Microsoft MyPhone preview

April 29th, 2009

Here’s my preview of Microsoft’s new My Phone service. While My Phone is  in private beta right now, its infrastructure is currently being scaled out for a wider availability public beta and eventual release version. No firm date on when this will be other than ‘the next couple of months’

schedule

So just what is My Phone? It’s a service that allows you to upload your contacts, calendar entries, tasks, text messages, photos, videos, music and documents onto Microsoft’s servers. From there you can log into a encrypted website (everything is SSL’d, not just the login)  to edit, view and  delete them. You get 200MB of online space – this amount may change between now and launch.

While it is currently only available for Windows Mobile 6.0 and up devices the plan is to eventually make this service multi-platform so that you can use on non Windows Mobile feature phones. So it won’t just be a tool to migrate to WinMo.

The service will be free to all though carriers may try adding their own services and charging a premium for their branded service.

Eventually this service will feature Windows Live integration.

If you’re currently using Exchange My Phone will know to leave your contacts, calendars, tasks alone.

When synchronizing My Phone will look for WiFi and tethered Activesync connections before trying your cellular connection. That said, you can’t  currently tell My Phone which explicit order you want to try your connections or, if there are certain connections you don’t want it to use.

So how is it? To start you have to install the client on your WinMo device and sign up online at the My Phone website.

myphone

Once you’ve installed it you launch it and choose what type of information you want synchronized. I choose everything except video and music.

Next you choose when you want to synchronize. You can specify a time of day or a day of the week. You can also do it manually. What My Phone doesn’t do is automatically synchronize when there are changes. So, if you’re using the web interface to manage you address book you need to hit synchronize on your phone manually.

Right now there is ability to filter your information by folder location. For example, let’s say my WinMo device saves pictures and videos from my camera to a specific folder. There currently no way to tell My Phone to only synchronize pictures and videos from those folders. Another example is when I choose to synchronize my documents; My Phone uploaded all my browser cookies to the website. So, it’s an all or nothing sort of approach. I’m told MS is evaluating whether to add this functionality.

photos

While easy to use the web interface lacks some polish. Again, since My Phone is in beta these problems could be fixed between now and when the service launches officially. When browsing contacts you can only see 15 at a time. There is a search feature but being able to see more contacts at a time would be nice.

I found the web interface to be a little inefficient on space. On my Eee PC which has a resolution of 1024×600 the interface wouldn’t fit without requiring a horizontal scroll bar.

The calendar has a monthly, daily and list view. The calendar, tasks, text messages features all have a find duplicates feature.

The pictures feature has really small thumbnails and lacks the ability to sort photos by when they were taken. Currently you can download the photos to your computer. Eventually you’ll be able to upload the photos to social networking sites. There is a slideshow feature.

For now the amount of space you get is 200MB. While nothing to sneeze at 200MB can be filled quite easily if you have a phone with a 5mp camera and take lots of photos and video. The lack of filters when uploading exacerbates this situation.

The music and video features aren’t very useful right now since there is only 200MB of space available plus there are no filtering functions when choosing what to upload.

You can sync documents on your phone. When I choose this option it uploaded the one word document I had on my device along with a bunch of browser cookies.

I’ve said it a few times already but My Phone is beta so I wouldn’t take these problems that seriously till they roll the service out. And remember, My Phone is free and the plan is to keep it that way, that’s a price everyone can agree on.

04.29.2009
Howard Chui

Entry Filed under: Phones

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