Don't Wait for My Phone: Google Sync and Others Are Here Now
Microsoft's upcoming My Phone sync service could be a boon for businesses that use Windows Mobile and don't host their own exchange servers. The upcoming product will sync address books, calendars, and other data over-the-air with PCs, not requiring a direct connection between the two.
Microsoft hasn't announced full details about the My Phone launch and availability, but you don't have to wait for these features. Here are four over-the-air services that you can use right now to sync typical phone data, documents, photos, and more. You might not even need a smartphone.
Google has stolen some of the My Phone buzz with new iPhone and Windows Mobile clients for its free, beta service. S40, S60, BlackBerry, and Sync-ML phone support already launched, making Google Sync available to a wider audience than My Sync. Most of these devices sync your contacts and calendars with your Google account, although some only sync contacts. While short on the media-file frills of some of these other alternatives, the sync service reaches across Google group calendars, helping keep track of shared personal and business obligations. Other services are aimed at one calendar per user; I'd pick Google Sync for this business-critical feature.
Dashwire currently supports Windows Mobile 5 and 6 phones, with S60, Android, and BlackBerry coming. The sync service transfers most of your important data: contacts, text messages, photos, videos, and more. Compared to what we know of My Phone, Dashwire scores a few hits and a miss; it smartly integrates with social networking sites and presents your voicemail in a web browser, but it doesn't sync calendars. At least you can check out the cost-free service as long as you want before deciding if it makes sense for regular use.
Zyb goes further into the social networking realm. The free service works with a bunch of middle-range handsets over the Sync-ML protocol, especially for managing contacts. If those colleagues use the service, Zyb will push their own information updates directly to your phone. For example, a new number automatically appears in your phone. And Zyb is especially entrenched in social networking services, showing contacts' statuses before you make a call. Your calendar merges with the Zyb online calendar, but it won't sync two ways with Google Calendar or Outlook, so My Phone will likely beat it there.
Sugarsync keeps PC and Mac folders synced across multiple computers, but mobile clients reach those documents from anywhere. Clients for the iPhone, and Windows Mobile 5 and 6 support more devices than My Sync. While the paid service is great for pulling in Office documents from anywhere, it misses the My Sync address book and calendar features; it's aimed just at syncing files. But if you're already satisfied with the way you sync that data, SugarSync can retrieve important files from any device at any time.
Zack Stern is a freelance technology writer and editor based in San Francisco.