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Syncing the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1

There’s been a lot mentioned on the intertubes about the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1 since it was announced 2 days ago.

I’ve pre-ordered mine, and I’m looking forward to gnawing on it – tasty bits, nom, nom, nom :)

Why? Here’s what I’m excited about:
– First ever Android device
– First HSDPA/HSUPA smartphone on T-Mobile USA”s new AWS network
– Open source, linux-based OS/platform
– Full integration with Google mail, IM, contacts, calendar, and maps (including Street View)
– Android Market application store and Amazon MP3 music store (DRM free)
– Copy & paste, background processes
– Capacitive touchscreen and hardware keyboard
– WiFi, dual-band 3G, GPS, and compass
– 3 megapixel auto-focus camera

Here’s what appears to be missing:
– No Bluetooth DUN (tethering), ObEx (file transfer), and A2DP (stereo audio)
– No multi-touch functionality
– No standard 3.5 mm audio connector (adapter required)
– No video recording and camera flash
– No integration with Google reader and docs
– No UMA support
– Not so sexy design

But there’s one item several people are getting flustered about: syncing the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1

Frankly, I don’t understand what the problem is with the lack of Mac/PC sync software for Android!

Pinky: There’s no Mac/PC sync software for Android! There’s no iTunes/iSync, ActiveSync/WMDC/WMP support…
Pinky: Gee, Brain, what are we going to do?
Brain: The same thing we do with every non iPhone, BlackBerry, or Windows Mobile device, Pinky – use USB mass storage to transfer media between the Mac/PC and the phone’s memory card.
Pinky: But what about contacts/mail/calendars?
Brain: Well, we only have to sync contacts/mail/calendars between the Mac/PC and the Google account – the device handles the rest :)
Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?

According to the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1 manual (PDF), the device supports USB mass storage, so media sync can be as simple as drag-and-drop. Contact/mail/calendar sync is done transparently between the phone and your Google account. Nay desktop, yay cloud :)

Furthermore, there’s plenty of software available to sync media between iTunes and a USB mass storage device:
iTuneMyWalkman for OS X
SyncTunes for OS X
Media Sync for OS X/Windows
SyncMyPortable for Windows
Mass Storage Synchronizer for Java

If you really must use Windows Media Player (poor you), it natively syncs with USB mass storage devices.

Here’s how to sync contacts between a Mac/PC and Google mail:
– Using Address Book in OS X
– Using gcontactsync for ThunderBird in OS X/Windows
– Using gSyncit for Outlook in Windows

To sync mail there’s always IMAP.

And here’s how to sync calendars between a Mac/PC and Google calendar:

– Using iCal in OS X
– Using Provider for Google Calendar for ThunderBird+Lightning in OS X/Windows
– Using Google Calendar Sync for Outlook in Windows

So there you have it. Ultimately, it’s only a matter of time until someone adds iSync or ActiveSync support to Android…

10 thoughts on “Syncing the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1 Leave a comment

  1. I was at Google’s Chicago office a couple days ago and had the chance to play with one for about 20 minutes. I gotta admit I was impressed. Yes, there are a few shortcomings, but I think we need to distinguish between the shortcomings of the device and the shortcomings of the OS. Because according to the guy I spoke with, the OS is going to be on about 18 phones by the summer time.

    As to syncing, I think you’re dead on. A) So long as you can move your data through Google’s PIM apps, you’re golden. And if you can’t, you just need to be patient until people develop some apps that do.

    BTW, in photos it doesn’t look like a sexy design. But when you’re holding it, it certainly feels sexy. Actual usage is as sleek as an iPhone, the flip out keyboard has a great feel to it. The lack of glass and metal certainly makes it hard to stand out in photos and such, but once you’re holding it and using it, it feels sleek.

  2. Im quite new to this SMARTPHONE use. So, can sombody give me a fact about the posibility of T-mobile G1’s video calls and specially about the bluetooth file transferring capability?

  3. Great Info, Thanks!. Especially the gContactSync. Hadn’t heard of that before.
    Much appreciated. I am going to throw your link on some G1 forums. Cheers!

  4. For syncing Contacts and Calendar to the Mac, there’s also “Spanning Sync”. Downside: it costs money. Upside: it’s orders of magnitude more featureful than gContactsSync.

    I did download gContactSync, so that I can sync Thunderbird contacts with Google… but, I’m kind of disappointed. It’s not really “syncing” them. It’s merely making them available inside Thunderbird as a separate contacts list. There is _some_ value to that, but it’s not merging them into one contacts list, with a straight forward tool to use for resolving conflicts (that’s what Spanning Sync does).

    And, if I drag a contact from my Thunderbird Personal Address book list into the Google Contacts list, it doesn’t try to merge it with a Google contact, it ends up with 2 contacts that have the same name/etc. Which would be a problem when it syncs next, because Google doesn’t let you duplicate certain fields (I think the rule is that you can’t have two contacts with the same email address). It also doesn’t do what the Mac address book allows: if you select multiple records, you can’t say “merge these records into one”.

    The other annoying thing about gContactsSync: Google doesn’t give you “first name” and “last name”, it give you what Tbird calls “Display Name”. But, if you set the “first name” and “last name” field of the record, does it remember that information after the next sync? No, it destroys that information. I understand that it can’t/wont upload the information to Google, but I don’t think it’s reasonable that it refuses to remember the information.

    (the last annoyance is on the part of Tbird: you can’t tell Tbird to “sort by Display Name” — you can tell it to show you the display name instead of “first name, last name” or “last name, first name” … but you can’t tell it to sort by “Display Name” specifically, telling it to sort by name causes it to try to use the first name and/or last name, and if those are all blank then the sorting is sort of nonsensical)

    I want a plugin that will, with some degree of automation (only asking me to resolve conflicts, and asking me for permission about which records to delete), merge my Tbird personal address book with Google’s contacts list. And, when Tbird adds its auto-capture contacts, I want it to also add those to Google contacts. 1 contact list stored in multiple locations (Google, work Thunderbird, home Thunderbird, my G1).

    What gContactSync does is give me access to 3 separate contact lists (Personal, auto-generated, and Google). If I want to merge the data, I’m still going to have to do it by hand… which I could have done without gContactsSync at all. And, because it doesn’t work with the auto-generated/auto-captured contacts, it’s not just something I’ll have to do one time — every so often I’ll have to update Tbird’s auto-generated ones into Google.

    In summary, gContactsSync offers some value, but it falls really far short in comparison to other syncing tools.

  5. Steve, 18 Android phones by summer 2009 would be amazing! Did the Google guy mention from what brands will they come? Definitely HTC gonna supply helf of them with their devices, but I know there are more HW manufacturers in the game.

  6. This is an old post, but just letting you know, you should remove that link to SyncTunes – the author removed it from the internet for a reason. There’s a catastrophic bug where it deletes everything on your hard drive – not the phone memory, on the Mac. Horrific.

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