Meep Meep

January 21, 2009

MobileMe Alternatives

Filed under: iPhone — meepmeep @ 10:21 pm +0000

Update: Feb 2009: Google has released Google Sync for the iPhone.

These days, a number of people seem to be looking for MobileMe “alternatives” or “replacements”.  While I still think MobileMe is worth it for many people, I thought I’d summarize some of the websites that provide bits and pieces of “MobileMe-like” functionality.  While MobileMe provides an easy-to-use, “one-stop-shopping” site that bundles various useful features together, many of these features can be found in free, lower-cost, or reduced functionality forms, if you’re willing to do a little work and/or possibly go through some pain. (more…)

January 14, 2009

Selective Push Email for the iPhone

Filed under: iPhone — meepmeep @ 1:31 am +0000

Push email is a great idea: instead of wasting power, periodically checking for new email, new email is pushed out to the iPhone as soon as it is sent.  You get longer battery life, and you get faster notification of email.  However, if you get any significant amount of mail, one of the first problems that you may encounter is that the iPhone constantly beeps/buzzes.  You have new mail!  You have new mail!  You have new mail!

For example, much of my email is non-urgent mail: newsletters, mail from mailing lists and special interest groups, etc., etc..  I don’t need to be interrupted for these, but that’s what push email does: I get interrupted for each and every email that I receive.

Fortunately, there is a way to get push email only for selected email, although it does require an intermediate-level of computer expertise.  The basic idea is to have two email accounts: a main email account, which autoforwards select urgent/important email, and a push email account, to cause the iPhone to beep/buzz.  The one big requirement here is that the main email account must support server-side email filtering, and the filtering must also support email forwarding (more on both of these, later).  It works like this:

How a message is handled for selective push email

How a message is handled for selective push email

Let’s say that your Significant Other sends a message to your main email account.  This is the account that you will use for all of your email correspondence; you will read all of your email using this account, and you will send all of your messages from it, too.  Once received, the filter rules on your main email account will then look at the received message, and decide whether or not to autoforward a copy of the message to your push email account.  Messages that are not deemed urgent/important will simply sit in your main email account, waiting for you to read them, and you will not be interrupted by your iPhone.  Messages that are deemed urgent/important will still remain in your main email account, but the filter rules will also autoforward a copy to your push email account, which will cause your iPhone to beep/buzz.  Since the message is from your Significant Other, the server-side filter rules will autoforward it to your push email account, and your iPhone will beep/buzz.

Note that the push email account is only used to make the iPhone beep/buzz.  It’s not used for reading/sending email, and so you’d just periodically delete all mail in the push email account.  The only real downsides of this approach are that the unread messages here will show up in the iPhone’s “unread messages” count, and that you periodically have to delete the push account messages.

(more…)

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