Andrew Breese

Musings of a professional geek

Trouble syncing google calendar to an iphone

I had a bit of trouble syncing my Google calendars (yes there are a few) with the iphone, and now that its working I thought it better to share the knowledge.

The problem I had was that my Google Calendar contained three separate sub-calendars, and two of them would sync, but the third would not. This mean that I could see all my data when I viewed the calendar on whatever browser, but opening the calendar on the setup iPhone was missing one.

The (TLDR) solution is to tell Google which devices it syncs from are meant to show which calendars. You do this by going to the two URLs and authorising the calendars individually.

To make the process even more odd, but logical behind the scenes the second URL is for syncing of mobile devices, and you need to authorise each sub-calendar on each device which may connect to it. This was the key step I was missing – i.e. I had setup sync for the browser, but not in the specific device and then for the sub-calendar.

Once I did that it worked fine. For a more verbose explanation and some side-detail continue reading below.


The longer version of the solve is…

My main issue was that my old iphone handset operating system was authorised and it was also the handset which was selected to be authorised to all calendars in the area. All I really had to do was click through for the new handset.

I can imagine thsi might happen each major version of the IOS and will happen when the hardware changes.

The calendars were called Main (used for everything created on the phone and the default for the browser), Work (populated from a desktop based sync to Lots notes), and Holidays (populated from the default Aussie holidays calendar that you can turn on in google calendar options).

As a first principal there are many different ways to get this done depending on your phone hardware, the way you use google calendars, and what other apps are in the mix. I have three parts to the setup I wanted, and most users will have only two. They are:

  1. iphone handset, running IO6 (two way sync with Google and the iPhone).
  2. google calendar, typically used in a browser (the single source of truth).
  3. lotus notes calendar (push to Google sync only via a vbs script – yuck).

With the three options above the first two are what I’d expect most users to be using, and this post will deal with these two primarily.

Google Calendar is the final resting place for all data. All data gets pushed into Google. I made this the single source of truth because it is generally always available, is free, supports many ways to access, and requires little tech skill to edit and update. This is where you need to ensure that all your data is shown, and the calendars are setup correctly. If it is not viewable there, then you have a sync-in issue with the device too, which hints that is not setup at all.

The iPhone is the viewer where I want to be able to see all the meetings and such combined into one place, while on-the-go. I do not use it to update Work appointments, but do add stuff to the main calendar, contacts, etc.

Lotus notes calendar which I use only because my work mandates Lotus for all desktops. It is a piece of junk as far as sync goes, and needs a 3rd party sync tool called LNGoogleCalSync for a pc to work. I hate it as it only pushes to Google not two way, but it works to a point.

These are steps I took to cover end to end checking:

  1. check the data was present onGoogle calendar, including checking I knew the names and had checked that these were authorised. I checked this in a browser on a PC rather than on the phone’s browser.
  2. check the settings in the iphone calendar.
  3. turn off the calendar on the iphone.
  4. turn the iphone off and on.
  5. check settings on
  6. check settings on, including the sub-handsets
  7. turn on Calendar on the iphone
  8. open calendar and let it sync

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