So, many Windows Phone 8 customers are getting the latest update to their mobile operating systems, called Windows Phone 8 GDR2. While this update includes a number of “fixes”, the most anticipated change was adding in support for CalDAV and CardDAV, two widely-used and supported syncing protocols for a user’s calendars and contacts.
We were excited for the release as SmarterMail includes support for both protocols. They give customers a simple and free alternative for syncing their mobile devices with their SmarterMail accounts, especially when using IMAP for syncing email. iPhones (all iOS devices, really) include support for both natively and there are a few inexpensive Android apps that allow users to sync their Android devices as well. Windows Phone 7 and 8 always relied on Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) for their syncing of calendars and contacts, so having the ability to use “the DAVs” meant that users wouldn’t have to necessarily assume any additional costs for fully and completely syncing their devices.
To step back a bit and to offer a bit of history, Microsoft is including support for the DAVs as a direct result of Google saying that they were no longer offering their Google Sync tool, which relies on EAS, for non-paid users of GMail. Instead, free GMail users would need to sync calendars and contacts using other technologies, the most notable of which are CalDAV and CardDAV. User’s of Googles paid Apps, however, will still be able to use Google Sync. Earlier this year, Microsoft, not wanting to alienate Windows Phone 8 users and keep them from syncing with GMail, relented and announced they’d include support for the DAVs in an upcoming update of Windows Phone 8.
Well, that update is out and is slowly making its way to Windows Phone users. We got our hands on it and, sure enough, you CAN sync a GMail account using CalDAV and CardDAV…but that’s ALL you can sync. The Windows Phone GDR2 update DOES NOT include CalDAV/CardDAV support for non-Google accounts. That means you CAN NOT add any non-Google account and expect it to use those protocols. Great for users of GMail, but a pretty shoddy implementation for people who use other email, calendaring and contact solutions.
So, what does this mean for SmarterMail users? Well, on the one hand, Windows Phone 8 customers can still use EAS and experience seamless synchronization of their email, calendars and contacts. EAS is a robust and widely-supported protocol on virtually every mobile device. On the other hand, Microsoft has somewhat failed users by NOT giving them a simple, free alternative for syncing contacts and calendars with their mobile devices. Of course, there’s always using SyncML, but finding a good implementation of that is getting harder and harder to find.
We can only hope that Microsoft sees the error of their ways and adds CalDAV and CardDAV support for ANY account type in a future release. Until then, EAS is your best and most reliable option for syncing a Windows 8 device and your SmarterMail account.