Nexus One… Close, But No Calendar!

Making my Nexus One usable as a day-to-day phone

Hard Habit to Break

BlackBerry isn’t named the “CrackBerry” for no reason — it has the features required by many professionals.

Physical Keyboard for easy messaging — check.

Multi-account Email — check.

Synched Contacts — check.

Synched Calendar — check.

Availability of third party applications — not as many as iPhone or Android, but who cares.. see above!

After much dragging of feet and bemoaning the loss of the physical keyboard, I switched my day to day phone to an Android device — the Nexus One.

I have been making excuses on this largely due to the fact that the Nexus One was not 3G compatible with AT&T’s network — but that excuse expired a couple of weeks ago when the Nexus One became available for AT&T’s 3G frequencies.

I wanted a device that can keep current with Android as it matures. My thinking is that owning the device Google offers is a better approach than being dependent upon Google plus HTC/Motorola plus carrier of choice.

While I like the Droid from Motorola and Verizon, the Nexus One seems a better fit for my needs/wants. Add to that the fact that I am not in the market for a new Verizon Wireless two year relationship and the choice was pretty clear to go with the Nexus One.

Settling In

After spending some time showing off some of the built-in goodies to a bunch of iPhone fans in my office, it was time to get my mobile world configured.

Before performing surgery on my BlackBerry to remove the 3G sim from its sacred and comfortable place behind the battery, I configured the Wifi in my new Nexus One. Why not — faster is better, right? Besides, I might want to read an email or two on my BlackBerry while configuring the new toy phone.

With Wifi configured to my wireless network, I began to setup the device.

GMail and work email accounts setup in a flash. So far, so good.

I next tried to install a couple of applications from the Android Market — Google Sky Map and an update to the Maps application. After starting the installation download, I went on to play with another application shipped on the device, Goggles.

This is a very cool application — just take a photo of something like a bar code, a logo, or a device and the application will search the Internet for some relevant information. I even took a picture of my retiring BlackBerry and the application provided some reasonably relevant smartphone search results. After a few minutes wasted this way I decided to check on those application downloads.

Well, the applications just said “Starting Download”. No progress. No applications. No fun.

It turns out that I was not the only one with this condition where the applications won’t download and install. Most of the comments I saw posted were pointing to something wrong with the sync environment on the device.

Other Nexus users made suggestions along the line of the usual: Sign out of Google Talk. Sign back in. Hard reset. Balance a spoon from your nose. And on and on. I did see one post about firewalls and such. Aha!

The wireless network at work is pretty clamped down — which apparently prevents me from using the Market over that network. I had played with Wifi long enough — time to switch to 3G.

I moved the sim from the BlackBerry to the Nexus One. Replaced the battery. Turned Off WiFi. Problem solved!

And when I saw those two digits: “3G” at the top of the screen, I was relieved that I ordered the correct device and didn’t accidentally wind up with the T-Mobile version!

Now that the sim is installed, I decided to try out the phone.

I made a couple of phone calls and exercised the contacts search mechanism — I think I can live with it. Maybe. The true test will be when I am out and about and need to make a call with one hand while eating a taco and drinking a Dr. Pepper. Without a physical keyboard, I’ll have to employ voice dialing… sans the taco of course.

At one point I called home to tell my son that the phone arrived and I had to actually dial the number — I don’t remember the last time I had to do that! My “speed dial” wasn’t setup and for some reason my home number didn’t get synced to the device, though my mobile number did — go figure. Fortunately I remembered my own number — good thing we taught the kids that little rhyme to help them learn their home number.

So calling works. Email works. And my contacts are all there. Cool, almost ready to go, right? Wrong!

The Nexus One doesn’t sync MS Exchange calendars. Hard to believe. Droid Does. Sprint Hero does. Clunky ADP1 (same h/w as TMobile G1) does. Shame on me for not knowing this before I purchased the device, though I think I would still be on the sidelines clinging to my BlackBerry, so maybe this is a good thing? Nothing like a new challenge.

My five hundred dollar Android device that can show me any constellation in the solar system, download product reviews by using OCR on a digital photo, and untold other very cool things cannot sync my calendar.

Good grief. How can this be? My list of must-haves includes calendar syncing.

My options include the following:

  • Send the device back
  • Live without my calendar
  • Some multi-step process involving Google Calendar
  • Buy a $20 application called Touchdown
  • Pray for a fix to this problem

Unless the phone actually breaks, I don’t plan on sending it back — but moving forward without a synched calendar is not an option.

I’ll save prayer for truly important things, but I will certainly be hoping for a fix to this problem for an integrated solution. But what do I in the meantime? Try out Touchdown?

Now running over 3G, I downloaded the Touchdown application. And it installed right away, thank you.

I configured the Touchdown app and now I’ve got email, contacts and calendar. My calendar is in my hand and I feel a little better, if not annoyed at the prospect of paying for an application that I expected to be built in. Progress.

With each received email I received two notifications. One from Touchdown and one from the native email application.

No problem — now that I’ve got the imperfect but workable Touchdown application running, I don’t need the native email application. A quick trip into Settings -> Accounts & Sync and the account is removed. No more duplicate notifications on email.

But this also means no more built-in contacts. So if I want to call someone and I need to look up the number (which we’ve already established that I need to do just about every time…) I need to go into Touchdown, look-up the user and initiate the dial from there. What a drag!

That’s not going to work either.

A Compromise Solution

Being somewhat optimistic that this problem is going to be addressed, I have decided that it is better to live with two sync options rather than moving back to the BlackBerry. I re-configured my work email account. But I don’t sync email — only contacts.

So now my built-in contacts are synced with MS Exchange and I can rely upon Touchdown for my calendaring. The email client in Touchdown looks pretty good, so I am going to give that a try for now — at least until the 30 day trial is exhausted. Maybe there will be a calendar-synching patch released in the next month?

Time to head home and show the phone to my boy. Of course, he could not care less about calendar syncing so if it doesn’t work out, maybe I can sell the Nexus One to him…

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