I’ve been using Google Sync over a year now, to sync my contacts between my BlackBerry and my iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and whatever device that Google Sync app is available on. Even Android has Google Sync to sync contacts and calendars. But primarily I use it to sync between iOS, on my iPad, and iPhone 4 so all my Calendars are all sync. I’m still finding ways to sync Bookmarks without Mobileme, so we’ll see if I find a way later.
Even though that iOS users could activate contact sync through Exchange using a Google account in the Settings. But the experience is far from perfect. Put simply: if you don’t start anew with a fresh, empty Address Book, expect sync to become messy very soon with duplicates. Looking up online, I saw many users were reporting about duplicate entry issues, deleted contacts, scary stuff if you care about your Address Book. I’m suggesting by deleting an existing Address Book from OS X and iOS, and syncing a new one from Google’s servers. How? Importing a new Address Book from Google works better than trying to sync an existing one between your machine and the service; and this apparently happens because Apple and Google have implemented different features for contact sync. So while trying to sync your current Address Book (either from OS X and iOS) to Google might give you a headache, importing a new one works really well. Below are the steps:
- I backed up my desktop Address Book with File-> Export -> Export vCard;
- I created a new Google account specifically for syncing contacts; Or if you don’t want to create a new account, I would go to Google Mail and delete all the contacts in there.
- After that, I deleted the whole Address Book on both my iPhone and iPad (iOS will ask you to since you can only have one Exchange with Google Mail);
- I imported the vCard backup on Gmail, and made sure all contacts were saved correctly;
- I set up an Exchange account on iOS using Google’s servers (see here) and chose to sync my contacts;
- I waited 30 seconds and all my Address Book entries were pulled from Google and synced to my iPhone and iPad.
That’s it. With an empty Address Book on iOS and OS X and the old one saved on Gmail, the initial sync worked perfectly and I didn’t run into any duplicate issues or errors. Three days into using it (and adding several new contacts), sync is performing well and it’s also very fast. I don’t understand why so many people complain about Google’s contact sync while you can follow the method above to end up with a clean and neatly organized Address Book that syncs just fine across the web, Mac and iOS. Of course there could be some issues if you have special characters like “&” and “$” in your contacts’ names and details, but I try to keep my Address Book as simple as possible so I really didn’t experience any of this.
It’s been several months now since the steps I did above importing to my iPhone and iPad. If I have new contacts in my BlackBerry that I added, I click on the Google Sync App in my BlackBerry and click on Sync. A few seconds later, it shows up in my iPad and iPhone. Voila, perfect sync without duplicates.