Changes are coming, just not consistent ones.

For the last 3 years, I’ve been a MobileMe subscriber. During that time, it’s changed here and there, but I’ve rolled with the changes the best that I can and without too much of a headache.

My biggest use of the service is to have my Calendar and Contacts synced to the cloud, stored locally under iCal and Address Book – so all of my Macs, iDevices and my Palm Pre – can all have the same calendar entries and contact listings. And up until now, it’s worked flawlessly. On each Mac [I use three at home], I have my MobileMe account setup to automatically sync my iCal and Address Book data to the cloud. For my Palm Pre, I use the application The Missing Sync to sync my Calendar, Tasks and Address Book data to that phone (via WiFi), adding a non-Apple device into the perfect mix of synced data on every device and Mac.

But Apple has changed the format of it’s MobileMe Calendar to use CalDAV, which is an industry standard way of hosting a calendar in a central location, adding their own twist to that: syncing from local calendars is not supported. This is largely due to Apple discontinuing their use of Sync Services and moving to only CalDAV, where the calendars are hosted in the cloud on the MobileMe service. The local calendars in iCal are then replaced by synced online calendars. This is a problem if your non-Apple devices are needing local calendars to sync from. And while I’m sure some of the third-party utilities like The Missing Sync, BusySync or Spanning Sync will have an update to support local to online calendar syncing, it’s not clear if they will be ready by the May 5, 2011 deadline to cut over to the new calendar format.

So that leaves us users that rely on Sync Services in a lurch. And yes, most of this is tied to my use of a non-Apple device, but some of it is also related to my recent explorations of the Google Calendar.

Google Calendar

Supported by all of my devices, Google Calendar is becoming a viable option for keeping everything in sync. And using a program like Spanning Sync, it will keep my local iCal calendar in sync for my Palm Pre. In my tests with a trial version of this great little utility, my calendar data has been kept in sync with all of my appointments and events.

No Tasks

But one critical piece missing that doesn’t sync to Google are tasks. They remain local to iCal, or if you are using the new MobileMe calendar format, they will sync to that and be stored in the cloud. But Google doesn’t have a Tasks API yet, which leaves tasks on their own.

Exploring Options

Other users are also lamenting the change as it affects their overall work flow. I completely agree as I’ve had to spend time considering changing my options to make it all work better. I’ve not made any decisions on what I plan to do here, as I still have over a month to see how to keep my calendar and tasks in sync, including MobileMe in the mix. For now, I have turned off calendar syncing to my other two Macs, leaving only the syncing of Contacts between all my systems and devices. I will have another post as it gets closer to the May cutoff date on what the final array of configuration will look like. Stay tuned.

Links to articles on MobileMe Calendar change:
MobileMe: Frequently Asked Questions about the new MobileMe Calendar
The New MobileMe Calendar: Should You Upgrade?
MobileMe: Setting up iCal for the new MobileMe Calendar
MobileMe: Troubleshooting upgrading to the new MobileMe Calendar
Upgrade to MobileMe Calendar by 5 May 2011
Spanning Sync and the New MobileMe Calendars
Howto: Your Data, Everywhere, In Sync