Steve Jobs’ WWDC 2008 announcements about iPhone 2.0 software and the 3G iPhone on Monday have generated considerable excitement as well as questions. Personally, I am most excited about MobileMe, a service from Apple which replaces .Mac and will offer many new features including “push calendar and contacts.” I’ve struggled with calendar synchronization issues the past two years, using MS Outlook / Exchange in my office on a WinXP laptop, my Macbook when I’m traveling and presenting (and at home of course) as well as my iPhone. I’ve written about my past synchronization experiences and woes in my posts “Synchronizing contacts across 3 platforms” (May 2007), “Plaxo addresses sync issues with contacts” (June 2007), “Outlook to iPhone sync process working” (July 2007), “Pleased with Plaxo” (11 Nov 2007), and “Abandoning Plaxo” (21 Nov 2007).

Mobile Me discussion at WWDC June 2008

Apple has posted guidance for .Mac users anticipating the switch to MobileMe, but so far I have not seen anything which addresses my main question: Will GMail/Google Calendar or Yahoo Mail/Yahoo Calendar interoperate, sync, or work “with” MobileMe? Several years ago I transitioned (for my personal email) away from client-based email software programs (I used Entourage extensively for several years, as well as Apple Mail) and started utilizing Yahoo Mail exclusively. About a month ago I made a switch to GMail, and have LOVED it, especially the way it aggregates/threads email conversations. (I HATE the way my MS Outlook version on the Windows side can’t presently do this– when an email goes out to a distribution list and multiple people respond, a confusing morass of time-consuming messages is created which I find unnecessarily tedious.) Hopefully, calendar sync options will be available for Google Calendar and Yahoo Calendar. I’m not entirely opposed to switching my personal email and calendar over to the new MobileMe interface, but I REALLY want to maintain the features of GMail which I’m growing to love. I’m still using Yahoo Calendar because I found that Yahoo Intellisync (free) works reasonably well with my MS Outlook/Exchange calendar.

All this discussion of email programs and options reminds me of Eudora and people I have (and in some cases continue to) assist and support with their email. Some folks (especially in less enlightened organizational IT departments) like to complain about Mac users and how they can be quirky relative to Windows users, but how about Eudora users? When it comes to folks that don’t want anyone to “move their cheese” by suggesting they should utilize a different email program, Eudora users are surely close to the top of the list! Change IS difficult for human beings, but in the arena of information technology it is also inevitable. I don’t support change for change’s sake, but I do think it is important that we encourage and support others in making transitions to new programs, new operating systems, and new user interfaces. (Please don’t read this as an endorsement for Windows Vista or MS Office 2007, however.) It’s interesting to note that Qualcomm is no longer selling or supporting Eudora commercially, but an open source version of Eudora is now being developed. Change is a constant when it comes to information technologies, and even Eudora users (eventually) have to make some changes to their “old ways.” 🙂

Overall I think it is a WONDERFUL thing Apple is adding a strong focus on enterprise customers with these latest iPhone and MobileMe announcements. Like it or not, MS Outlook/Exchange is utilized by a lot folks, and the ranks of iPhone users are sure to grow by leaps and bounds with more robust (and secure) support of enterprise applications like Exchange and secure VPN.

One of the questions I had after following a live blog of the WWDC keynote on Monday concerned the GPS in the iPhone and Google Maps: Is the GPS chip in my “old” iPhone the same one as the GPS chip in the 3G iPhone, and is it a “real” GPS like my Garmin eTrex Legend HCx? All my questions have not been answered, but I have learned that the new iPhone 3G includes “Assisted GPS.” AGPS is evidently faster than plain / traditional GPS because it uses local cell phone towers to identify a device’s location faster. I’m not expecting my first-generation iPhone to have or be able to utilize this feature, I understand this will be something special on the 3G iPhone. I AM expecting to be able to utilize MobileMe and all of its associated beneficial features, however, and that has me most excited amidst all these recent iPhone announcements.

Too bad we have to wait till July 11th to give all these new software features a try, since that is after NECC 2008! 🙁

Funambol is an open source mobile messaging and calendaring service which provides similar functionality to MobileMe but is free. (Nod to Matt Asay.) Funambol does support the iPhone, so it will be interesting to see how the functionality available from MobileMe (for $99 per year) will be differentiated from Funambol.

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4 Responses to iPhone, MobileMe, Eudora users and Assisted GPS

  1. Wes-

    I have some of the same questions…thanks as always for digging deeper into the apple enigma. I don’t have an iphone right now, but I’m thinking about getting an ipod touch. Do you know if the touch will have all the cool mobile me options for push email, contacts, etc.?

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Ken: Yes, from what I understand the iPod Touch will fully support MobileMe. Currently the iPod Touch doesn’t have a digital camera and of course you can only get online via WiFi, not through an available cell phone network (EDGE or 3G.) Those are the two biggest features (from what I see) that differentiate the iPod Touch from the iPhone– there are other differences, including the AGPS feature, but those seem like the biggest differences. For people who either don’t have an available AT&T EDGE or 3G network, or are satisfied with just getting online from WiFi access points, I think the iPod Touch is a great solution. I have (to date) just played with it at the Apple Store a bit. I’m encouraging my wife to get an iPhone because of how easy it makes text messaging– she has tried text messaging on her small handset and found it very cumbersome…

  3. Dean Mattson says:

    Ken: Yes, the iPod Touch will have all of that. Except for the GPS, the camera and the phone, the iPod Touch has everything the iPhone has. But it’s that camera that makes the iPhone very tempting for me. Plus, I think some third party developers are going to come up with ways to give the iPhone some video and audio recording abilities. If that happens, I’ll be looking to buy an older used iPhone but not activating it. The ability to create content is getting easier and easier.

  4. […] and learned something GREAT I thought I’d pass along. As I wrote in my June 11th post, “iPhone, MobileMe, Eudora users and Assisted GPS,” I’ve been grappling with address book synchronization issues for many months. I’ve […]

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