Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More iPhone Adventures

My iPhone 4 is now fully integrated into my life. Despite AT&T, I love my new phone. The biggest adventure to date has been e-mail.

I have an e-mail address for my law practice: Initially I thought utilizing that address through my iPhone would be as simple as it had been with my Blackberry. I was wrong. I set up forwarding of messages to the phone. I got the messages, but I could not reply to any of them. Something about my iPhone not being able to log on to my server. I scoured the message boards on the internet and learned this is a known issue with the iPhone. The simplest way to work around it is to create a Google Mail account and then program your office e-mail to auto forward all of your incoming e-mails to that GMail address. In turn you then program the GMail account so that a cc of all your outgoing e-mail messages from you iPhone is sent to your office e-mail address. I also added a canned signature to my outgoing iPhone messages explaining the message was being sent from my iPhone and asking that the recipient respond to my regular address. That took care of sending and receiving office e-mails on the iPhone.

Now on to synching the iPhone with my office computer. First, a bit of background is in order. Our office runs Abacus Law as our office system. Previously I could connect my Blackberry via USB cable to my computer and synchronize the phone to Abacus via that Companion Link software (that acted as the intermediate platform for Abacus and my Blackberry).

One of the reasons I switched to the iPhone was "push" technology. I wanted synchronization to happen over the air, rather than by wiring up at the office. I have succeeded, but with a bit of effort.

First I had to reconfigure Abacus and Companion Link so that all of the contacts and calendar events in Abacus would synchronize with Microsoft Outlook on my PC (Step 1). Next I had to purchase and create a Apple Mobile Me account ($99 per year). Mobile Me is a cloud platform where you can host your contacts, calendar, to-do's, files, etc. - think of it as Apple's version of Outlook hosted by Apple out on the internet. I then set up Outlook on my PC to synchronize my Outlook contacts and calendar with my contacts and calendar folders in my Mobile Me account (Step 2). Finally, I set up my iPhone to synchronize its contacts and calendars with my Mobile Me account (Step 3).

Now, with the "push" feature enabled on my iPhone it automatically and in the background stays synched with Mobile Me. Mobile Me automatically and in the background stays synched with Outlook on my PC. And Outlook on my PC stays automatically and in the background synched with Abacus on my PC. A half a day to learn and set up, but now everything works brilliantly!

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