iPhone 2.0 Raises Device's Enterprise Profile

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2008-07-14 Print this article Print

=Over-the-Air Sync}

Apple has finally introduced over-the-air synchronization of e-Mail, Calendar and Contacts with its twin support for Exchange ActiveSync and the new Apple MobileMe synchronization and PIM (personal information manager) service. This will enable enterprises to avoid using iTunes for synchronization services, although administrators will find they still need the media player to upgrade the software again down the road or to deploy applications from a private store.  

When configuring Exchange ActiveSync on the iPhone, I just input my e-mail address, user name and password into the Mail configuration page to start, followed by the FQDN (fully qualified domain name) for my OWA (Outlook Web Access) server. The setup wizard then asked what data I wanted to sync.  

If a user elects to sync data from Contacts or Calendar, ActiveSync will overwrite the data that already exists in the iPhone's store. Enterprises deploying iPhones for work purposes will likely not care (as the iPhone would be an IT-deployed device), but users importing Exchange data on their own should back up any of this data on the device before finishing the ActiveSync install.

By default, ActiveSync-enabled e-mail is set to Push, with the e-mail server delivering mail as it arrives on the server. However, in my tests, I found that Push drastically shortened the battery life of my first-generation iPhone.

After a year of use, my iPhone battery lasts two to three days with normal use patterns. I expected a negligible amount of drain, but, after a single night set to Push, my iPhone battery drained more than 50 percent. In fact, after a couple days, I turned off the Push capability and settled for regular manual synchronizations. (Users also can set the iPhone to fetch data at 15-, 30- or 60-minute intervals.)

Despite my hasty retreat from Push capabilities, I found e-mail much more responsive via ActiveSync than via IMAP-particularly when deleting e-mails. iPhone 2.0 also makes batch deletes possible on all e-mail accounts, as users can select radio buttons next to messages targeted for deletion to remove them en masse.

I was pleased to see that ActiveSync tied the corporate Exchange directory to my Contacts database, without adding the whole shebang to my local store. When searching in the Contacts application (which now has its own icon on the iPhone main screen), I could press the Groups button to access my corporate directory when online. I could also find corporate contacts directly from the new contact search field or from the "To" field when sending an e-mail from my ActiveSync-enabled account.

The Calendar application remains largely the same, although users will find a new icon at the bottom of the screen that triggers an alert when there are pending invitations.

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at agarcia@eweek.com.

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