Since the Google Sync app was released for BlackBerry I have always been a big fan. I have been a long time Google Calendar user, so being able to keep my device calendar in sync with Google has been a big plus. When you want to go a bit further you can even use the Google Sync app to sync more than one calendar to your device as I do with my wife. One you setup your calendars in Google, you simply check a few options in the app and then never have to think about it again. Granted RIM also introduced calendar sync through BIS which is great, but if you need to sync more than one calendar to your device it isn't much help.
The alternative to Google Sync is BBM Groups. This is great for some as it allows you not only to create a calendar that stays in sync, but also share a task list and photos with ease. This is a great solution for those looking for more functionality, however when you need just the calendar, Google Sync is my method of choice. Keep reading as we look into how to get the job done.
The Google Sync app is a straight forward, no nonsense app to sync your contacts and calendar. The initial setup requires a bit of work, but once you're up and running you never have to think about it again. To get started, you'll obviously need a Google Calendar for yourself (and another party if you plan to sync two calendars). Once you have them setup, you will need to install the Google Sync app on both devices from m.google.com/sync.
Now if you're planning to just sync your own calendar, you don't have to do much leg work here. Before you get going you'll want to make sure your default calendar on the device is set to match that of your Google calendar. To do this (OS6+) go to Options > Device > Advanced System Settings > Default Services. Make sure the Google address you are using for your calendar is correct, then save.
To get rolling, just start up the app and enter your Google info. On the Options page we'll choose Automatic so the sync won't have to be initiated manually. You can choose to leave this on manual, however you'll have to go in and sync the calendar on your own whenever you update it. Note here you can also choose to sync your contacts to Google. This is a bit quirky and will most likely create duplicate contacts either in Google or on your device (or both) so use with caution. If you have some time to play around, you can let it sync then later prune your contacts the way you'd like, after which you'll be good to go.
Check the box next to Calendar, then choose your options for sync and how long to keep previous events. Your default Google calendar should show under Sync These Calendars. Save and let the app sync. Once it's done all of the events on your Google Calendar will show on your device and vice versa. That's it! As long as you have everything setup correctly here you won't have to think about it again as the app will sync your calendar in the background.
If you want to sync more than one calendar (ie. to your kids, spouse etc.) then it's a bit trickier, but nothing we can't handle. Again, you'll need to be sure you and the other party both have a Google Calendar setup. You'll have to share your calendars with each other in order for everything to work correctly. Do this in Google Calendar by going to Calendar Settings, then Calendars. Next to your calendar name, click Shared. Here you can enter the email of the other party in order to share your calendar. Choose Make changes to events, then click Add person. Once the other party accepts your invite, your calendars will be shared. Also note that they'll have to do the same on their end if you'll be sharing calendars both ways.
Once you're shared you've won the fight - the rest is easy. Go back into the Google Sync app on your device. We'll setup much the same as before, however under Sync these Calendars you'll have to choose ther other calendar as well. Click on the calendar name and you'll see a list of all the shared calendars. Choose with which you'd like to sync (if you share more than one you'll see multiple options) by marking the checkbox. Next to Add new handheld events to you'll want to choose your default Google Calendar. This will be where any appointments you add on the device are synced. When you're done here save and head back to the main screen.
Now you should see both calendars listed here and you know you're on your way. Press the Menu key and select Save. The app will ask you if you'd like to sync now, choose yes and let it do its thing. When it's done, you should have a totally synced calendar between you and the other party.
Now mind you there are some quirks here that will annoy you from time to time. If for some reason you delete your calendar (or reload the OS) you'll have to setup sync all over. Some events may not show if they aren't "new", so you may have to edit them (change the title or edit the time) so they reflect as updated and sync to the calendar. Also, when you install a new OS and sync again, be sure that you set your default calendar first, or Google will happily splatter your appointments where they don't belong. Should you device you want to start fresh, simply log out of the Google Sync app and it will allow you to remove your calendar entries as well.
This is just one way of many to keep your calendars in sync. I prefer this method because I know it, I've been using it for a while and it just works. I don't need to have a task list or photo sharing with my wife, so BBM Groups aren't for me. Our calendars stay in sync - whether I add an appoint on my device or in Google Calendar - it will sync up where I need it.
Have you used the Google Sync app for your calendars? Or do you use BBM Groups or another method? Hit the comments and let us know what works for you!