Does android sync with ANY desktop programs?

This is a discussion on Does android sync with ANY desktop programs? within the Nexus One forums, part of the Google Phones category; Im new to android. In fact, I may go back to WM based on the answers I receive here. So I have been playing around ...

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Thread: Does android sync with ANY desktop programs?

  1. #1
    Junior Member cirrob's Avatar
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    Does android sync with ANY desktop programs?

    Im new to android. In fact, I may go back to WM based on the answers I receive here.

    So I have been playing around with the nexus one for a few days. Shelled out the 600 bones and am loving its speed and newness. Great browsers, great features (voice to text is really nice). The apps are abundant, but my gosh, most of them are useless and gimmicky. Seriously, a note to developers: You really do the OS a disservice with fart noise and lightsabre apps. How many are needed? Make a useful app for crying out loud. There is currently only a small handful of them right now.

    However, one thing I noticed was that the OS itself seems to be completely geared towards cloud computing. Not just for contacts and schedules (google's answer to outlook) but for everything. If I buy a fitness app and want a desktop counterpart, it seems I have to use the app creater's website to sync with over the air. Want to keep track of your finances? Use the banks website, or a service like Mint. However, there are issues with this.

    I don't want certain information on someone else server if it can be avoided; using a website to interact with the data on your phone is dependent on a lot of different variables to ensure a decent user experience; and most people dont want o wade through advertising.

    Does the OS have a built in, direct to PC sync mechanism and developers are just bypassing this to sell subscriptions to their websites? Or is this phone simply not built for that?

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  3. #2
    Junior Member Jocomp's Avatar
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    I understand there is a program called double twist that is designed to be like an iTunes for the android os. Haven't yet tried it myself so i can't comment on its function.

  4. #3
    Senior Member TonyHoyle's Avatar
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    Doubletwist does some syncing (I looked at it but it seems oriented towards music and I'm more inclined to sub to spotify these days) but Android is happiest if it's just left to its own devices to sync wirelessly.. I didn't even mount the drive on mine until today - it just wasn't needed.

  5. #4
    Member misticjeff's Avatar
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    i know you're looking for full featured syncing but this twitter post was interesting:

    @droiddev: OMG I'm in love with windows7 and songbird!!! seamless media sync with my android device!!!!

  6. #5
    Junior Member cirrob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphawave7 View Post
    WM, by design imho, was/is designed to be an extension of your desktop experience. Android was/is developed as a mobile OS, and is designed as a simpler, more efficient (both hardware/software) workhorse. Android indeed has some limitations and restrictions that make it quite different than Win or 'Nix ( Android (operating system) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ), and is geared towards 'cloud' or server for heavy lifting. It's up to devs/services/companies to give you the experience you seek, and that can be at either a speedy or sloth-like pace. Likely, the bigger the company (how long have we been promised flash!), the longer the wait. :|

    That's unfortunate. I would really have liked to stick with the OS but I do need an extension of my desktop. Sure some services I wouldn't mind cloud computing on, but not all services. As I said before, some things I do not want to share with a third party; somethings I do not want to visit a website for; and just about everything needs to be synced with my desktop.

    Exchange/or direct sync doesn't matter, but I need to sync with outlook. Googles calendar and contacts are cute, but outlook is a powerhouse if you know how to use it. Besides I don't want to rely on a connection to manipulate my schedule on my desktop.

    A better example however, would be a program I have used on windows mobile: My life organized; a very powerful to-do list/project management tool. It requires heavy data entry so a desktop companion program exists. Obviously changes I make on one are reflected on the other (mobile or desktop). I would go mad trying to enter that amount of data simply using the phone. Granted they are planning on porting over to android, but it looks as though they will be forced to host an account driven website/service that will be powered by ad revenue or a subscription, instead of a desktop application. this is a no go since most of my "to do's" are confidential in nature, and even if they werent I wouldnt want to pay a subscription or view ads just to manipulate my data in bulk. I have seen similar apps in the marketplace but they are either simply not supporting a more data-entering friendly companion or if they are, it will be a hosted web service...again a no go.

    Another example would be a weight lifting app. Tracking a serious weight training regiment requires heavy (no pun intended) data entry, and a nice sized screen to analyze that data for trends and breakthroughs. Again, entering that amount of data or giving said data a serious review requires a desktop sized venue. While the data is benign, I wouldn't want to be forced to visit a website to analyze, review it, or manipulate it on a large scale.

