Having had near total vertical communications integration for 3 years, getting used to not having it is hard. There simply is NO realistic alternative to Exchange and that makes the need for me to break from it all the more necessary and difficult.
For the past three weeks I’ve been using Google Apps to run Email and Scheduling on TCG. I have to admit, Google’s Web App concept really lives up to the hype. For Email and Calendar I can use my Mac and be just as happy as I want to be.
The one truly colossal failing to that there is no good way to synchronize Apple’s Address Book with Gmail Contacts. In fact it’s almost impossible to sync Gmail contacts with ANY thing. There is a klugy way of hacking iTunes to allow an iPod to sync with Google Contacts, but that date is VERY minimal, and does not include contact photos. Google DOES provide an API for contact access, but despite a flurry of rumors, Google has not opened up Gmail Contacts to SyncML clients. There is a third party service called Goosync that is supposed to do this. But Google should not have to rely on hacked third party applications to do something that is a valid web standard.
I would have thought someone would have built a module into Apples Sync Services Framework or iSync.
But aside from the Mac’s inability to sync with Gmail Contacts, there is another issue, mobility. With Exchange, I have Outlook in the Palm of my hand via my Windows Mobile Phone. At his time I am unable to conveniently make Google Apps work with my phone. I have the mail application going out an checking my IMAP account every five minutes. But Calendar and Contact integration are not there. This is practically sad, because with Exchange, I could enter contact data on my desktop, and by the time I got out to my car, I could use Voice Command on my phone with my bluetooth headset to dial the number. My phone never even had to leave my pocket. Exchange and Activesync worked that quick.
Now Exchange was no bed of roses. The Outlook Web Access interface was unrefined to the point of being unusable. So if I did not have my desktop, laptop, or phone, I was out of luck. Exchange also necessitated me having a Windows Server, not entirely a bad thing, but costly.
Back to the mobile front, I’m hopping that Google’s release of Android will step up and provide total online and offline integration with Google Apps.
At the moment my HTC Dash is dyeing. I hope to limp it along for the next 30 days till we get a good look Android.