I've always wanted to have access to my data whenever and wherever I am, be that calendar, email or documents, and a few years ago most of these things would have been a pipe dream unless you had your own server and a lot of spare time to come up with a custom solution. These days it's a lot easier thanks to cloud computing with many services allowing you to sync up your data.
Whether it's a wise move or not I've moved my e-mail over to a hosted Google Apps account and now have access to my inbox via the web, IMAP and on my mobile phone too. It really has been so useful being able to start a draft in one place (or device) and continue it elsewhere. It's definitely the way e-mail should be!
Calendars are another story as right now if you want read & write access to your Google Calendar from other devices such as the iPhone you're stuck without resorting to a 3rd party application. I'm contemplating getting a copy of spanningsync which will sync iCal with Google Calendar allowing anything that can sync with iCal to work.1
And instant messaging is sorted too as all of my contacts are on Google Talk so chat logs are stored away nicely in Google Mail. What does annoy me slightly is that these chat logs are not exposed via IMAP/POP3 even though they are displayed almost exactly like e-mail messages. And of course since gTalk is based on jabber other gateways can connect in.
The Holy Grail:
What I am really after is something to allow me to send and receive SMS messages on something other than my phone. I know that in America it's quite common that your mobile provider will have an email2sms address for your account but those don't seem to exist here in the UK. And of course it's not what I am after. In my ideal world we'd have something along the lines of:
- a web-service from your mobile operator allowing you to send/receive messages on your account. Of course these need to come out of your bundled rate but otherwise would be charged at normal
- a way to 'push' received messages to a unified inbox. SMS messages can easily be represented as an e-mail message.
- an application on your mobile phone that would integrate with this to send/receive messages
This way I can easily start a conversation via SMS on my phone and be able to reply from my e-mail client or other device. My messages are also not held hostage and I'm free to move things around as I see fit.
Unfortunately I can't see anyone ever offering anything like this. Mobile networks love to close things off and probably don't see the reason to invest in features such as this. Of course how many people would actually make use of something like this when you can get an account with SMS providers and send messages out there.
We've already seen Apple not include a native MMS client on their iPhones, thus 'encouraging' users to send pictures via e-mail. And while that's fine (I can't even remember the last time I received an MMS) SMS just won't be going away for a very long time. It's extremely easy to use, requires almost no setup and reaches the recipient almost immediately.
And then might as well throw voicemail and faxes into the mix as well. When I was with Vodafone UK they had a service whereby faxes and voicemail messages were delivered to an IMAP-accessible mail account that they offered. In that way you would at least be able to poll, grab and then delete.
|calendar||yes||google apps with spanningsync|
This means that I'd be able to view and edit my calendar on iCal, the Nokia 6120 classic and the iPod Touch ↩