Syncing Contacts with Google Contacts

One of the nice features of iTunes/Address Book is the ability to Sync with services like Exchange, Yahoo! and Google in addition to Apple’s own MobileMe. I decided to try these services at the risk of really screwing up my Address Book. I have about 700 entries in my address book. I use both groups and smart groups to organize my contacts. I use the notes, related people, and date fields in addition to the more pedestrian fields for name, address and phone number. Any sync scheme that I could use would need to support these features. I also use the picture field. There is a nice feature in Mail that when you receive an email from a person their picture appears in the email. I also use Adium that has a nice feature that updates the contact picture for people in your address book.

When I use MobileMe ($99/year I can rely on all of my contact being synchronized between my mac desktop, laptop, and iPhone. I can also access my address from any web browser. All the fields are mapped and the picture shows everywhere. When people call, I see their picture on my phone.

Exchange – I let my iPhone sync directly with my exchange server. I do not store any person contacts in my account so I primarily use it for LDAP (Global Address Book) searches.

Yahoo! – I tested this out with rather bad results. My extended notes were not sent to Yahoo! Worse, my notes and pictures were deleted from my local copy of my address book — oops. Good thing I had a backup.

Google – The results with Google were better. AIM accounts were mapped right. Dates and related people were not. Google supports pictures but not through the sync path. My information was not blown away on subsequent syncs. I was able to merge several contacts in Address Book and they were cleaned up on Google in a few minutes. GoogleApps support works with a single domain/account – -nice touch.

If you have multiple computers and do not use the extended field attributes then any of the sync solutions will work. If you need those extended attributes to work, your only option is MobileMe.

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