Google Adds ActiveSync to Accommodate IPhone, Win Mobile
Google Monday announced that it is adding support for Microsoft's ActiveSync to Google Sync, which will give iPhone and Windows Mobile offline access to their Google calendars and Gmail contacts from their mobile applications.
Google already supports calendar and contact synchronization via Google Synch on the BlackBerry and on its own Android mobile platform. The Android sync is a technology developed by Google and built into Google Apps.
The Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support means users can sync Google Calendars and Gmail Contacts information with the ActiveSync compatible calendar and contact applications they run on their iPhone and Windows Mobile devices. The synchronization happens in real-time so when a contact or calendar entry is added or upgraded in Google Apps it is updated with applications on the mobile device.
As part of the announcement Google said it also has added contact sync for mobile devices that support SyncML, a platform independent synchronization standard.
"This enables people to use native applications they have on their devices to connect to Google," says Raju Gulabani, product management director for Google Enterprise. "The key here is that when users of Google Apps store their information online with us they have access anywhere from any device."
The capability gives users offline access to the information stored in their Google accounts. Previously, users had to open a Web browser and sign on to their Google accounts to access the information. That access method is still available.
The ActiveSync announcement follows the offline capabilities that Google has been adding to its platform to match features that have been in leading messaging platforms for years.
Two weeks ago, Google released a beta of an offline capability for Gmail, which lets business and consumer users work with e-mail and eventually calendar items while disconnected from the network.
And it follows momentum building behind ActiveSync. Last month, IBM said that it would add ActiveSync technology later this year to Lotus Notes Traveler, which provides real-time replication between mobile devices and Notes.
IBM's Ed Brill, director of product management for Lotus, said on his blog that the Google move reassures IBM that "our strategy around mobility for Notes/Domino is on the right track -- Web and protocol-based approaches, support for a variety of devices through their native interfaces, and a strong partner ecosystem to add value and innovate."
The Google news came the same day a Microsoft-hosted Smartphone synchronization service was accidentally activated, giving users a preview of the company's new Microsoft My Phone service.
"Google's licensing of these Microsoft patents relating to the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol is a clear acknowledgement of the innovation taking place at Microsoft," said Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel and vice president for intellectual property and licensing for Microsoft.