It’s finally here! The iPhone now has most of the functions of the BlackBerry – over-the-air push and sync of Exchange email, contacts, and calendars! Apple let the 2.0 OS out of the bag earlier today, and intrepid souls (and me) have taken the plunge and installed it.
Read on for my first impressions and instructions on getting it up and running.
By the way, the apps are great! Sega’s Super Monkey Ball is touchy, but I think I’ll get the hang of it. And my 4 year old loves Jirbo Match! Too bad the Red Sox weren’t playing or my test of MLB At Bat would have been much more exciting!
Up and Running With Exchange
Seriously, why are you still reading? Head over to The iPhone Exchange ActiveSync Guide for current/useful information!
Here’s the quick how-to for getting Exchange up and running on your iPhone. Note that this works on any iPhone with the version 2.0 software – the iPhone 3G comes with this out of the box, but original phones will need to be upgraded. Update: You do not need to buy the Enterprise Data plan from AT&T in order for this to function – it will work with any plan, and even works on the iPod Touch! Update: The process is pretty much the same with iPhone OS 3.0!
We will set up the mail account first, then enable sync for Calendar and Contacts.
- Install iTunes 7.7 and upgrade your phone to iPhone OS 2.0 if necessary
- If you already have your Exchange server running with IMAP, disable the account in Mail Settings. I left mine set up – no telling when or if I’ll need to revert!
- Set up a new mail account, selecting Exchange as in the photo above.
- Enter your email address (e.g. “[email protected]”) in the Email box.
- Enter your Exchange domain and username (e.g. “msexec\billg.microsoft”) in the Username box and watch the text magically shrink to fit.
- Enter your password (e.g. “OuttaHere!”) in the Password box and marvel at the nifty new “show the last letter entered” feature.
- The iPhone will now try to automatically discover your Exchange server. If you don’t have Exchange 2007 with Autodiscovery turned on, it will fail and warn you that it couldn’t validate your account. You will have to manually enter your server name in the window. Make sure you enter your ActiveSync server name, not the OWA server (as in Entourage) or the real Exchange server (as in Outlook).
- Now tap the home button and go into Mail. You should see your new account appear, and it should show your folders and email messages within a few moments. Congratulations! Email is now set up!
Next we will enable sync for Contacts and Calendars.
Note: You can’t sync Contacts and Calendars from both Exchange and iTunes! You must choose one or the other! And the iPhone will delete your old entries when you enable this! Update: You can do both desktop and over-the-air calendars in iPhone OS 3.0!
Ok, enough shouting, on with the show!
- Once you’re sure email is working, go back into the Exchange Account Settings tab (shown above) and tap Contacts to “ON”.
- The iPhone will warn you about deleting your existing entries, just like I just did! If you’re sure, tap “Sync”.
- Now the iPhone will enable Sync. Do not go running up to the Calendar or (new!) Contacts App and expect to see everything there immediately. It took my phone about 5 minutes to populate these, and I was worried when I saw nothing there at first.
- Do the same for Calendar and you’re all set. Wait a few and you will have pretty much full over-the-air Email, Contacts, and Calendar integration!
Prepare to be confused by the new Calendar and Contacts apps. They now include categories, and you can find yourself scratching your head at seeing no entries when you’re in the wrong category. I left my calendar in “Home” and there were no entries.
I had to tap “Calendars” at the top to return to the screen at right and select “All”. This could be really nice – I could organize multiple calendars here for work and home. But it’ll take some getting used to. Update: Don’t bother with multiple calendars! Update: Multiple calendars rock in iPhone OS 3.0!
Note that calendar entries are color-coded in the calendar, too, which is a nice touch. I don’t remember any similar functionality on my BlackBerry, but it could be that I just never discovered it. It took me about five years to figure out how to see missed calls, after all!
The same problem appears with the Contacts application. Here again, we have groups of contacts, and what you see is dependent on which group you’re currently “in”. I’ll have to work out how to manage these using Outlook or Entourage.
Thankfully, Apple finally includes a Contacts application on the home screen in OS 2.0. It was always frustrating to have to go into the Phone app just to look at someone’s info!
The App Store is good, but a little perplexing. There are about 500 applications up for sale right now, and not all are worthwhile. There are three “flashlight” apps, for example, all at different prices. I think the App Store will be quite a mess once all 25,000 or so applications have been added! It’s already hard to locate anything.
Apple released just two native apps: A $5 Texas Hold’em game, and a free remote control app for iTunes. The latter is pretty nifty – it seems to use Bonjour in reverse to present itself to iTunes instances running on the network. The iPhone shows up in the sidebar and you have to enter a PIN to activate it. This would be much cooler with an AirTunes device – maybe I’ll have to snap up one of the old 802.11g AirPort Expresses currently offered at MacMall for $59!
There are some other worthwhile apps, too. MLB At Bat is great – live game updates and video clips of major plays. I think I’ll be using this a lot! Definitely worth $5 to me.
I already mentioned a couple of games, but I was more interested in trying out the social networking applications. AOL released a free version of Instant Messenger, but I’m not sure if it (yet) supports Apple’s always-on push service. There’s a FaceBook app, too, but it doesn’t look much better than the web version.
This brings me to a major concern about the App Store. Why make a native app to do something the web does just as well? I can see where an offline book or map reader would be handy, but why MySpace? There are lots of Bibles in there already, but where is the off-line/on-line version of Wikipedia that I had hoped for?
Google added a search app, covering both the web and local content on the phone. But where’s Google Talk? Shockingly, after literally sharing the stage with Google at the iPhone’s introduction, Yahoo! is entirely absent from the App Store. Microsoft isn’t there, either.
But there were some nice surprises. Yelp, Pandora, and Paypal all have free clients that look useful. Time will tell which of these apps really get used!