Richard tells me to explain my view on Google Calendar

Richard Brownell had a good point in my comments a few minutes ago:

“Robert. Maybe I’m being greedy, but could you let us loyal readers know what is missing from Google Calendar? I don’t use it (though I have toyed with it), but I’d like to know what Outlook does better. If I just wanted to hear somebody say they “hate hate hate” something, I’d read a livejournal or a myspace blog ;)

Someone on the Google Calendar team just wrote me and asked the same thing.

Sometimes I forget that people are actually reading my ranting and expect more than just “I hate it.”

So, let’s dig in. First, I have to explain my biases. I’ve been using Microsoft Outlook since it was Microsoft Mail and Schedule Plus. Funny story, if you work inside Microsoft and you want to schedule someone for a meeting you say “I’ll S+ you” not “I’ll Outlook you.” Now you know where the “S+” lingo came from.

That, alone, demonstrates the problem that the Google Calendar team is up against: human behavior. We hate changing, particularly something that is used so often as a calendar app (I use it CONSTANTLY).

That’s another bias. My calendar has to be available and trustworthy. Everywhere. Not just when I’m hooked up to the Internet. Outlook is. If my computer stops working my SmartPhone still has my calendar. If my computer isn’t on wifi or I’m too lazy to plug in my Verizon card Outlook still has my calendar.

So, I’m biased against Google from the start. Sorry, but I am. And most normal non-geek people will be too. I watch how people use computers in airports and Outlook is the most used app that I see.

OK, now that you know my bias, there’s a few other things I’ve found.

1) In Outlook my email and my calendar are integrated. Here’s something I learned long ago. If you send me an email saying “can we meet for breakfast tomorrow at 9 a.m. at the Ritz in Half Moon Bay” I can just drag that email to my calendar button in Outlook and it’ll add a calendar item automatically. In Google’s system? I haven’t figured out how to do something like that, so I’ll need to copy the email from Gmail or from Outlook and then paste it into Google Calendar. Outlook is simpler.

2) Enterprise Contact management. When I got to Microsoft every single employee was autoloaded into Outlook thanks to Exchange. I just typed “Bill Gates” into Outlook, hit Alt-K to parse it into an email address (if he no longer worked there it wouldn’t parse, so I’d know whether or not it’d work), and away we went.

3) Scheduling coworkers for a meeting. OK, I want to meet with John Furrier on Monday at 10 a.m. So, I add john@podtech.net into Google Calendar’s “create event” page (I clicked on “create event” to get there). But where the hell is his calendar? Oh, I have to click on a separate “manage calendar” and look up his calendar separately. In Outlook it just shows me under scheduling tab whether or not he’s available for a meeting or not (again, need Exchange for this to work, but most companies have that, all three of my prior companies had it).

4) Google tries to be too smart. I accidentaly click on the calendar somewhere and it assumes I want to create an event so it pops up a dialog. Aarrgghh. On the other hand, when you get used to this it makes it easier to create an event than the Outlook model of click, drag, right-click and choose “New Appointment.”

I’ll do some more thinking about this as I use it more over the next weeks (this was really my first full-time week using it) and see how my opinion changes.

One thing that’ll dramatically change it? When my Mac arrives (I’ve bought it, but it hasn’t arrived yet). Working cross-platform will probably frustrate me greatly which will swing me back to Google since that should work the same on both Mac and Windows.

Another thing that is great about Google Calendar? It’s free and usable by anyone. Outlook and Exchange are not things you get for free.

What about you? What do you like or hate about Google Calendar?

What would you like to see in future Google Calendars?

79 thoughts on “Richard tells me to explain my view on Google Calendar

  1. I started using Google Calendar the last time my mac died. I was so frustrated about loosing the last weeks of data in iCal (since my backup) that I turned towards something which was online => available from home, from school, from my sister’s… I’m never very far from an internet connection if I have a computer.

    However… I’ve now gone lo-fi: I print out a paper planning for myself and write things in it with a pencil. I’m not in a corporate environment, my appointments are often made when I’m on the run, and my contacts don’t all use some piece of software or other that would allow me to deal with all of them easily (well… the closest thing is gmail, which brings me back towards gcal).

  2. I started using Google Calendar the last time my mac died. I was so frustrated about loosing the last weeks of data in iCal (since my backup) that I turned towards something which was online => available from home, from school, from my sister’s… I’m never very far from an internet connection if I have a computer.

    However… I’ve now gone lo-fi: I print out a paper planning for myself and write things in it with a pencil. I’m not in a corporate environment, my appointments are often made when I’m on the run, and my contacts don’t all use some piece of software or other that would allow me to deal with all of them easily (well… the closest thing is gmail, which brings me back towards gcal).

  3. Re #22: if you select an area on the calendar page and then right-click it for a new calendar item, the time will be filled in on the form that comes up, too. I do this all of the time.

    And even though I don’t have Exchange (so I’m technically off-line all of the time, which I prefer), I love it when events provide calendar entries that I can open and they import into Outlook automatically.

  4. Re #22: if you select an area on the calendar page and then right-click it for a new calendar item, the time will be filled in on the form that comes up, too. I do this all of the time.

    And even though I don’t have Exchange (so I’m technically off-line all of the time, which I prefer), I love it when events provide calendar entries that I can open and they import into Outlook automatically.

  5. Re #22: if you select an area on the calendar page and then double-click it, the time will be filled in on the form that comes up, too. I do this all of the time.

