Get Your Sync On

february 10, 2009

Google Sync
I have been using mail2web for a while now (relatively) to do my over-the-air synchronization of my phone to the "cloud" (I hate that term).  It has worked well, the only real drawbacks are:

I have tried the Google Calendar + Google Contacts + Nuevasync combination before, but I always pulled back because:
If only Google could do what Nuevasync does:  Activesync with Windows Mobile devices (and also iPhones/iPod touches).  That would make Google Calendar and Google Contacts so much more useful.

Sometime yesterday, Google did just that.  They released a "beta" for their Google Sync product.  Last night, I tried to set it up and I am not sure if it was Google Sync or my phone:  But, it all bombed and I was left without anything.  I would try to sync and my contacts sync would hit 100 and then stall.  Thankfully, I did a backup before futzing around.

I tried again this afternoon and things worked swimmingly.  The updates are quite quick from both Contacts and Calendar.  And the setup for a Windows Mobile phone is pretty easy if you follow the directions provided.

So, while I still have some niggling concerns about privacy and I still hate the Google Contacts interface, I like having it all work together with my phone.  I also like having it all run on my own domain (mookiesplace.org) using Google Apps.  And, I am going to setup Lightning with my Thunderbird again so that I can also manage my contacts from there.  Oh, and having a way to backup my contacts and calendars into an open format is a big plus.

There are somethings missing though.  Mainly, they are the other two things that a real Activesync setup can provide:  Push email and tasks.  Even though Google has Tasks in Gmail, there is no way to synchronize those to a phone.  And there is no way to push email from Gmail over to a phone.  So, I still keep my mail2web account open so that I can have push email. I was not a huge user of Tasks in Exchange, so that is not a big loss.

The only loser in all of this is Nuevasync, whose business plan was just torpedoed by Google when Google Sync was released.  Outside of being able to synchronize contacts with Plaxo, there is no more reason to use Nuevasync for Google synchronization.

Oh, wait there is another big loser:  Apple's MobileMe.  Sure, there will be people sticking around with MobileMe because they like the fluffy features like multiple Mac sync, Webpages, or storage.  But, really, if all you need is to keep your contacts and calendars synchronized over-the-air, there is no more reason to pay Apple $99 a year for that service.

So, thanks for all the free bandwidth and processing cycles Google.

Update:  Interesting.  I thought Google had reverse-engineered Activesync (like Nuevasync or Z-Push) in order to make Google Sync work, but they did not.  They licensed Activesync from Microsoft. Wow. I guess bitter enemies can still do business and money is the universal language.  Can this be seen as Google saying that Microsoft's Activesync technology is superior?

Update: I have since switched back to using mail2web only.  The problem is that having push mail from mail2web along with calendar and contacts from Google does not work.  The mail gets pushed, but the calendar and contacts do not.  So, rather than try to mess around, I will stick with the proven all-in-one solution for the time being.  Maybe one day when Google Sync gets out of beta, it will have push Gmail.