It’s no longer just about email – contacts and calendaring are now nearly as important as each company seeks to have a bigger slice of your life online.
These type of services are also important depending on what phone you use; Google, Microsoft and Apple services all plug into the mobile phones that each company sells. This is no bad thing, since if you lose your phone your crucial information – notably phone numbers – are backed up online. Your information is safe and is backed up automatically.
So it’s high time we helped you decide on the type of service you need Let’s see which company’s offering is best for you.
- Best for: Complete information junkies
The web giant has always preached that storing data in the cloud was the way forward and so it has proved. Google Calendar is its key service alongside Gmail and is without doubt the best calendaring app online. All Google’s apps work in a web browser.
You can share calendars with other contacts – useful for work and home, while you can turn off which calendars you’re viewing at any one time. Important for that work-life balance. You’re also able to invite other contacts to events as well as import calendars, say one featuring the season’s football or rugby fixtures.
Sadly though, the company’s Google Contacts feature is nowhere near as good. It’s surprising since Android handsets rely on this feature as part of your Google Account.
Still, Google’s service remains the one to beat – it’s doubtful if Microsoft and Google would be as committed to the cloud cause if it wasn’t for them.
- Best for: iPhone and iPad users
If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you’ll have been offered to use iCloud. It offers free contact and calendar synchronization across your devices and even syncs information to Windows PCs and Macs.
The downside is that, while all this works on your phone or can sync with apps on your desktop, you can’t view calendaring information and contacts in your browser.
One bonus of iCloud is that it offers 5GB of space so you can back up other information from your phone such as photos, files and browser favourites. If you need more space you can buy it.
You’ll need iOS 5 or iOS 6 to take advantage of the service, which is a must if you own an iOS device.
It’s worth remembering that you can actually use iCloud alongside other web services; so you could back up your information to iCloud while using Google Calendar too – these services aren’t all or nothing.
- Best for: Those who are social
Microsoft launched MSN Messenger back in 1999 and bought Hotmail in 1998, but it wasn’t until later that it really got into live services with the launch of Windows Live; which included calendars and contacts.
Microsoft is in the process of re-branding Windows Live to prepare for the launch of Windows 8 in October.
The main advantage of using Microsoft’s web services is its integration with social services such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. Windows Live is designed to import updates from these so expect this to continue as Microsoft revamps the services.
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