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Trying to understand Google/Android calendars

Posted on 2013-01-03
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Last Modified: 2014-11-12
I have a Samsung smartphone.  When I go to the Calendar, I see the following:

My calendar
my exchange active sync calendar
gmail.com address calendar
Contacts birthdays and...  (gmail.com)
US Holidays (gmail.com)

I was hoping there would be just one calendar, but having 5 separate ones seems a bit confusing.  What is the "My calendar" calendar, and why is it different than the others?  Is there a way to consolidate them all?  What is the intended design of having multiple calendars on a smart phone?

Sorry to ask questions that aren't very specific, but my end goal is to try and merge all of my old palm desktop calendar information into my new phone so I can stop carrying around my palm phone (which I only use for calendar information).  I just don't understand where it will merge too, or which calendar it will go to.  I want to use a software called Pimlical which will allow my to merge my old palm calendar into android/google calendars.
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Question by:jbobst
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btdownloads7 earned 500 total points
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There is only one calendar app  that comes preinstalled on your phone. What you're seeing are the sources for the data, and it includes any accounts that you mya have set up on that phone. There is a locally stored one (that doesn't sync to anything and is only store on the phone), and the Gmail and Exchange ones are for your corresponding accounts. The contacts and holidays calendars are from Gmail as well, because that's how your Gmail account is set up. You don't have to use all of those calendars, they are just there by default because you set up those accounts to be synced that way.

If you want to not sync those calendars to your phone, you can go into your phone's settings, and under Accounts, uncheck the calendar option so it will no longe sync to your phone. However, I would suggest that you keep either your Exchange or Gmail calendar because you want to sync all your data outside of the phone.
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by:jbobst
ID: 38751884
Thanks for help.  I think there are more than a few issues in my particular case (as I am seeing strange dates appear from contacts and calendars, but that's another issue).  Thanks for the clarification.
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by:jbobst
ID: 38779390
I know this question is closed, but I was able to figure out the "real" problem to my question.  btdownloads7, if you are still monitoring, maybe you can advise me on this issue?  If not, I can open up a new question.

So, I understand that the "My Calendar" is specific to the phone only, and that the Contacts and gmail calendar are separate.  However, what I am finding is that I have varying behavior with my contacts and how they are displayed on my phone.  I only use the Birthday field in the contacts as the important field.  So some of my contacts appear twice on my phone...under the "My Calendar" and under the "Contacts" calendar...and of course both are color coded so I can easily distinguish what is coming from where.  However, other contact records ONLY display the birthday on the "My Calendar" and other contact birthdays ONLY appear under the "Contacts" calendar.  Why is there a discrepancy with this?  I took a few of my contacts, deleted all references to the birthday day, and made sure the phone and computer were synced up.  And of course there was nothing on any calendar since I deleted the birthday.  So, I went back and added a birthday date in the google contacts, and then the phone only showed the birthday under the "My Calendar".  How can this be?  The end result I am hoping for is to simply disable the "My Calendar", but if some of my contacts birthdays are showing up under this calendar ONLY, then I can't remove it from the view list.  The fact that various things are happening and not consistent also bothers me.  Any ideas?
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by:btdownloads7
ID: 38779456
I'm actually getting pretty confused about which calendars you actually have on your phone. It's entirely possible that you installed some kind of an app that scrapes all the contact birthdays and inserts them into the phone's calendar (which is why it may be getting duplicated). There is also a chance that you're using a 3rd-party calendar app, which may be doing the same thing.

Since you only want the Google contacts & calendar anyway, there's the only sure way to resolve this:

1. Make sure that any contacts and calendar data you want are on your Google calendar (not on your phone, but on their website). If they are missing, you'll have to enter them manually.

2. Go into Settings --> Accounts, find your Gmail account, and uncheck the contacts and calendar so that they no longer sync. That will remove any data stored on Google from your phone.

3. Any contacts or calendar data that's still left on your phone must be stored locally only, so you'll need to go through and delete all of the remaining contacts and calendar data (make sure that you have that data on the Gmail website, and if not, enter it by hand)

4. Go back into settings an re-check the contacts and calendar sync. At that point the only data on your phone will be coming from (and syncing to) Gmail
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by:jbobst
ID: 38780283
I am sorry it's getting confusing.  I am happy to get into more detail of what I am asking, but there is kind of a long story involved and most people don't want to hear the whole story.  However, the basic question is that I am simply not understanding how the My Calendar (on the android phone), the Google calendar (on the computer) and the contacts (on the computer and phone) interact when it comes to dates...specifically birthdate in my case.  On my phone, I don't have any 3rd party apps that have anything to do with contacts or calendars.

