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I will say this only once

15/11/09

Life as a contractor is complicated. I maintain several diaries and have to be able to let the people at different clients set up meetings with me from within their organisations copies of Outlook. Avoiding clashes can be very difficult but the solution I’ve adopted is Google sync. I can sync all of the meetings to my Google account and that in turn syncs to my mobile phone.

That is generally a Blackberry, but recently I’ve been using a Motorola Dext. Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not the world’s greatest fan of Android. I generally think it hasn’t had enough time in the market to deliver all the hopes and expectations that will be put upon it by all the major handset manufacturers (bar one) and many of the carriers.
People who know me understand that I have strong views about Motorola and their software ability in particular.

It should have been a disaster, but the Dext is amazing. I much prefer it to the Pre I’ve been experimenting with and the iPhone. Indeed I’ve got so used to the widgets on the home screen of the DEXT that when I looked at the iPhone and the weather icon showed a hot sunny day as I trudged through London rain I thought there was something wrong. Of course iPhone icons are just that, they are not active.

But what really makes the Dext is the ease with which it became my phone. Mine as in it had all my diary appointments, contacts, email the lot.  It was just a case of entering my login details for my various accounts and my life was synced into the device.

At least with my synced life  I don’t have to enter appointments into two places.  

This is also hugely significant for the handset manufacturers. As phones have got smarter and more and more of your life was contained in the device it’s become harder to upgrade. Getting your data out of one phone and into another was a mess of desktop applications – all of which seem to think they need to run when you switch your computer on – and moving data from one place to another usually via Outlook while you lost some data on the way. This has led to phones becoming harder to migrate from and to. The allocation of which phone numbers are listed as home and work in my contacts list has become horribly scrambled, although I think one particular encounter with The Geek Squad is the prime candidate for that.

Google sync isn’t perfect. It’s not born out of phone understanding. You don’t get custom ring tones. Pictures come from the Google identity not the picture taken on a phone. Google gets into your life in much the way that people used to worry about Microsoft and it has become every bit as impossible to live life without it, yet the freedom it delivers from hardware is liberating. You can move from device to device and run several at the same time without having to remember which one has which phone numbers in it. With an eye to the line of my clothes I keep my iPhone, Blackberry and Dext in separate places. The upshot of this is that I can track which one gets an incoming mail first as they gently vibrate. It’s not the first time that technology has made me tingle all over.

It’s not just the Google sync that keeps me wired. It’s the whole of my work and social lives. Sitting on the front of the device is the overlap between the real and virtual me. Not something for Rene Artois, but for Rene Descartes. After all didn’t he say “I sync, therefore I am”.

Cat Keynes publishes her thoughts on the mobile phone industry every Sunday at www.catkeynes.com you can read the column the previous Friday by subscribing here.

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