How to make the new iPhone work at work

Apple's new SDK,3G handheld and iPhone 2.0 software should make it even easier to bring next-gen mobile to your enterprise. Here's what you need to know

Accessing calendars and other shared data

The biggest issue Exchange and Notes shops face today in business-enabling the iPhone is providing access to calendars, address books, and other PIM data beyond e-mail.

Come July, Apple's software update will add an Exchange client, giving you the same access to and update capabilities for e-mail, calendars, contacts (including the Global Address List), and notes as you get in Outlook or Entourage on the desktop. So, you'll be able to accept invitations to meetings, which you cannot do today.

Until the 2.0 software is released, calendars and contacts can be synchronized between Exchange and the iPhone, but this must be done through iTunes, meaning you will need a PC or Mac to act as an intermediary.

For Windows (XP or Vista) shops tapping Outlook 2003 or 2007, syncing today is straightforward through iTunes. Connect the iPhone to your intermediary PC and select it in iTunes' Devices list. Open the iTunes device Info pane and choose the calendars and contact sources you want to sync. If you have problems, consult Apple's common fixes.

On the Mac, today you can use the built-in iCal and Address Book software as the way station, and then configure Entourage to sync with them (use the Sync Services pane of the Preferences dialog box). In iCal, you must create and use a calendar called Entourage for any entries you want synced to Exchange. (And Exchange calendar items will be placed in iCal in the Entourage calendar as well.) Then, with your iPhone physically connected and selected in iTunes' Devices list, open the Info pane to choose the calendars and contact sources to be synced. All three programs -- Entourage, iCal, and iTunes -- must be set up properly for this menage a trois to work.

A tip for the 1.x software: In Entourage's preferences, choose whether to sync your server's calendar or your local calendar. If you change this setting, it's very likely that your calendar will stop syncing. It turns out the issue is in iCal: You'll see multiple Entourage calendars listed (one for each time you changed the setting in Entourage). Delete all but the "real" Entourage calendar (you can right-click on a calendar and choose Delete from the contextual menu).

Likewise, for Notes on the Mac, iTunes is the go-between as described for Exchange -- and you will need a separate app, such as Information Appliance Associates' PocketMac GoBetween, to make iCal and Address Book sync with Notes. Ironically, there doesn't appear to be a way to get calendar and address book data from Notes to the iPhone in Windows. If IBM follows up on its promise to ship a Notes client for iPhone, there'll be no need for a third-party app or other work-around.

You can, of course, access calendar and contact data today without connecting through the desktop by tapping Exchange or Notes Web access via the iPhone's Safari browser. Unfortunately, navigating those desktop-oriented pages even in the iPhone's fairly large screen makes this method a somewhat frustrating quick fix.

Another access issue to consider is that the Safari browser in the iPhone does not support Java or ActiveX, so Web pages that use these applet-delivery technologies won't run on the iPhone. ActiveX is a Microsoft technology available only on Windows, so the iPhone's lack of support mirrors the Mac's lack of support, but the lack of the cross-platform Java technology on the iPhone is less justifiable for Apple. (Note that it does support JavaScript.) But Sun is coming to the rescue there, promising to develop a Java virtual machine (JVM) for iPhone this US spring, with a release planned for US summer.

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Galen Gruman

InfoWorld
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