After finding out that there’s no way to sync Google Calendar with any desktop program on Windows 8 (or Windows 8.1), I took to finding an alternative. I’m a bit of an oddball though. I don’t pledge allegiance to Windows, Google or Apple per se (although I tend to show slight favouritism to Apple products when there’s a choice), and I prefer apps over the web browser any day. Complicating the matter is that I use both a PC and a Mac, my tablet is an iPad Mini, and my phone is one of those Ones. (It’s the HTC One S, an Android gizmo, to be exact.) So I wanted a calendar to sync between apps on all four devices but I seemed to hit a road block wherever I turned.
When I looked into whatever Microsoft calls their calendar software (it might be simply Calendar, or Outlook Calendar, or maybe even it still goes informally by its old name Windows Live Calendar), but it didn’t seem too friendly with OS X. I briefly looked at Yahoo!’s calendar thingy but Yahoo! Calendar is…Yahoo! Calendar, that seemed to be a non-starter. Strangely enough, after some digging I was, however, able to find a way to get iCloud’s calendar, of all things to sync between Windows, iOS, OS X and yes, even Android (blasphemy, I know). Here’s how to get it working:
On Windows, it’s slightly trickier as iCloud support isn’t baked into the OS like it is in OS X and iOS. So you have to download and set up Apple’s iCloud software for Windows. It’s not that bad of a process the catch is that you have to use Outlook. So no Thunderbird for you.
On Android this is where it gets tricky. Apple doesn’t support Android in any way, apparently it’s a stolen product that Apple will bring about World War III to the world to destroy. For those of us caught in the crosshairs, owning an iOS device and an Android device, there’s one pretty simple way to get the two to be friends (or at least frienemies).
Hit up Google Play and download SmoothSync. It’s around $3. So when it’s on your Android device pop in your iCloud email address and password, and you’re good to go, no fuss or muss (for the most part). For the few that have problems with getting the sync up and running on Jelly Bean devices there’s a workaround companion app (a very small download), you won’t even notice it after you set it up.
Boom, you now have a calendar that can sync across iOS, OS X, Android and Windows. It’s not an epically horrible process once you figure out what you’re doing. It would sure be nice though to have something like Wunderlist (the cross-platform to-do app) that makes it almost effortless to get this working across virtually any major OS, but as far as I know that doesn’t exist yet.
There’s one catch though, when moving from something like Google Calendar to iCloud means that you lose the option to share calendars easily with those who are not iCloud users. There’s a fix, and I’ll fill you in on how to get that working in an upcoming post.
MORE: Check out CNET’s experience with SmothSync here.