Google Calendar is Live

Hooray and finally. Techcrunch reports that Google Calendar, aka CL2, has gone live. I'm off to check things out, and will report back later. Hopefully this is the calendaring solution that I've been looking for, or soon will be. Update (14/04/06): So after playing around with Google Calendar for a bit yesterday here are some initial impressions. The interface, as you would expect, is user-friendly and smooth. After using 30 Boxes for a while, one thing I might change would be to have the Quick Add box directly above the calendar instead of having the search box. Google is obviously search-centric, but I think I'd be adding new calendar entries more often than searching so why the extra mouse-click?

The import feature worked a treat on getting my existing calendar entries from 30 Boxes, though it did screw up the time zone somehow and my times all ended up ten hours off. Not sure if this is a problem with 30 Boxes, Google, or the ical format. Adding additional calendars was too easy, as I didn't even need to go to a site like iCalShare to find the webcal link. I just searched in Google Calendar for 'Barcelona' and found a syndicated calendar for FC Barcelona's match schedule and added it as an overlay. Obviously, one of Google's biggest assets in rolling out a calendaring solution is its huge user base thanks to Gmail. So Google Calendar's integration with Gmail is a no-brainer. I haven't tested it yet, but the claim is that Gmail will look for things that look like events in your incoming email and give you an option to add them to your Google Calendar. This sounds like a cool feature, and I might need to set up some forwarders and filters from my work email to forward these to Gmail/Google Calendar. One issue is that I use multiple Gmail addresses for different purposes (such as listservs), and I'm wondering if it would be possible in the future to link different Gmail accounts with a single Calendar.

On the negative side, there is no SyncML support, but I didn't really expect that would be available at launch. Given Google's earlier commitment to mobile devices, I expect they'll come up with something eventually (if not SyncML, then perhaps their own Symbian mobile calendar app). Another minus is that it doesn't seem to work in Opera, which means it doesn't work on the Nokia 770.

One feature that looks interesting, but that I'm a little suspicious about is the Event Publishing feature. Being able to publish a calendar event on a website and have a user click on it to add it to their calendar was one of the early promises of calendaring standards. The Event Publisher feature looks to be an attempt at this, but it's not clear whether they are following the iCal standard, or if this is Google Calendar-specific. I would sincerely hope that Google would follow the open standard so that anyone could add the event to the calendaring solution of their choice (so long as it supports vCal/iCal). I'll play with this some more and see whether it could be made to work with other apps.

In conclusion, I'd have to say that Google's product looks like a winner, and I'm switching from 30 Boxes to make it my online calendar. Similar sentiments are being heard all over. Sorry, 30 Boxes.

Update (17/04/06): I just found a very nice review of Google Calendar on Charlene Li's Forrester report. In addition to some insightful commentary on Google Calendar's existing features, she has some inside info on future developments (like sync for Outlook and mobile devices), and what an open and extensible Google Calendar API might means for the world of 'time'. Give it a read.

Posted on April 13, 2006 and filed under Organization, Software.