Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Publish Exchange Online Calendar to Android

As with many firms out there, mobile devices fall into a BYOD strategy so I have come to really like the Outlook app for Android as it "containerizes" my work email. Over the years, I have tried them all from Touchdown to Boxer (formally Enhanced Email) and settled on Outlook currently. However they generally use ActiveSync so any security rules ActiveSync enables can take over the device. It is MY device, not my firms.

With that said though, unlike many people I use my work calendar for work related entries and my personal Google calendar (hosted on G Suite) for personal stuff, Android pulls from there. So my work calendar will just show a PTO block (marked out of office) for that appointment time (plus travel and what not) and my personal calendar shows all the details. Keeps things nice and separated.

The problem is that I live out of my mobile device so one thing I am challenged by using the Outlook app, is the calendar. While Outlook publishes contacts to the phone, that is all, nothing else. Strangely the old Outlook.com app would publish the calendar to the system though. I use and love a fantastic app app called Business Calendar Pro to manage all my calendars as well as give me one pane of glass via its widgets. All color coded and pretty.

On my Moto X (2014) I had both Outlook and Boxer syncing which means Boxer uses ActiveSync so it took over my phone but I got the calendar for my single pane as a compromise. Ick but I lived with it until recently when Samsung gave me a shiny new Galaxy S8 to use for a bit so I thought I would set it up differently, especially now that we have migrated to Exchange Online via Office365.

Sure enough there is a useful option out there, as long as your Office365 admin does not disable it, called Calendar Sharing. Very easy to setup though the process may change as Microsoft does change the Office365 online experience but as of this writing it is quick and easy.

Share Process

1. Access your Calendar via one of several methods:

2. Click the gear icon in upper right

3. Under Your App Settings, select Calendar

4. On the left choose Calendar publishing

5. Configure permissions by choosing either 'Full Details' or 'Limited Details'. The difference is Limited only shows day/time whereas full shows everything in the body such as Skype dial in info. Click Save when done.

6. Copy the ICS link a tthe bottom as you'll need it later.

7. Navigate over to your Google Calendar and on the left you will find Other Calendars. Hover over it and click the down arrow and choose Add by URL then paste the URL from step 6.

Now you have your Exchange Online calendar present in Google Calendar as Read Only. You can select the down arrow and rename, change the color etc. I have mine turned off on the web calendar as I only want it on my phone. Additionally I renamed to my company.

8. After your phone does its next sync, goto your favorite calendar app (mine being Business Calendar Pro) on your phone and enable the calendar. Bam! There it is.

Two things to point out again.

  1. This feature can be disabled by your Office365 Admin(s)
  2. It is read only
Since Outlook Online Calendar publishes as ICS or HTML you can use in other solutions as well.

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