Google just announced a new method for iOS users to sync Google Contacts. Beginning today, the company is supporting the open CardDAV standard on Apple hardware running iOS 5 or later. Until this point, Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync had been the sole option for anyone that wanted to sync their contact list and have changes immediately reflected across their devices.

Mac OS X users are likely to see the benefits of CardDAV implementation as well. Whereas the existing desktop Google Contact syncing method requires manual user input — you have to click an icon in the OS X taskbar to initiate the process — CardDAV is fully automated and works behind the scenes.

CardDAV joins IMAP and CalDAV among Google's preferred sync technologies, with the other two handling email and calendar duties, respectively. "By supporting IMAP, CalDAV, and CardDAV together, we’re making it possible for 3rd parties to build a seamless Google Account sync experience," says product manager Jeff Ellingson. It's been rumored that Google is considering phasing out support for ActiveSync, and it now has a viable alternative in CardDAV. We wouldn't expect Microsoft's push services to be axed in the immediate future, however: Google still encourages anyone using Google Apps for Business to stick with its traditional Exchange-powered Google Sync option.