As a part of my Living in the Cloud series, I wrote about Gmail last week. This week, I am planning to write about Google Calendar and I will
write about Remember The Milk, a todo application, next week. Google Calendar
has been a boon for me both in my personal as well as professional life. Even
though it may not be the best calendaring application, it takes care of my need
to be organized in my life.
After giving up on Yahoo Calendar, which finally had some improvements recently, I was desperately looking for an
online calendaring app and Google offered a tool that could serve as an unified
calendaring application with many powerful features. In this post, I will offer
a brief overview of how I use Google Calendar and then, as I did in my previous
post on Gmail, discuss the pros and cons of Google Calendar. I have a personal
account in Google. My company uses Google Apps for domains and we also have a
Google Apps for our family domain. Through my Google Calendar interface, I could
access all my calendars in one place making it extremely easy for me to keep
tabs on both my professional and personal lives.
The greatest advantage of cloud computing is the possibility to pull my data
from anywhere using a vast array of devices. We can access Google Calendar using
the web browser or desktop mail clients such as MS Outlook, Thunderbird, etc. or
mobile phones, etc.. It is also possible to publish our calendars to free/busy
servers, blogs, wikis and other websites. This flexibility offered by Google
Calendar, in particular, and Cloud Computing Apps, in general, makes it easy to
organize my life in a much more efficient way.
Let us now discuss the pros and cons of Google Calendar. As I did in my previous post on Gmail, I am only going to discuss those pros
and cons I consider as very important. There may be others I have left out due
to various considerations and I strongly encourage the readers to add their take
on Google Calendar in the comments section below.
- Multiple calendars: We can add multiple calendars, one for professional
life, one for personal life, one for the Golf club, one for the Startup club,
etc.. We can have different colors for different calendars making it easy to
categorize the events.
- Multiple Ways to Access it: We can access it using the web browser, native
calendaring app, mobile phones, blogs and websites, etc. There are third party
apps like Nemussync that will integrate Google Calendar with smartphone/iPhone’s
native calendar app.
- Browser Plugins: There are plugins available for browsers like Firefox
making it easy to add events without even visiting the Google Calendar web
- Collaboration: We can easily invite more people to join an event and they
can accept the invitation with a single click. This added with the in-built
commenting system and integration with Google Maps makes Google Calendar as
powerful as Evite, an events management web application.
- Natural Language Support: Google offers support for natural language. One
can add tasks using natural language and Google parses it correctly. For
example, one can just use Quick Add button and type “Meet Steve on Sunday at
7:00 PM” and it will be parsed properly and the corresponding date and time will
be added to the event.
- Integration with Google Sites: Google Calendar can be integrated with Google
Sites (formerly Jotspot). This is very useful for companies using Google Sites
as an intranet.
- Lack of direct two way support with desktop calendaring applications. Many
individuals and companies are still relying on desktop applications. Lack of
direct two way syncing for may desktop apps is a big drawback.
- Lack of offline support. Though there are rumors that Google will soon add
offline support with Google Gears, there is no offline support at this point of
- The Reminder feature of Google Calendar is unreliable at this point. Many
times, I don’t get email or sms notifications of the events. I have heard
similar complaints from other users too. This is more of a bug than a