Thursday, November 29, 2007

How iPhone can drain my calendar swamp

As we get closer to the date of the iPhone SDK release, I've been thinking about just exactly what I'd like to see the iPhone be able to do to solve my family's calendar sharing problem.

I don't require full two-way syncing of iPhone calendar data with another calendar. My requirements aren't that strict, or complicated. Syncing is nice but technically it's more challenging than publish-and-subscribe, the very tech that lets most of you easily read Calendar Swamp.

Simply put, I would like to be able to have an iPhone publish its calendar -- securely, over the Internet -- to a private server. Virtual private network technology could do the job. The private server I want to have under my control. I'd even be willing to buy a Mac Mini to host this. But I don't want to store the published calendar on the Web. Such servers are vulnerable to data breaches, or Facebook-style privacy erosion and terms-of-service shenanigans.

I want to be able to query River's calendar to see her free/busy time. In return, River should be able to see my free/busy time. And no one else should ever be able to see any of it, for any reason, if we so choose.

I may have other, more public calendars, but they can wait. But at a time when I still wade through a lot of email to arrange meetings and such, it's worth a minute to discuss how I would prefer to invite and be invited by others to events in the scenario I'm describing.

The iPhone is the first handset I know of that can generate a calendar entry based on details it finds in an email. I've raved about this in the past as provided by Zimbra, and Google Calendar does it too. Calendars must be able to generate invitations that recipients can use in an automated fashion to begin entering the info in their own calendar. Requiring 100 percent manual reentry of info from an email into a calendar is a non-starter.

Sometimes, an iCal .ics file attached to the email does the job. Otherwise, if my calendar can generate an email that your email can then understand (like the iPhone, Zimbra, or Gmail) to generate the calendar entry with correct date, time and even location already filled out, that would be sufficient.

River isn't giving up her iPhone, so that has to be a part of the solution. If Apple and some combination of products and services can deliver what I need, I'll be happy to invest in the appropriate gear and services on my end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can buy a Christmas gift for yourself: