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iPhone for newbies

I finally did it, I got an iPhone. I had been putting it off although my iPhone acolyte mate had been waving one under my nose for a while extolling it’s virtues and showing me all the Apps and stuff he had downloaded. But it got too much hassle to carrying around both my Palm Tungsten TX and my Motorola KRZR phone. I suppose I should have taken that as a reality check right there, but you get to rely on these things and whilst life could continue without them, it’s a lot easier with them. But I wanted it all in one package, looked at the Blackberry and didn’t fancy it.

So has it been all I had hoped it would? Well since this blog is about business, I have to say the response from a business point of view is “no”. Two of the biggest issues for business are likely to be ability to synchronise with Outlook, including picking up emails whilst out of the office, and being able to carry (and edit) Windows based Microsoft Office files.

Email really isn’t a problem with a full range of email protocols, you can use pop3, emap or exchange connections. Where I did encounter problems was when I tried to synchronise Outlook. For a start the iPhone, which uses the iTunes software for synchronisation, does not synchronise Notes and Tasks at all. Period. After a short while Calendar stopped synchronising new entries and a long trawl through an awful lot of message boards and help sites, including Apples own, forced me to the conclusion that the iTunes synchronisation does not cope with recurring appointments that get moved. So if you have a recurring appointment that normally happens on a Thursday, and you have to move it for one week to a Monday for instance, that seems to be enough to break the synchronisation. If the lack of Notes was an issue, this came close to being a return the phone issue.

Fortunately even if Apple don’t think this is important enough to fix, there are developers out there who do. If you have to have Notes like I do then a small purchase of currently £5.99 at the Apple iPhone Apps store gets you Chapura Keynotes which does the job and does it well. You download a small program which sits in the system tray on your desktop and synchronises every 15, 30 or 60 minutes or manually when you double-click the icon. You synchronise the iPhone wirelessly either manually or when you open the App on the iPhone. Job done. Although I don’t use it, you can also do the same for tasks with Chapura Tasks.

So that left me with the Calendar issue which meant a major start-over which I tried or creating new Outlook profiles and all sorts of nonsense. Or buying another App. Guess which one I went for. As it turns out, there isn’t one that does the job, but there is SaiSuke Google Calendar Sync which not surprisingly syncs with Google Calendar. Having already got a Google account a long time ago, setting it up so that Outlook syncs with Google Calendar was pretty straight forward as was syncing with Google Calendar from the iPhone.

So there we have it as far as Outlook is concerned, what about Office files? Well as far as I can see to date, there is no App which allows editing of Microsoft Office files in the way Documents to Go did on my Palm. We are promised an iPhone version Real Soon Now, but it is yet to make an appearance. Assuming it costs a reasonable amount, this really has to be a must have for me. I’ll let you know when it is finally released. It is possible to sync via Google Documents and I suppose that is a possible solution, but for now I will wait a little longer for DataViz to get their act together.

This is intended to be the first of a series based on my experiences with the iPhone, ie real world usage, which will include Apps I myself use and peripherals like hands free I have bought and what I think of them. However if you have an indispensable App yourself and would like to tell the world about it, contact me and let me know.

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