Google late Wednesday opened up its much-anticipated Calendar service to the public in beta form, complete with Gmail integration and SMS notifications. Code-named CL2, the free service enables users to quickly add events and reminders, send invitations and share their calendar with others.
Google Calendar can import events directly from Microsoft Outlook and Yahoo! Calendar, in addition to supporting calendar standards to view schedules on any device supporting iCal or XML files. Gmail will also recognize events mentioned in an e-mail to quickly add them to Google Calendar.
Sharing also plays a central role in the new service. Users can search their own agenda and even public calendars to find new events. Invitations can be sent to those even without a Google account, enabling them to post responses directly into the calendar.
For protection of sensitive data, limits can be placed on what events are shared, and organizations can even open their events to the world by integrating a Google Calendar button on their Web sites. The search giant also discusses potential privacy concerns, noting that it won’t share personal information with anyone.
“Google’s computers process the information in your calendars to offer you the best possible service, including formatting and displaying the information to you and backing up your calendars’ contents. Google employees will not read your private calendar information,” the company says.
Google Calendar works in IE 6 and Firefox on Windows, Mac and Linux. Safari support is still in the works, according to the company.