    The problem with cloud computing is that you are reliant on a third party just to access and or manipulate your data. If they are a smaller company there is very little guarantee they will be there tomorrow (and some of these niche markets I mentioned above -fitness and project management- almost guarantees I would be dealing with a struggling developer). How often are their servers down? What if they change to a subscription model? Way to many variables to be reliant. Now I know google is not going anywhere and their servers are never down, so porting my PIM data to google isnt that big of a stretch (Although I would bemoan the loss of hosting my own exchange server and the sense of security that offers), but there should be alternatives to 100% cloud computing with such a great phone OS. WM may be long in the tooth, ugly, and slow... but at least it offers both cloud and direct to desktop syncing.

  7. #6
    Junior Member cirrob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphawave7 View Post
    But that is exactly what is changing, and why there's a jizz-fest for powerful handsets like the N1. There's enough computing power in the unit that simple data crunching (ala the weight-lifting app) can now be done mobile. I concur that Exchange/Outlook support has PLENTY of room for improvement wrt Andriod (peeps seem pleased with Touchdown); alas, these apps are really M$'s 'killer apps', so it's no surprise to me that this OS, in it's infancy, isn't an ideal solution, yet. Personally, I never wedded myself to Outlook, though I did try. After a few harddrive crashes over the years, I grew to appreciate 'cloud' computing, so much so that I ended up using Quickbooks Online for running my businesses, and can do EVERYTHING I want, at ANY computer, WHEREVER I happen to be...that's pretty powerful, too. Security is always a concern, and it's balance with efficiency and capability are always a personal comfort decision. Heck, I'm nervous every time I pull up the Bank of America app and check my balances/activity, and it's not because I'm broke! :rofl3:

    We're on the edge of breakthrough mobile computing with handsets like the N1, and units under development, and I think Android has truly invigorated devs, and accelerated this process, in a mostly open environment, and we have Google to thank for that. Now, is that edge a double-edge, cutting both ways? Time will tell.
    I think you missed my point.

  8. #7
    Junior Member cirrob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphawave7 View Post
    I think you missed my point.
    Possibly. I think you prefer local hosted apps you manually sync to, due to either process or security concerns. I prefer server hosted, and automagically synced. Is that incorrect?

    Sort of. I dont mind hosted and automatically synced for some items. In fact I would prefer it for those items (calendars and emails are a great example). However, for some items it is neither reliable or desired.

    Let me fall back to the fitness application example. Lets say I find an application that fits my needs very closely. It tracks all the right things, its easy to use, and its customizable; I can create new excersizes and routines. However I can only do this on the phone itself. While data entry on a mobile device has evolved greatly, it cannot compare to a desktop sized keyboard. Its clumsy and prone to typos in comparison (in comparison is the key phrase. Please no one chime in with their thumb typing prowess). So now I have this great application that I am forced to maniupulate strictly on the phone. Lets say the app has a great analytical compononent that allows me to evaluate my work outs and tweak them based on specific trends I notice due to the analytics. It still is sub par to evaluating that same data on the desktop. Making the fine tuned tweaks to the work out based on those analysis would be far easier on a desktop than the phone itself.

    So whats a developer to do? Given the current state of an android phone their only option is an over the air sync with THEIR servers and THEIR website. This may be fine on its serface, but who pays for THEIR servers? I do, either through ads I am visually asulted with, or through a subscription service which means I end up paying for the application several times over through time. Perhaps the developer can sell enough apps that the he doesnt charge or show ads for the online service, but is that likely? In either case, there are server outages, and my connection stability (while it is stable for the most part, it isnt as reliable as my personal computer is), and the developers longevity and interest in continuing to offer the service. True this threat exist in some form with a desktop companion program (the company could go out of business for example), but you would still have the program that serves your need.

    Now take that example to an even narrow niche... lets make something fictional like a an app that helps you find track, trade, and locate plastic grocery bags. Three people might find that app useful and love it. It does everything they want. However, the developer will never make enough money to support an over the air service. So they can have the app on the phone once they buy it, but they are limited to accessing that data on the phone only.

    Its a shortcoming in my opinion, and I think youll find more people share this desire for desktop syncing than you think.

  9. #8
    Junior Member skozsert's Avatar
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    Theres really no reason third party apps can't sync locally right now. The sd card can be mounted when the phone is connected via usb, it is fairly trivial for an app to open a data file located there. After all the problems I've had with activesync and palm desktop in the past, particularly with third party apps, I don't really see the need for a proprietary connection method. The mass storage device method is also os agnostic.

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