Google is releasing a beta version of Google Sync for the iPhone and Windows Mobile phones, providing the ability to synchronize Gmail contact information and Google Calendar events with handheld phones.
The technology is based on the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol, licensed by Google.
"For iPhone and Windows Mobile devices, Google Sync allows you to get your Gmail contacts and Google Calendar events to your phone," according to the Google Mobile Blog.
"Once you set up Sync on your phone, it will automatically begin synchronizing your address book and calendar in the background, over the air, so you can attend to other tasks."
Sync uses push technology to send changes to the device; the connection is always on so users don't have to manually synchronize their phones after Sync is set up. Changes to phones can be made in a user's Google account.
Additionally, Nokia and Sony Ericsson devices supporting the SyncML protocol allow for two-way contacts synchronization via Google Sync. Google Calendar sync and Contacts sync already has been available for the RIM BlackBerry smartphone, Google said.
But that software for RIM does not use Exchange ActiveSync.
Microsoft previously licensed ActiveSync to Apple, Nokia, Palm, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson. But the company is not seeking to make ActiveSync an industry standard, a Microsoft representative said.
Google, according to Microsoft, is taking a patent license to implement the Exchange ActiveSync protocol on Google servers that provide Google hosted services for purposes of synchronizing personal information management information with mobile handsets that implement Exchange ActiveSync protocol.
Google Sync is a good solution for small businesses relying on Gmail, said analyst Chris Hazelton, research director for mobile and wireless at The 451 Group.
"You can now have Gmail work contacts on your phone," he said. The only risk Hazelton cited was that if a user loses their phone, anyone who finds it could gain access to calendar and contact information.
But a password on the phone would solve this problem, except that persons without an IT staff generally do not have passwords on their devices, said Hazelton.
In a statement released by Microsoft, a company official said the agreement represented the company's willingness to license patents if Microsoft intellectual property is respected.
"Google's licensing of these Microsoft patents relating to the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol is a clear acknowledgment of the innovation taking place at Microsoft," said Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel and vice president of intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft.