of 1 to 10 difficulty, this is probably a 7 or 8. Bad things can happen — we lost/were unable to receive email for a general “Contact Us” account because of one small issue — so talk with your domain host if you’re not sure. They should easily walk you through the process (or even perform the transfer). You should also read Google’s how to guide on setting up MX records for your Google Apps account. This will give you generic and specific instructions for changing the MX command.
Once you set up Google as your primary email server, you can roll on with two separate email accounts (one for Google Apps and one for your self-hosted domain) all hosted and available in Gmail.
What’s the end result?
Discontinuing Outlook connectivity will certainly make a number of Android users upset, though I’m pretty confident that this is a business decision (the actual number of users affected is low), rather than a war with Microsoft. Microsoft needs to help its customer base by filling the void.
Ultimately though, I think if you follow my instructions and advice, you won’t get caught off guard on August 2.