We all need to collaborate with others; it is a fact of life in a world where we specialize and are so connected electronically to others, requiring us to share our thoughts and work as we rely on each other. One way we stay connected is through time based interactions with each other, and that is aided by sharing our calendars. We share our schedules with others and they do so with us so we can see availability and agree on a time that mutually works. At Keystone, we have moved many of our new clients over the years to an Exchange mail server with Microsoft Outlook, and one of the great benefits they enjoy is the ability to have shared calendars on that platform.
In a post-PC, mobile first world, there is a necessity to still be able to do this. But Apples’s IOS operating system for mobile devices, like the iPhone and iPad, does not support syncing with another user’s shared calendar. You can see your calendar, but not a co-worker’s. This may stop users from adopting and using these convenient devices, and we wanted to remedy that. We searched quite a bit and a solution was not apparent, but we were able to make it work.
In the app store on Apple iPads and iPhones, there is an app called CalendarOne, and it comes with an eval version and a paid version (now $9.99). The evaluation version allows you to sync one other user’s calendar, and is limited to 7 days into the future; the paid version removes this and also allows another in-app purchase which syncs automatically.
I downloaded the evaluation copy and set it up, but it did not work. The publisher, Networks 22 Limited, is aware of the issue and posted a set of steps that seem odd, in which you must stop syncing all calendars (Exchange, Google, etc.) and then re-sync them. I followed it numerous times, but it was not reliable. I then uninstalled the app and re-installed, stopped syncing my Exchange calendar (that was my only synced calendar), and set up a shared calendar through the CalendarOne app. Finally I saw my coworker’s calendar on my iPad. I then re-synced my personal Exchange calendar, and saw both my calendar and my coworkers in the same place. Now I could actually work to schedule meetings! I then purchased the paid version so I could add more coworkers, and a longer future period to sync. I added another user and did not see them in my calendar. Hmmm….I then went back to square one, and deleted the app, all calendars, and stopped syncing. I reinstalled the paid version, added three co-workers, and saw all three – progress! I then re-synced my personal Exchange calendar, and saw both my calendar and my coworkers – success!
It looks like CalendarOne creates new local calendars on the iPad, and syncs the data from my coworkers’ shared Exchange calendar to my iPad, prefixing each entry with the user’s name in brackets. This and color allows me to see whose schedule may be in conflict when I view it. Note that I cannot edit any changes on my co-worker’s calendar, but I do not need to do that; I suspect a straight sync would work fine for that.
Here is what I see now, mine and a co-worker named Brian.
The solution is well thought out given IOS’s native calendar limitations. I will not use it everyday, but will a couple of times per month. In the past, I maintained a server with Outlook installed that I would remotely connect to in order to see others’ calendar, now I can do it right on the device.
Thanks Networks 22 Limited!