The Calendars I have are:

My calendar (I assume this is the default phone calendar like we discussed before)
name@mydomain.com (which is my exchange account)
name@gmail.com (my gmail account)
Contacts' birthdays and events (supposedly from my gmail contacts)
US Holidays (gmail)

That's it.  I have turned off my exchange account from the calendars view, as I don't care about that at this point.  Exchange seems to be working fine, but I would like to completely disregard the exchange calendar/account for this question.

I don't use my gmail account very much at all, and in fact only have four contact records in my gmail.  These contacts were only created because I was trying to test how it interacts with my android phone.  The four contacts in my gmail only have names and birthdays listed.  One contact birthday shows up in my android phone calendar twice...one birthday is "linked" to the "My Calendar" and the other "event" is linked to the gmail contacts (birthdays and events).  The other three contacts show up in only one calendar, but it's the "My Calendar" on the android phone...and I would think they should appear on the gmail "Contacts Birthdays and Events" calendar, since I entered them in my computer gmail contact records.

My boss' android phone is really what I am trying to figure out, as his contact birthdays are also appearing sometimes in two different calendars (showing up as two occurrences on the birthday) and some contact birthdays appear properly in the gmail "Contacts Birthdays and Events Calendar" and some contact birthdays appear in the "My Calendar".  I just don't understand why some contacts are different and why they don't all show up in the gmail Contacts Birthdays and Events Calendar.

The "long version" of the story is that my boss is trying to get off of his old palm phone and go exclusively to his android phone.  He has his contacts moved over, but he uses this 3rd party "date book" app on his palm phone.  This app I believed is something called Pimlical.  Pimlical now has a version where you can simply download the app to your android phone, and then import everything from the palm desktop to his android phone and he can permanently make the switch over.  However, my boss is having issues understanding how this google calendar and phone calendar interact because we are seeing inconsistent things and are getting frustrated and confused with the inconsistencies.  He is wary of moving his palm data over to the android phone until he can understand the relationship of these calendars and contacts.  He is an extreme user in the sense that he "logs" almost his whole day sometimes into this Pimlical date book app on his palm phone and basically keeps a history of his day to day life with it.  He does not want to use the "My Calendar" on the phone, but he does like the features of the "Holidays" calendar and the "Contacts" calendar (for birthday reminders etc.)  So, this is the reason we are trying to figure out why the birthdays are behaving differently for different contacts.  I hope that makes sense and doesn't confuse the issue more!  One more thing to add...I don't have that Pimlical application on my phone.  I am trying to use my android phone as kind of a "control" source, but I am seeing the same issues as he is when it comes to contacts and calendars behaving differently.
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by:jbobst
ID: 38780303
That was really a long post, and I am afraid I've probably confused you more.

Let me just boil it down to one issue -  How come when I add a contact record in gmail contacts, the birthday event on my android phone appears linked to the "My Calendar" calendar...most of the time.  Shouldn't it appear on the "Contacts' birthdays and events" calendar?

As stated, we have three varying scenarios where the birthday events either appear twice, or in some cases, just in the "My Calendar" or sometimes only in the "Contacts' birthdays and events" calendar.  Hope that simplifies it.  Thanks again for sticking with me on this!
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by:btdownloads7
ID: 38781574
To get it clarified, don't look at the birthdays on the phone, but on the Gmail website. Fist, check if there even is a "Contact's birthdays" calendar there, and then check if everything you see there exactly matches what you see on the phone.

My guess is that there is something either locally installed on the phone, or the way the manufacturer implemented it, whereit tries to add contact's b-days into the local calendar. So that Gmail calendar may do that (and it will sync to the phone), and thephone does is on its own as well, creating duplicates.
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by:jbobst
ID: 38806303
Sorry for the delay on getting back to you.  Unfortunately the issue is that we need to look at the birthdays on the phone...not the gmail website.  The website by the way always shows the correct information.  Meaning, if I toggle on/off the "Birthdays and Events Calendar" ALL the contacts birthdays go on and off (on the website).  The problem is on the phone (where we want to view the birthdays).

