Monday, July 04, 2011

The iPhone color assignment debacle makes Android look good

There are web sites with reams of news about iOS 5 features.

I'd trade them all for a fix for the iPhone/iPad color assignment problem:


Of the 10 calendars currently in my iPhone subscription list (9 Google ActiveSync Calendars, 1 corporate ActiveSync), 6 have been assigned a calendar color of "brown/beige".

iOS doesn't give users control over calendar color assignment, and the algorithm it uses to assign colors is broken even within a single server source. I think it once worked better, but even then color distribution was within a server, not across servers.

So is this fixed with iOS 5?

It seems not. With iOS 5 calendar color assignment works with iCloud/iCal, but there's no change for ActiveSync users. It's a sign that the Apple-Google war never really ended, it just became a grudging, surly, detente.

The costs of switching my family from iOS to Android are extremely high. It would take a lot to drive me down that road. Every time I look at my calendar however ...


Martin said...

Calendar color assignment already works with iOS 4 (and did probably already with iOS 3) if you use CalDAV and not ActiveSync. That is the main reason why I use Google Calendar via CalDAV since there is – at least for me – no major drawback in comparison to ActiveSync.

Contacts via ActiveSync is another issue BTW. Why isn't it possible to sync all contact information via ActiveSync? I still sync my contacts via iTunes. I had high hopes for but Apple has refused to accept the app so far.

JGF said...

I used to use CalDAV, perhaps that's why I remember color assignment being less brown. With ActiveSync I get the ability to manage invitations, and I consolidate my signins. Of course I don't have CalDAV for corporate calendars.

I sync Contacts from work via ActiveSync, home via MobileMe. Contacts are even less standardized than appointments, so not surprising they don't sync well.

Martin said...

Is a the color issue an ActiveSync or an Apple problem?

The same goes for the contacts issue: Is the support for only a limited number of address fields an ActiveSync, an Apple or even a Google (Google Sync) problem?

I cannot use ActiveSync for contacts on my iPhone as long as not all address fields get synced and I cannot even choose which ones.

JGF said...

I think the color issue is an Apple problem. If ActiveSync does provide color data then Apple isn't using that information, if it doesn't then Apple is using a poor algorithm to assign colors.

The contacts issues is neither an Apple nor a Google problem. Consider the simple example of a 'name' field. Is it first, last, middle, or just one string? The answer varies all across the world. There really isn't a correct answer.

Contact information is insanely rich. Outlook has about 100 fields, including things like Boss's admin's pet cat name. There's no end to it.

There are 'standards' for calendar info that sort of work, but the standards for contacts are a real issue. (See:

Jason said...

It does appear in the latest iOS beta that you can at least choose a color for ActiveSync calendars, although you are limited to colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown