iOS 4 and Google Calendars

iOS 4 and Google Calendars

Hi everyone! By far the most popular post on this blog has been my article on setting up iPhone 3.x to use Google Calendars (and in particular, multiple Google Calendars). I still get quite a lot of queries from people who seem to be jumping through all the hoops I outlined in that article. In short, both Apple and Google have added a number of features to both iOS4 and Google Sync that make the setting up of multiple Google calendars a lot easier.

[us_message type=”success”] UPDATE August 2011: I don’t seem to get multiple calendars working via this method any more – maybe it’s just me, but I did manage to get everything working by following the instructions below – but instead of selecting ‘GMail’, I set up a ‘Microsoft Exchange’ account just for my Google calendar (Tip: The server name is ‘’). [/us_message]

iOS 4 (iPhone 4 and new iPod Touch)

First of all, if you’re using either an iPhone 4 or have upgraded your device to the new iOS4, setting up the calendars couldn’t be easier.

Simply follow these steps:

  • Open your iPhone settings menu
  • Select ‘Mail, Contacts, Calendars’ and choose ‘Add Account …’
  • From here, select the GMail option, and simply login using your GMail or Google Apps credentials.
  • You now have the option of syncing Mail, Calendars and Notes with your GMail account.

It’s that simple.

OK, so we’re not entirely done. If you have multiple calendars, they won’t sync by default. This is where Google have added some features to make things easier:

Either on your phone or from a desktop computer:

  • Click on this link FROM your iPhone:
  • Follow the instructions to sign into your Google account
  • Alternatively, if you’re a Google Apps user, follow the links to sign into your GApps account, and then click the SYNC icon.
  • Here you should see a list of your available calendars (including ones shared from other account). Just tick the box next to the calendars you want, and hit save …

And that’s it. Next time your phone syncs with Google, you’ll see those extra calendars pulled into automatically.

Google has a slightly clearer explanation of the above on their website.

iOS 3.2 (iPad and non-upgraded iPhones)

Even if you’re still using iOS 3.2, these features are still available. Just follow the steps above – however you’ll discover that the GMail account you’ve setup only gives you access to your email – not the calendars. To setup the calendar sync, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Goto ‘Settings’ -> ‘Mail, Contacts, Calendars’ on your iPad/iPhone.
  • Select ‘Add Account …’
  • Choose ‘Other’ at the bottom of the list.
  • Select ‘Add CalDAV Account’
  • Enter the following details:
    • Server:
    • User Name: [Your Google Account Username]
    • Password: [Your Google Account Password]
    • Description: [Anything you like 🙂 ]
  • Press NEXT, and you’re done. You’ll need to follow the additional steps above to select any additional Google calendars you want syncing.

And that’s it. So much simpler than all that copying and pasting calendar ID’s!


The new features (well, OK – not that new!) make setup a lot easier than before – particularly Google’s Sync settings to allow multiple calendars to be selected. It also allows shared calendars to be synced with your phone, which is a superb feature.

I’m assuming the iOS 4.2 update for iPad due next month will bring this setup process in line with the iPhone 4.

The main thing missing from both iOS 3.2 and 4.0 is the ability to sync your Google contacts. This can currently be achieved by connecting to Google’s Exchange server instead of using the GMail option mentioned above (instructions here), but this method has it’s drawbacks. It handles your mail slightly differently, in that you can only select a time period for your mail to be synced (such as ‘3 days old’ or ‘1 week old’, as oppose to just saying ‘the first 50 emails’). This may or may not be a problem for you – but I’m not so keen on it. The other drawback is that you loose the ‘Archive instead of Delete’ feature, which means all deleted mail will end up in the trash instead of the archive folder. Again, it’s a preference thing. Finally, the Exchange approach doesn’t sync your notes.

I prefer the simplicity of the GMail account setup over Exchange. If you’re desperate for over-the-air contact sync, then why not setup the Exchange account to just sync your contacts – and use the GMail account to sync the rest? Personally, I find the ‘Sync with Google Contacts’ option in iTunes sufficient for keeping my contacts up to date. 🙂