I asked another employee who has a Samsung Android phone if I could borrow her phone for testing.  While she has a gmail account, she has never setup the Calendar on the gmail website, and she never uses the gmail contacts.  So, it is about as basic as can be.  So, I logged into her gmail account on the website.  I clicked on the "calendars" and it took me through a little setup wizard where it asked me the time zone and stuff like that.  Then, I went into her gmail contacts, and entered two test contacts (there were no contacts in here to begin with since she doesn't use gmail).  I put in birthdays for these two test contacts and they automatically appeared on the gmail website under the birthdays and events calendar, as they are supposed too.

I then went to her Samsung phone and re-sync'd her gmail account.  Since she hadn't even setup the gmail calendar before and has no gmail contacts the "Birthdays and events Calendar" appeared on the phone after the sync for the first time.  When I went to her Calendar application, the two test contacts birthdays were in the calendar twice...once "coded" to the "My Calendar" and one coded to the "Birthdays and events Calendar".

I went back to the gmail website and added a third test contact and gave that contact a birthday.  I went back to the phone, and re-sync'd.  Now, this third contacts birthday ONLY shows up under the "My Calendar" and not under the Birthdays and events Calendar.

So I can only assume the reason why my phone and my bosses phone are showing some duplicate birthdays, some birthdays only under "My Calendar" and some birthdays only under "Birthdays and Events Calendar" is because of how we originally setup our contacts, calendars and phone (meaning the order in which we setup each thing).  My boss already had a bunch of gmail contacts when he setup his android phone.  He then later on added contacts after the fact.

It just seems like a definite "bug" in the Calendar app and I can't believer there aren't threads all over the internet with similar questions and complaints.  In think I am just going to tell my boss to delete all the birthdays and re-enter them in his gmail account.  The problem then is, he wants them all to appear on the "Birthdays and events Calendar" and it appears that the only way to get your birthdays into that calendar is to wipe your phone and start over with a factory reset as if the phone is brand new and it's the first time you sync with google.

btdownloads7, if you go into your gmail account on a website, add a test contact and give it a birthday, then sync your android phone...I assume you the only calendar this birthday is placed into on your phone is the "My Calendar"...right?  Wouldn't you want that to appear in the "Birthday's and Event's Calendar" on your phone so you could at some phone filter out or in that calendar just to see birthdays?
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by:btdownloads7
ID: 38806501
What you're describing means that your phone is trying to add the contact's b-day to the calendar (instead of letting Gmail do it). That's actually not how the stock Google calendar works in Android. So, I'm thinking that your phone's manufacturer "tweaked" the app, and it's doing this instead of how it's supposed to work.
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by:jbobst
ID: 38806523
I am not sure what brand phone yu have btdownloads7 (sounds like you probably don't have a samsung phone, but not sure).  Are you saying that your phone keeps all the gmail contact birthdays in the "Birthdays and Events Calendar" on your phone?

Maybe I should find a non-Samsung phone here in the office and see if that person experiences something different.
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by:jbobst
ID: 38807339
Called Samsung (and did a chat with them).  After the chat person told me they couldn't help me with the issue, they suggested I call their phone support.  Talked to a guy on level 1 support...tried my best to explain the situation, and he couldn't really figure it out and didn't know how to fix it so he transfered me to level 2 support.  Talked to that guy and he eventually said I would have to talk to Google as it is a function of how their calendars sync and they couldn't help.  He told me that they would probably recommend that I call my phone provider but that I was to tell them that I already spoke to Samsung.  Sounds like I am just going to go in circles with this issue.

At this point, the issue is really a minor one (after all, it's only birthdays and "events" that are the problem), but I am so frustrated and have worked so hard to explain this issue so many times that I am more interested in getting a resolution more to just satisfy my curiosity.
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by:btdownloads7
ID: 38807354
There is nothing that Samsung support can do for you -- it's how they built the source code for their calendar and/or contact apps. Unless you have a phone that runs a clean Android OS (like the Galaxy Nexus), all other manufacturers build their own stuff into the OS. On my Galaxy Nexus, the contact birthdays work perfectly, so I'm pretty sure that the issue has nothing to do with the stock Google calendar implelentation.
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by:jbobst
ID: 38807368
Thanks for the information btdownloads7.  One question though, if Google is not the problem then shouldn't Samsung want to about this issue and be willing to at least send it in to their development team for evaluation?
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by:btdownloads7
ID: 38807387
Yes, informing them is definitely a good idea, I just didn't want you to get your expectations up think that they'll be able to fix it any time soon. They basically have to fix the app (if they decide that they want to), and submit it for the next firmware update. And chances are, but that time, there will be an updated version of the OS rolling out anyway.
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