Setting up an iPhone or other non-Android smartphone to sync with Gmail's services just got a little more difficult. Google is dropping consumer support for the Exchange ActiveSync protocol soon as a part of a "Winter Cleaning," the company has announced. As a replacement, Google is recommending CalDAV for calendar, CardDAV for contacts, and IMAP for email — though obviously iPhone owners will also likely use the new Gmail app for that. The move isn't entirely unexpected, Google has been updating its help pages to deprecate Exchange ActiveSync recently, leading us to speculate that it would be dropping support.
Using the Exchange ActiveSync protocol to connect smartphones to Google's services was a very convenient way to get contacts, calendars, and especially push email set up. More recently, its importance has lessened as smartphones have had built-in auto-setup for Google accounts, but it's still disappointing to see it go away. The situation on Windows Phone may be more dire, with Google deciding not to offset the end of EAS with apps as it has on iPhone.
Google Sync will be fully supported for people who have paid for a Google Apps account for business, government, or education. For consumers, Google says that Sync will no longer be available on new accounts beginning on January 30th, 2013 — but it will still work for users who have already set it up. Calendar Sync support is already gone for new users, though again existing setups will continue to work. Google has provided a full FAQ about the Google Sync end-of-life with more details, and you can see how to set up your iPhone with Google's services here.
Alongside this announcement, Google also dropped support for Google Sync for Nokia S60, SyncML, and some little-used Google Calendar features like "Smart Rescheduler."