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Posts tagged ‘Android’

One cloud to sync them all (or not as the case may be)

Over the last few years I have used various free and paid for sync services. Utopia for me is to have a folder full of documents and files that exists on all devices I use including mobile.

So previously, I found that Microsoft Live Mesh did that job. It had a client for Windows, Mac and Windows Mobile as well as a web portal. I could add any folder on any device to my “Mesh” and it would sync with all other devices in the Mesh in near real time.

In reality that meant that if I took a photo with the camera on my phone, in a matter of seconds, that photo had been copied back to my desktop onto my web based storage.

The only thing I did not like however was that Mesh had another feature. It allowed you to connect via the internet to any other machine in the Mesh and create a remote desktop session giving you full control over the remote machine. This was not something that could be switched off in the software (although a registry hack soon killed the feature for me).

But now I have moved to Android and I cannot find a replacement. Mesh does not have an Android client and I have yet to find anything else that does 2 way sync.

I have tried Zumodrive, SugarSync, DropBox and others but they all have 2 distinct downfalls.

1. I cannot add existing folders on my desktop into the sync. I can only sync files that are inside the applications own folders

2. I cannot add any folders on my mobile device to the sync

This is very much a 1 way sync process and very frustrating. Indeed with some of these applications, they do not sync with the phone at all. Instead when you click on the file you want to open, you have to wait for that file to download off the server. This has 2 downsides.

1. If I am out and about, I am reliant on using the 3G data connection on my phone which can be expensive

2. If I am out of coverage, I cannot get the file at all.

To me, this is not file synchronisation at all.

Now the worse thing is that Mesh is nearing the end of it’s life. With the next release of the Windows Live web applications we are going to see Windows Live Sync and Windows Live Mesh merge with Windows Live SkyDrive. This should be a good thing but what do we think the odds are of a client for non Windows mobile devices?

So I am stuck.

I can’t sync files off my mobile device easily and can’t sync files onto my mobile device to be used offline later.

Whilst I am sure there must be an app for that, I can’t find it so any clues?

HTC Desire – New toy

For many years I have been a die hard Windows Mobile fan. Sure the iPhone has a flash interface and some of the Nokia phones look real pretty but WM just did what I wanted. A phone first that played nice with my companies Exchange server.

So Blackberry also does all of this and if I were to ask for one, my company would give me one is a flash but whilst the Blackberry is a great messaging device, as a phone, it falls a long way short.

So over the years I have had an iMate JamIn, a HTC S710 and a HTC S740. All of which I have been really happy with but it is time for a change.

So the iPhone is still ruled out. Whilst the interface is nice, it is a closed system. By this I mean that I can’t just install a bit of software as I please. I have to go via the iTunes store which only contains software “approved” by Apple. Hence the stories in the news around them not allowing Google Talk, Adobe Flash and so on. On top of this, whilst it will sync with Exchange, it does not honour the security settings (indeed there are reports of it actually lying to Exchange on the security front just to get a connection) and the encryption and security on the device are poor at best.

Of course for many users, none of this matters and lets be fair, the iPhone is not being sold as a business phone so maybe I am being over critical.

Windows Mobile on the other hand has none of the above problems.

BUT

It is starting to get long in the tooth and there is a new version out later this year. To their credit HTC have done a great job with their HTC Sense overlay which makes Windows Mobile soooo much better plus there is no guarantee that then Windows Mobile 7 comes out, it will not have the same problems as the iPhone.

So this brings me onto Android. The infamous Google operating system.

When I have looked at this in the past, the MS Exchange support has been bad. Really really bad. The Android forums are full or people complaining how it simply does not play. But with the recent 2.1 build, the reports have changed. Indeed at least one review said that the Exchange experience was even better than Windows Mobile!

So after a lot of checking, testing, reading and so on, Android seemed to fit the bill. And this happened at the same time HTC launched their new HTC Desire handset. The temptation was strong.

And then last week when I was teetering on the edge of ordering, somebody came into the office who actually had a Desire in their hands raving about how nice it was. Add to this that he had an iPhone before hand, this was praise indeed.

So I had a play, tested it with various things (including the bluetooth in my Car) and I was sold.

HTC Desire

So having had the phone a few days, and remembering this is my primary business phone, is it any good?

With Microsoft Exchange over ActiveSync, it just works. Push email, Calendar, Contacts all behave exactly how they should. It also obeys all the Exchange security policies including remote wipe.

With my BMW Bluetooth setup (which can be fussy at the best of times) again everything works.

With Google Apps, as you would expect on a Google phone, faultless however there is one gotcha on this one.

As Google users will know, with Google Apps, you end up with 2 Google accounts. Your Apps account that gives you email, docs, calendar etc and a second account for things like Google Maps, Reader, News, Photos and other Google services. Now Google have said that they will allow you to use your Apps login for all of these services later in the year but for now you need 2.

So when you set up your Android phone, it will take the first Google account you enter as the primary account and use it for maps, reader and so on. You cannot change this even when you add your second Google account details. So whatever you do, add your none Google Apps account details FIRST and then add your Google Apps details. Fail to do this and you will have to wipe your phone and start again.

So beyond this, what is the phone like?

The screen is fantastic and with a 1Ghz CPU the phone is very very quick even with loads of stuff going on. It is also very clever with WiFi, connecting whenever a signal is available. Oddly however where on my old phone, leaving WiFi on would kill the battery in a couple of hours, this is not the case and I can leave this turned on 24×7.

I am still getting into the concept of Apps and can see there are thousands in the market place but so far, this thing is very impressive. Just like the phones I have had before hand, IT JUST WORKS.

So give me a week or so to use this thing in anger but so far I cannot think or a reason not to recommend it and even the iPhone users think so. High praise indeed

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