Mighty Phone: FusionOne's SyncML Service for Mobile Phones


I'm up waaaay too late and was doing a last browse of weblogs.com before I went to sleep and noticed this article about Apple licensing FusionOne's sync technology over at Hack the Planet.

FusionOne recently rolled out a new consumer product called MightyPhone, a wireless synch service for cell phones. MightyPhone's service FAQ contained the following blurb under a question about Mac support: "FusionOne is the technology partner to Apple in developing the iSync product available with Mac OS 10.2 platform. We are working together in delivering similar over-the-air synchronization services to Mac users. You will hear such announcements directly from Apple soon."

So two things there are very interesting. 1) It looks like Apple is going to add iSync capabilities to .Mac soon, so all you guys with T68i's can rejoice. And 2) MightyPhone is pretty cool.

First I need to point out the difference between SyncML and iSync before I say anything else. Someone Robert Nicholson corrected me via email on this a while ago - thanks because I was completely off base. Basically, they are not the same thing. SyncML is an XML standard which contains synching information and includes the iCal and vCard standards (with their non-XML formatting) contained within. iSync is a synching technology based on the IrDa standard (which is usually associated with infrared, but can also used be over Bluetooth, for example). They are completely different.

I've been following FusionOne for a while - mostly because of their cool logo. For them to come up with a cool mobile synching site is newsworthy because they're an established player, so this might be around for a while. Here's the blurb I got from the signup email:

Like the convenience of managing your phone data via the web?
By purchasing the full version of MightyPhone, you can continue to:
- Manage phone book, calendar and task entries on the web
- Sync your phone data remotely, over the air - no cable needed!
- Have your data securely backed up in your service account
- And more...

Business user or someone who already uses a PC organizer?
MightyPhone PRO is the right choice for you. With MightyPhone Pro, you can:
- Enjoy all features available in the standard MightyPhone service
- Synchronize your phone with desktop organizers, e.g. Outlook, Lotus Notes
- Get notified as your work calendar changes (or at a schedule you control)
- Use Windows interface to manage your data directly from your PC
- And more...

The online setup for my 7650 was quite easy, with no problems about the fact that I am in Spain. It sent me an SMS message with the auto-setup info so I didn't have to enter any data by hand into my phone. I forgot to install the SyncML software at first (it's not installed by default) so I had do it twice, but the site accounted for glitches, so it was easy. The site then gave me a nice screen with step by step instructions on how to sych. The only problem is that the auto-setup chose the wrong Access Point, so I had to edit that manually, but after that it synched perfectly over GPRS.

This Mighty Phone web-app is a super-basic web-based PIM. It's pretty wild to check it out after you sych and all your data is there (on some random website. What have I done?!? DOH!) There is actually a similar service at Weblicon that I tried before and never blogged about (though I did leave a message about it somewhere... I can't remember where. Urgh.) Anyways, Weblicon has got a neat (but slow) Java UI that you can download using WebStart and a nice web-based UI. A lot nicer than Mighty Phone's right now.

But I've never heard of Weblicon's company (Calmeno) so you have to wonder about what's going to happen with all your data and whether you can rely on the site. The fact that FusionOne is making deals with Apple makes me say "oooh". The fact that FusionOne's app - if you pay for the "Pro" version - also synchs with Outlook and Notes doesn't do much for me, but I'm sure there's someone who would be excited about that.

But both of these services are missing other functionality which is really important in my opinion. First - I'm not sure if SynchML can manage other items besides calendar, tasks and contacts, but it would be great if you could write text notes and see them online. Also, on the Series60 phones, there's a Photo Uploader option which posts your photos via HTTPS to a special photo server - the spec is open and on Nokia's site, so I'm not sure why they don't take full advantage of the phones and do photo albums and even blogs. Well, they're probably just going after "standard" SynchML tech and relatively low-hanging fruit. Anyways, they're neat services, regardless.

One last amusing item. If you want to buy MightyPhone Pro, you have to go through Handango's website. They are quickly becoming the defacto web-purchasing method for mobile technologies... Very interesting to know.


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