    And even though I don’t have Exchange (so I’m technically off-line all of the time, which I prefer), I love it when events provide calendar entries that I can open and they import into Outlook automatically.

  6. Re #22: if you select an area on the calendar page and then double-click it, the time will be filled in on the form that comes up, too. I do this all of the time.

    And even though I don’t have Exchange (so I’m technically off-line all of the time, which I prefer), I love it when events provide calendar entries that I can open and they import into Outlook automatically.

  7. I like Google Calendar because I’m not connected everywhere — no laptop. I can get to Google Calendar from home, work, library, etc., with no problems, though.

    It’s the same reason I use Bloglines instead of a fat client, and why I use the web interface to do my blog posts.

  8. I like Google Calendar because I’m not connected everywhere — no laptop. I can get to Google Calendar from home, work, library, etc., with no problems, though.

    It’s the same reason I use Bloglines instead of a fat client, and why I use the web interface to do my blog posts.

  9. Here are my comments on the issue.. #1 Google NEEDS to make native outlook integration. I know there are third party programs which allow Google Calendar to work in outlook, but its not easy for the average user to use.
    #2 I’m using Gmail for Domains, and my biggest fusteration is how every time a new email address is created, I have to manually go into each and every user account and add that user to “Manage Calendars” there needs to be an easy way to automatically do that.

  10. Here are my comments on the issue.. #1 Google NEEDS to make native outlook integration. I know there are third party programs which allow Google Calendar to work in outlook, but its not easy for the average user to use.
    #2 I’m using Gmail for Domains, and my biggest fusteration is how every time a new email address is created, I have to manually go into each and every user account and add that user to “Manage Calendars” there needs to be an easy way to automatically do that.

  11. I disagree with your assessment about Google. I use gmail and Google calendar and share my calendar with my partner and my family. I like it because I live in two different towns and regularly work on three computers, two PCs and a MAC.
    I can definitely take an email appointment and add it to Google calendar. And I like that it allows me to see my clients’ calendars, too.

    I wish it synced up to my Windows Mobile 5 device, but I it will soon. In the meantime, I have it fixed to send me reminders of my appointments as text messages. I admit Outlook is convenient, but change is good, my man.

  12. I disagree with your assessment about Google. I use gmail and Google calendar and share my calendar with my partner and my family. I like it because I live in two different towns and regularly work on three computers, two PCs and a MAC.
    I can definitely take an email appointment and add it to Google calendar. And I like that it allows me to see my clients’ calendars, too.

    I wish it synced up to my Windows Mobile 5 device, but I it will soon. In the meantime, I have it fixed to send me reminders of my appointments as text messages. I admit Outlook is convenient, but change is good, my man.

  13. I use Gcal all the time, and its become an integral part of my workflow. I subscribe to a total of 5 calendars, love the look and feel and its just a breeze to use. Sure there are a few features that I wish it had, but it will happen in time. Hopefully it won’t get too bloated.

    All important reminders are sent to me as text mails, so I don’t really miss not having an offline option. I do add an ical subscription from gcal to Mozilla calendar as a backup, but I have not looked at it in at least 2+ months.

  14. I use Gcal all the time, and its become an integral part of my workflow. I subscribe to a total of 5 calendars, love the look and feel and its just a breeze to use. Sure there are a few features that I wish it had, but it will happen in time. Hopefully it won’t get too bloated.

    All important reminders are sent to me as text mails, so I don’t really miss not having an offline option. I do add an ical subscription from gcal to Mozilla calendar as a backup, but I have not looked at it in at least 2+ months.

  15. the not available when i’m not online thing is really the only thing that turns me off. I have been an outlook user for about 5 years and i really liked making the switch.

    I guess if outlook would let you subscribe to an ical or xml calendar that would be the perfect situation.

  16. the not available when i’m not online thing is really the only thing that turns me off. I have been an outlook user for about 5 years and i really liked making the switch.

    I guess if outlook would let you subscribe to an ical or xml calendar that would be the perfect situation.

  17. 1) – It seems that gmail scans emails for street addresses and if one exists, it will display a link in the upper right side to “Map this address”.

    It would be nice to have a link that says “schedule a gCalendar event” from this email in that same area. That click would then bring up gCalendar with the contents of the email as comments and you’d only need to enter date/time/location info.

    I personally don’t see my company moving to a service like this but who knows. I also never thought we would buy a google search appliance either ;-)

    Also, I’m using Outlook 2007 Beta2 and really enjoy it.

  18. 1) – It seems that gmail scans emails for street addresses and if one exists, it will display a link in the upper right side to “Map this address”.

    It would be nice to have a link that says “schedule a gCalendar event” from this email in that same area. That click would then bring up gCalendar with the contents of the email as comments and you’d only need to enter date/time/location info.

    I personally don’t see my company moving to a service like this but who knows. I also never thought we would buy a google search appliance either ;-)

    Also, I’m using Outlook 2007 Beta2 and really enjoy it.

  19. Another point about Outlook calendar and the “click, drag, right-click and choose “New Appointment.”” bit, you only need to “click, drag and type” to create an appointment.
    Of course you still need to double click it to open it if you want to invite others for a meeting.

    Or just click the time and press ctrl-n

  20. Another point about Outlook calendar and the “click, drag, right-click and choose “New Appointment.”” bit, you only need to “click, drag and type” to create an appointment.
    Of course you still need to double click it to open it if you want to invite others for a meeting.

    Or just click the time and press ctrl-n

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