Review: MyPhone service (beta) for Windows Mobile
Originally i planned to publish my review of the “MyPhone” Beta from Microsoft much earlier. But i encountered a few issues with it, and decided to review some other windows mobile apps first. Namely “Facebook” and “PockeTwit”. But finally it’s “MyPhones” turn now, so let’s see how good the beta is.
Nowadays having backups of your data on local storage systems is just one possibility, the other one being online backup services. Even though most people still use the local storage way to backup important data, the one word which has been hyped all over this year in the mobile scene was the “cloud”, or “cloud computing”. Apple has the “Mobile Me” service, and the Palm Pre introduced the highly praised “synergy” feature, where data from different online services is being fetched. While the backup service microsoft provides is just a little fragment of the whole “cloud computing” picture, the concept is still the same. You don’t store your data locally anymore, and that enables you to access, backup and restore your personal data from anywhere on the world where you can find an internet connection.
Another main reason for this kind of service is to be able to download all the data to a new phone. Any smartphone user knows this use case: Over the course of a phones lifecycle you store a lot of new contacts, messages, tasks, notes and calendar entries on your phone. In the past it was a real pain to migrate this data to your new phone. Of course you could always sync to outlook, but there are many people out there who don’t use outlook. So the “MyPhone” service could potentially be the perfect way to backup and restore all your data at any time.
I’m going to start off with reviewing the Windows Mobile app, and afterwards i’m going to take a look at the MyPhone webpage, where you can access your stored data. First of all you need to have a windows live account, in order to use the MyPhone service. After installing and starting up the Windows Mobile app on your phone you will be promted to setup your account by providing your windows live username and password. Then you have to configurate the sync options, like defining which items should be synced or how often the sync should take place. It’s even possible to backup all kinds of media from a storage card, but actually i don’t really see that happening. Because MyPhone will only provide 200MB of storage, that will be enough for only very basic PIM data, and i can’t imagine anybody using this for their media backups. Even the smallest storage cards nowadays have at least 1gb.
It is possible to start syncing manually or to set up specific intervals in which the sync will take place automatically.
So after you completed the setup, it’s time for the first sync. You will see a progress bar, which shows what items are currently being synced.
I used MyPhone on my XDA Orbit 2 on WLAN, and the syncing wasn’t really fast. It took about 5 minutes to finish all my messages and about 100 contacts. I think this is way too long, but the real problem was that MyPhone had trouble syncing all my contacts. It would always stop at the 60th contact, and didn’t proceed any further. The only way to end the syncing was the stop it manually. I found out that the problem lies within the contact pictures. If you have contact pictures which have been cropped, and don’t have the expected size for regurlar Windows Mobile contacts, chances are that MyPhone won’t be able to sync them. So i deleted all my contact pics, to check if it will work without them. And while the sync actually did progress further, it stopped again at 60%. I have read many threads about this issue on the microsoft help forum, so syncing contacts seems to be a general problem on the beta.
The general options will give you the opportunity to change the linked windows live account, or to delete the MyPhone partnership.
The MyPhone Windows Mobile app is very straightforward, and easy to use. It’s basically something like active sync, where you can setup and start syncing, and that’s all. There is no way to check the backupped data using this app, you have to browse to the MyPhone webpage for this.
So let’s take a look at the MyPhone page now. After logging in, the startscreen will provide an overview with informations about the last sync, the storage usage and a side navigation bar to access single items like contacts and calendar.
Using the navigation on the left side you can open the subpages for contacts, calendar, tasks, messages, documents, images, music and video. I like especially the “delete duplicates” feature on the calendar page, which will give you the options to atuomatically search for duplicates and delete them. The page will show you a list of found duplicates first, and you can decide which of then should be deleted. That can be pretty handy, if you ever run into some calendar sync issues, which can sadly happen often when working with active sync and outlook.
Each subpage will show you a list of the synced items, and you can change, update or delete them.
Clicking on an item will give you a detail preview window on the right side of the screen. You can access the complete details too, by choosing “show details” on this window.
Overall the new microsoft MyPhone service is a good idea, and i think many people will be using it to store their basic PIM data. But there are a few issues right now, which need to be fixed. The biggest problem being the contact sync bugs, as long as MyPhone is not able to perfectly sync the items which the user has on his mobile device, this service won’t be interesting enough. I don’t see the reason why my mobile device is syncing perfectly with outlook using active sync, but has problems syncing my contacts with “MyPhone”. Both applications are developed by Microsoft, and they should be able to give us at least the same quality when working with Windos Mobile devices. Furthermore 200MB is really to little space nowadays, Microsoft should think about expanding the provided storage when this service is being released. Otherwise it just doesn’t make sense to give the options for media file backups at all, because those files will easily exceed the 200MB provided by MyPhone.
Since i wasn’t able to ever fully sync my data, i can’t give the app more than 3 stars right now. But if the problems are fixed, it is potentially a 4/5 rating. You can try it out on the MyPhone beta webpage.