Can the iPhone be productive without a Web connection?
June 18, 2009 4:53 AM   Subscribe

I am thinking of switching to the iPhone cult (long-time Nokia user) but I am very concerned about whether the iPhones/iTunes combo can support my day-to-day workflow, which is mostly Outlook-based.

My company uses GMail/GApps, but I prefer to use them via Outlook 2007 on Windows. From Googling, I see that contacts and calendar can be sync'ed via iTunes, but all the solutions I've found around Tasks (which I use heavily) leave me puzzled: is there a solution that will let me sync Outlook tasks to the iPhone without the need for both the PC and the phone to be online (quite often in my case, esp. when I am travelling abroad)? Is there an iTunes plugin/hack that will let iTunes do that syncing? (commercial apps are not a problem).

And a related question: is there any hack/app that will let iTunes and the iPhone sync w/o USB and w/o a Web connection (i.e. Bluetooth or local WiFi)? Basically, I'd like a version of Nokia's PC Suite for the iPhone (which is very buggy, but works very well 80% of the time)
posted by costas to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
To answer your first question, the iPhone doesn't support syncing Outlook tasks as far as I am aware. I believe it can sync notes from Outlook, but you'd have to get a third-party application for a to-do list or task manager. (It's shocking that after two years the iPhone still does not have a built-in to-do list app. Baffling.)

There is also currently no way to sync the phone wirelessly over WiFi or Bluetooth. This is a feature I've wanted for a long time, but you unfortunately have to use USB to sync.
posted by joshrholloway at 6:28 AM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Is there a third-party app that will sync Outlook tasks to the phone over USB (i.e. w/o a web-site)? Remember-the-Milk, Toodledo and a couple of others I found need an online component (which besides costing money, is a weakness if you're traveling and don't want to pay exorbitant data roaming fees).
posted by costas at 6:47 AM on June 18, 2009

A couple of notes, Google Mail and Calendar can actually be sync'd "over the air" with the iPhone's built in iCal and Mail apps and don't require an iTunes or cable intermediary.

There is no built in Tasks app for the iPhone but if you install the Google Domain App you can access your tasks via the web interface (again if you're keeping your task list on Google Domains)
posted by bitdamaged at 7:14 AM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: There isn't any way to sync data over the USB cable other than what Apple officially supports through iTunes. Many iPhone developers sync with desktop apps over local WiFi using Bonjour, however.

I am seeing an an app on the App Store called Fliq Tasks that purports to sync Outlook tasks with your iPhone in that way. That might work for you. It's free, but requires the purchase of a $40 desktop app, The Missing Sync for iPhone. It might be a solution for syncing other Outlook/Exchange data from PC to iPhone without wires or a 'net connection. This is a product from Mark/Space, who makes great stuff that I have used in the past. I am out an iPhone until tomorrow and I don't use Outlook so I don't have any way to test this right now. However, a trial version is available. Maybe get one of your friends with an iPhone to test it for you.
posted by joshrholloway at 7:21 AM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Josh: the Missing Sync looks good (although it looks like I'll have to initiate a sync on the iPhone side instead of one happening transparently). Thanks.
posted by costas at 7:49 AM on June 18, 2009

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