02 May 2007

Why don't Google support SyncML?

I use quite a few of Google's online services and recently I've started exclusively using Mail and Calendar for managing all my e-mail accounts and calendars. Both are brilliant applications and it's great to be able to access this data from any computer without worrying about remote access or setting up something like MS Exchange. One thing I'd really like to be able to do however is have a two way sync between my Google services and my mobile phone.

Thom Shannon's PocketGCal does just that on a device running Windows Mobile and I toyed with the idea of writing a similar Java app for my Symbian device. Having got as far as downloading Eclipse and all the various projects and SDK's I'd need I happened upon a Sync app already installed on my phone.

The app uses the Data Synchronisation standard from the Open Mobile Alliance which was formerly called SyncML. It allows you to sync over Bluetooth or HTTP and supports different profiles specifying which access point to use and whether authentication is required etc.

"Great, an open standard. I bet Google support that, they're the champions of free data!", I thought naively. Alas it is not the case, Google seem to be pushing their proprietary GData as the means for programmatically updating the data you hold with them and nothing else.

Google do seem to have missed a trick here as I'm sure there are a lot of business types who'd see native support for SyncML as a very useful feature. This whole episode is at least going to make me look around at the other Mail and Calendar providers out their to see if any of them have better support.

Update - 09/05/2009

Google does now support SyncML for syncing of contacts, it also supports various other syncing methods including ActiveSync for Windows Mobile devices which allows you to sync your calendar entries as well. Check out Google Sync for details.


Michael James said...

There is quite a good Java app out called GCalSync, I use it on my Sony Ericsson, may be worth giving that a try?


embraboy said...

Or, you could try GooSync - they use Google's APIs and SyncML to provide a 2-way update for your mobile device.