On Mobile Data Synchronization



This article by Sean Reifschneider at ONLamp got me to thinking: us pocket warriors need more utilities like UUCP and NNTP to be available from our mobile phone/mobile device.  It is fairly impractical to transfer the command line UNIX toolbox to mobile phones, but I think we need some more support for some of the various protocols out there.

I searched Handango for both UUCP and NNTP and came up with zero results for any of the mobile platforms (save for some NNTP readers for Palm and Windows CE).  Of course there might be some obscure open source project out there, but it’s sure as hell not in the channel.

While I’m at it, another thing that mobile phones could use is rsync.  Yes, of course we already have SyncML for most mobile phone platforms, but as Frank points out, it is not used widely, and even when it is, there are some issues that must be dealt with.

Rsync or a similar solution could really help me keep my sanity.  On a typical computing day, I might find myself needing similar or identical information/data/files on my home dekstop, my laptop, a work desktop, my 3650 or my 9290.  Currently one of the easiest ways to bridge my desktops and mobiles is via email.  Each phone has its own email address (useful for sending programs) and I also have a generic mobile email address that is shared between the phones.  I tend to use IMAP over POP everywhere, because that way the information is stored server-side and I can access it whenever needed.  I would probably use LDAP to sync my contacts, but I haven’t bothered to set up an LDAP server yet.

Several things could satisfy my need to sync files, data, information, and other stuff.  SyncML might do it, but most current SyncML implementations seem to be written to sync mobile data to a server and possibly retreive the data with a desktop.  I would ideally like to access a particular subset of my data from any of the many access methods I find myself using.  I have not looked in to it thoroughly, but rsync might just do the trick.  All I need now is a mobile client.  A lightweight approximation of Groove, iDisk, or iSync might do it, but alas, I am currently stuck in the world of OS9.x on the mac side.  It would be an extra bonus to reuse an existing technology or protocol, so that I could leverage existing software or frameworks.  I keep thinking that rsync would be ideal because there are already good clients for Linux, Windows, and Mac.  The only thing lacking right now seems to be on the mobile side.

I think I read on more than one list that 2004 is going to be a major year for device convergence and synchronization of data.  I’m ready for that to happen.