More than 3.5 million events are created each month on Facebook, and the average Facebook user is invited to 3 of them per month. So if you’re one of the millions who uses Facebook Events to share your plans, or Facebook Birthdays to keep track of friends birthdays, then you should check out fbCal.
Built by calendar aggregation company Mixin, the free service lets you automatically synchronize this Facebook information to a variety of other calendar services, including Google Calendar, Apple’s iCal (including directly in the iPhone), Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Sunbird, and Lotus Notes.
Once you complete the syncing process, you’ll be able to see calendar entries for events and birthdays from Facebook within any of these programs.
Facebook itself lets you subscribe to individual events, which is a good option if you want to only add individual events. It has previously also let you do a bulk export of events so you can track upcoming ones automatically, albeit not with granular features that fbcal offers. However, while the bulk exporter option is still available for use by developers on the platform, and live for people who have previously set it up, it is no longer visible on the Events page. It used to be, but seems to have disappeared with the redesign earlier this month (we have an email in to Facebook about that and we’ll update when we hear back).
Instructions obviously vary for each program, and the company details them here. There are a few options to note for the calendar entires. You can choose to subscribe to various types of event statuses you’ve previously marked in Facebook, from “Attending” at the minimum to “Attending, Maybe attending, Not attending, Awaiting Reply” at the maximum. You can also subscribe to your Facebook calendar entries by RSS, if you prefer using Google Reader or another reader. Or you can download your existing entries directly — the problem with that option is that you won’t get the automatic updates from Facebook. FbCal provides the calendar in the iCalendar format (.ics), which is also used by other calendar applications beyond the ones we list here. Finally, among general features, you can set the time zone so the events match your calendar.
The birthday feature can also be useful, although it is a bit noisy if you have a lot of Facebook friends — a good addition would be a way to select the Facebook friends whose birthdays you want to remember.
We tried the service out with Apple’s iCal, and it worked very well. Click on the iCal logo for Events and the iCal desktop app loads, and asks you to subscribe to the Events calendar you’ve selected. Hit Subscribe and you’ll create a new Facebook Calendar (you can then choose a color, and other iCal options), then you’ll see your Facebook items auto-populated.