How can I fix visibility problem with Google Calendars on iPhones?

crazyxgerman January 4, 2015
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This issue has me stumped. It seems easy and straight forward but I can’t figure it out and could use some help:

My wife and I each maintain a Google calendar. We share our calendar with the other person. We can both see each other calendars in a browser on our desktop/laptop computers.

We both have iPhones that I have configured to display our calendars in the native iOS calendar app using the Exchange option. This all works as expected.

The issue:

I can see her shared calendar on both my desktop and on my iPhone. However, she can see my shared calendar only on her laptop, not on her iPhone.

On my iPhone, when I go to the iOS calendar app and select “Calendars”, I see under the Google Calendar Contacts (the name for the Exchange account) section the following:

All Google Calendar Contacts
My name
Her name

All three are selected and show up as expected.

When I do the same on her iPhone though, I only see in this section one entry:

Her name

Troubleshooting done so far:

I compared our phone settings side by side and they seem identical.
I compared our Google calendar settings side by side and they seem identical.
I followed all steps listed here: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/google-calendar-wont-sync-ios-try-fixes/
This includes:
* Going to the iphoneselect link on her desktop and confirming that in the Shared calendars section, my calendar shows up and is checked.
* Going to the mobile syncselect link on her iPhone and confirming that in the Shared calendars section, my calendar shows up and is checked.
* In both these links, uncheck my calendar, save it, recheck it, save it.
* Removing the Exchange account altogether and adding it back.

At this point, I’m at a loss. Any ideas why this is happening?

Don’t know if it matters, but some additional info:
We both use GMail as our main email accounts.
Both our iPhones have our GMail accounts added and work properly in the native iOS email app.
We do not use iCloud.
The GMail account in iOS > Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars has Mail and Notes enabled, but Contacts and Calendars disabled.
The Google Exchange account in iOS > Settings Mail, Contacts, Calendars has Contacts and Calendars enabled, but Mail and Reminders disabled.

Thanks for any ideas to help me fix this.

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  1. ha14
    January 4, 2015 at 9:25 pm
  2. Jan F.
    January 4, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    It sounds to me like you only setup Google on your devices recently. Does that sound about right?

    Google has dropped support for Active Sync and therefor adding it as an Exchange account in February 2013. Only Google Apps (for Work, Education, Government) still support using ActiveSync.
    For anyone else it will only (or at least should) work for existing devices, those that have previously been associated with the Google Account.

    So my first suggestion would be to add the account as an Google account and start troubleshooting from there on to rule out any issues or limitations caused by "unsupported" ActiveSync use.

    • crazyxgerman
      January 5, 2015 at 3:17 am

      Thanks for clarifying this, Jan, and pointing me in the right direction.

      We have had iPhones and GMail accounts for many years, and I set this up this way several years ago. I forgot why I set up one account on the iPhone for Google Mail and Notes using the Google option, and another account for contacts and calendar using the Exchange option - there was a specific reason for it though. I vaguely remember hearing about dropping ActiveSync support, but apparently was unaware of the consequences for our calendars.

      Anyway - on both phones, I deleted the Exchange account and enabled contacts and calendars for the existing GMail account. On my phone, it worked perfectly - contacts and calendars repopulated within a couple of minutes and all looked well.

      However, on my wife's phone, it did not go as smoothly. The calendar simply did not populate, no matter what I did (Google calendars didn't even show up as an option under Calendars). I ended up removing the entire Google account altogether and adding it back in.

      After a few minutes, the Google calendars finally showed up in the iOS calendar with all desired entries - yeah!

      We haven't fully tested it yet but it looks good. Funny how the solution was simpler than expected, and our configuration overcomplicated things. Oh well, learned something |:^}

    • Jan F.
      January 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Yes, the iOS calendar can take a while. From experience, it mostly depends on the amount of all entries (future and dated) in the calendar.

      My guess is that it does download all entries, disregarding your sync options (e.g. sync only 1 Month back) and then goes through all of them to see which one is older and can be purged before they finally start showing up.

      Hope it will work out for you.