Tag Archives: Gadgets

activesync coming to the iphone?

So much for the lines. A buddy of mine just called, saying he waltzed into the Lenox Square Apple Store at 8pm EDT and simply asked for and was handed his iPhone. No camping required, which is a good thing, because his wife threatened legal action if any urban camping was involved in his quest for this gadget

Well, I may have to eat my words. First, ZDnet blogger Mary Jo Foley who covers Microsoft reports rumors of ActiveSync licensing to be announced at any time for the iPhone. That means, for those companies who enable this feature on their Exchange servers, OTA sync would be possible for email and calendars on the iPhone – glory be, hallelulia! I want to see Apple confirm this, but this basically blows away the issues around corporate integration. Second, uber-tech writer from the WSJ Walt Mossberg makes an offhand comment in his video review of the device that Exchange integration is possible “if your IT department cooperates by enabling a setting on the server.” Now he didn’t specifically talk about ActiveSync, and may have simply been referring to the capability of Exchange servers to support outside-the-firewall IMAP, but I am keeping my fingers crossed on iPhone & ActiveSync. Mary Jo reports confirmation in both the Times and WSJ on the issue of Exchange IMAP support, but still stands by her report that Microsoft is licensing ActiveSync for the device. And there is an outside chance the gadget fairy may bless me with one of these for testing. Now I’m interested again.

what iPhone?

Bah, humbug. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know you’ve heard it all before. I’m sure you were expecting to hear that I’m skipping work, camping out at Lenox Mall to get a shiny new iPhone Friday afternoon. Well, for many reasons, I decided weeks ago that without the integration with with my company’s Microsoft Exchange systems for over-the-air calendar features and push email, the first generation iPhone was not going to be on my shopping list, at least for now. I’ll wait for the bugs to get ironed out, true 3G network support, and better corporate support. I’m now (as of a couple of weeks ago) the proud new owner of Research in Motion’s latest offering, the spiffy new Blackberry Curve/8300 (middle, above).

And let me tell you, I feel like I’ve entered the 21st century when comparing this smartphone with the horrendous Verizon/HTC VX6700 Windows Mobile (far right, above) device I’ve been using for over a year now. Lack of usability doesn’t even begin to describe the issues with the Vx6700. Resets required two and three times a day, calls going directly to voice mail, horrible battery life, and the form factor of a brick. I had such high hopes for Windows Mobile as a breath of fresh air over what I’d been using before – the third in a series of Palm Treos I’d been using since 2002 or so. Before that, I’d lived with a series of the very early and sometimes somwhat crude Blackberry devices for several years. I may be a power user, with thousands of emails in my inbox etc., but no commercially available device should perform as poorly as that VX6700.

What do I want in a smartphone? I’ve already said it’s an absolute must to have the OTA calendaring and overall Exchange integration. The iPhone is admittedly an amazing device, but without a hack to provide these features, I remain tethered to a laptop or desktop somewhere to keep my crazy calendar in check, and that’s what having one of these phones is all about. The new Curve is very satisfying. It’s got a great screen that adapts surprisingly well to changes in ambient light, the camera is great to have and offers decent quality for a phone, and the web browsing experience is actually quite good. Perceptually, web browsing on this device seems faster than the sluggish overhead from Windows Mobile on the VX6700, particularly on mobile-optimized sites.

Like the iPhone, the ‘full-web’ experience on the Curve is pathetic – using AT&T/Cingular’s pokey ‘Edge’ network for fully broadband-optimized web sites. But I find this all a small price to pay for the convenience, reliability, and generally instantly-responsive behavior of the Blackberry Curve – not to mention corporate tech support at the office being behind it 100%.

Gushing for the Mac

I think they’ve outdone themselves – the new iPhone (despite the Cisco product by the same name) looks absolutely killer – taking a completely fresh approach to the UI of the mobile phone, and creating a true mashup of relevant technologies. Apple has posted a great walkthrough of the features including their interesting approach to many of these features at http://apple.com/iphone/ – check it out.
Although I need to see it to really understand and confirm, Jobs keynote speech seemed to describe the new phone as less a touchscreen and more of a ‘proximity’ screen – where your gestures, not ham-handed mashing of buttons triggers responses. So from unlocking it (a side to side gesture over an on-screen ‘slider’) to zooming in on webpages or images by ‘pinching’ the area of interest, this sounds like an amazing step forward. It’s super slim – 11.6mm thick, about the width of the Uniball pen I carry around. It’s running some flavor of OSX, so development of applications will hopefully be straightforward. And it includes some very tight integration with Cingular (exclusive in the domestic market for some time to come) in regards to a visual form of voice mail – where each message can be accessed independently, rather than the typical wading through obscure menus. And it includes robust Wifi and Bluetooth 2.0, with some very smart widget integration from Google Maps (GPS of some sort active here), to Weather (location aware), to Stock Quotes. No RSS shown, but I suspect that’s probably not hard to pull off either. Anyway, at a price of most other ‘smartphones’ like by Verizon PPC6700, this is a strong contender. Too bad it doesn’t include an expansion card slot. My only hesitations here are that although it supports IMAP or POP email, getting to my corporate Exchange server is my top priority, as well as the fact that it’s on Cingular, when I’ve recently moved over to Verizon. I may still be drawn to try this out come June. Price is not bad either, at $499 for the 4gb or $599 for 8gb.

Also announced to day was the shipping date (February) and the final name (Apple TV) of the ITV product mentioned here previously. No big surprises there, although it’s now confirmed to include a hard drive (40gb) as well as 802.11n, the speediest of the current close-to-standard Wifi technologies. These features were both rumored over the last few months.
Not mentioned in the Stevenote was the addition of a new Airport Extreme Base Station, shaped to fit squarely below or above your brand-new Apple TV box. See picture at right. The unit is prices at $179, and includes a USB port for shared devices, as well as a hub to connect other Ethernet devices. Obviously, this is also an 802.11n device. Apple has a new feature built in here to provide extended network storage as well. You can connect an external USB hard drive to your network via the USB port, or attach a USB hub to connect multiple devices. Ideal for network-attached storage of large video, image or music libraries or simply for backups.

Tivo To Go Released

TiVo has announced the release of their TiVo To-Go feature, a much ballyhood new capability with significant DRM included to placate rights holders. The software allows you to move recordings between your networked TiVo Series2 DVR and your computer (for now, Windows only). But with previous capabilities using Mac’s Rendezvous technology for picture and music sharing, I’m hoping the Mac software is not far behind. Now to go and get a TiVo 2 machines to replace my old first generation box.