Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Missing Link: Data Sharing Among Wireless Devices

This blog entry has nothing to do with accessibility but rather data sharing between devices.

I'm constantly finding that many wireless devices do a poor job sharing bits of data in other ways than using Bluetooth or doing infrared beaming.

Sharing data is a topic that's rarely documented or discussed, and is often left up to consumers to spend some time experimenting on how to share data and information.

What's The missing link?
Being able to send items such as memos items, contact cards, files, and calendar events to other consumers who are not in the same room.

In a sense, yet, only a few devices such as the Treo Palms can do this now.  Items can also be sent by sending items from ones laptop.  However, in today's world, many of us don't want to use / carry our personal laptops everywhere we go.  Our wireless handhelds are supposed to be an extension of our laptops.

Currently it appears that Windows Mobile devices can't share info without subscribing to a complex Exchange service or shared Internet calendar.  For many consumers, including my spouse, these exchange services are usually expensive, complex, and a overkill of what is needed for occasional use.

Wouldn't it be great if Blackberrys,  Windows Mobile, Palm, SideKick, iPhone, and the Google Android devices could share information seamlessly without needing to be in the same room?

Let me point out a couple of typical scenarios:

Scenario #1
- I plan meet with a friend later in the day, and would like to give him my updated contact info without having to resort to my PC or having him to re-enter my details.  Solution: I email him my contact card from my handheld device.

- Scenario #2:
I have a new upcoming business trip planned, and need to inform my spouse to jot it down in her calendar.  Solution: Email my calendar event.

We should be able to do both of the above scenarios without having to resort to our desk/laptops, or Bluetooth / infrared beaming or the re-entering of information.

There are many other possibilities of what could be sent / shared between devices. 

Hope the wireless industry is listening for this need to share data easily.  If we can send emails, documents and photos, we should be able to send memo, calendar and contact items.

To help others be able to send items between lap/desktops and wireless devices now, a few tips are listed below

- Palm Treos can send contacts and calendar items to other Palm Treos directly.  By selecting the item: select menu, send item by email.  The receiving Palm Treo can just open the email and click on the attachments.

- Memos can be sent by opening to specific memo, select menu and select 'Send Memo'.

- Palm Treos can't send to Windows Mobile devices directly. 

However, there are a couple of work arounds.

1) Send to the recipients email box and have them open the attachment with MS Outlook on their computer and synch with their device. 

2) Alternative, is to use their Windows Mobile Treo to open the emailed attachment in their main email box.  Note that it seems this can't be done thru MS Hotmail, but will work for other providers such as Comcast email.  You will have to experiment by trial and error to see what does/does not work.

- Oddly enough, Windows Mobile 6.1 doesn't seem to be able support the ability to send calendar, memo or contact items. You can send items from desk/laptops to other desk/laptops and Windows mobile devices by selecting the record and send to the recipient email/device.  Again, trial and error is needed. Again, the whole point of this article is to encourage wireless providers and makers to offer easy ways of data exchange between devices for consumers.

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