Saturday, February 07, 2009

I try NuevaSync on my secondary iPhone

I've been holding off on NuevaSync. I liked the idea, but I wanted to wait until they were out of beta. It didn't help my confidence that NuevaSync, maybe deliberately, has been keeping a minimalist (amateurish really) web presence. (BTW, "neuvasync" is a typo/phishing site, so type carefully.)

So I've been waiting for about five months, even as MobileMe festered and I've grown disenchanted with Apple's iPhone and Apple's iCal alike.

Now I'm relatively fond of Google, I'm about ready to try anything that's not Apple, and I've been receiving kind comments encouraging me to try the Google/NuevaSync alternative.

So I decided I'd try NuevaSync out on our pseudo-iTouch. If it works there, I'll look at wiping what's on my iPhone. (When you switch to a MobileMe or Exchange account on an iPhone existing data is purged.)

NuevaSync puts an Exchange Server front end on Google Contacts and Google Calendar (gCal).

The spartan details can be found off of NuevaSync - Over the Air Synchronization once you've setup a free beta account (this article has much more detail, though it's dated). When NuevaSync asks for your "Google ID" they mean your Gmail email address. You don't give NuevaSync your Google password, instead you're taken to a Google page where you can give NuevaSync special read/write privileges.

When setting up your phone pay attention to the settings, esp time zone (off) and SSL (on). During initial setup the domain is left blank, so you have to wait for the phone to time out and ask for a server name.

My initial configuration worked well for the Calendar; I'm seeing all of the Google Calendars that belong to the account I used. NuevaSync is recognized by the phone as Push provider, be sure you have data updates turned on. (Mine was off to save battery life).

Contacts didn't work as well. Nothing came through.

I checked the NuevaSync Status page and Sync status page and found this message:
Your Google account contains bad data, probably added by a third-party sync application. We recommend exporting and re-importing your Google contacts to clean up the data.
Right. Have I mentioned that Synchronization is Hell? Glad I am that I'm bloodied enough to try this first on the "iTouch".

Yeah, there could be "bad data", or there could simply be legal data attributes that NuevaSync isn't expecting, or character sets it doesn't like. "Exporting and re-importing" would be quite a bit easier for a data geek like me if, for example, there were a data exchange format that preserved carriage return/line spaces in text fields.

To be continued ...

Update: The NuevaSync team doesn't rest. When I emailed them about the Contacts problem they replied Saturday night:
... The data in this case is 'bad to the bone' in that it is blowing up inside Google's own client library...
In other words they can't work around the problem since Google's code is in control -- unless they can bypass use of the Google client code. They did suggest looking for odd characters in email addresses (semi-colons, etc). So I might try exporting the data and then looking for the badness that way.

Update 2/9/09: A bad day for Nuevasync. Damn, I feel for them.

Look for the Sync topic on Google's iPhone Devices page.

Google's approach to Contact Sync is to first sync via iTunes to Google, then turn on the Exchange features and wipe out the phone. You'd backup first of course. If you want Address Book on OS X to then reflect the phone/Google you'd need to sync it to Google (Spanning Sync, for example).

I'll try this on my iTouch/iPhone device.

Update 2/9/09: Google's exchange ActiveSync service worked, including the Address Book. I am genuinely sad for the NuevaSync team.

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