As I’ve described in two previous posts on my efforts to use Google rather than Groupwise for work e-mail and calendaring (1 & 2), as a connection point for my Android phone, I have run into a lot of interesting behaviors. I’ve had challenges and successes.
Right now, I have Groupwise set up to straight forward all incoming e-mail to Google. I set up a separate google account just for work, and use the web interface to work with my calendar, etc. I keep things separate from my personal Google account simply by running the work stuff in one browser and my personal stuff in another one. Different browser apps, different cookies, no conflicts.
Even this basic forwarding has had problems. I’m still not 100% confident that when an e-mail comes into Groupwise, it is forwarded right away to Google. Most of my uncertainty can be tied to a power outage about a week ago, which caused a whole lot of problems. But there was at least one other instance when I just stopped getting e-mail for a few hours. Then suddenly everything from a 1.5 hour period came at once. As a result, I set up an IMAP connection to my Groupwise account so that I can double check there. Kind of defeats the purpose.
As for Companionlink for synchronization, I am now dead set against it as a recommended solution because it is not an enterprise-level product. I knew that going in, of course, but if someone at the school were to ask what smartphone to get, I’d say “Blackberry” in a second (we have an Enterprise Server on campus). Also, it has some quirks. For instance, if I set up a repeating event in Google, only the first one shows up in Groupwise (this happened with another Groupwise calendar-only synchronization software package, too, so it might be a GW thing). Also, while invitations to meetings do show up in Google, I only get an option to add it to my calendar. Not to actually respond to it. I know I tested this before and I had “yes,” “no,” and “maybe” as options, which was nice (maybe allowed me to have it show up as declined but still visible on my calendar). I can’t figure out why it’s not working.
So I do a all of my meeting proposals in GW. I often accept meetings there, too.
In the end…it’s a tough call. I miss a lot of the functionality of the blackberry and might even go back to it as new versions come out. But right now the benefits of the Android phone (the HTC EVO 4G in this case, but it could be any one) outweigh things overall. Many of my core apps exist on the Blackberry OS, but are not nearly as easy to use. For instance, I can view an excel sheet on my large 4.3″ screen and actually see the important information without losing view of every other cell. Things scale well when I zoom in. I can’t do that on the smaller Blackberry screens.
I have instructed my staff to recommend Blackberry units without hesitation. We have the Android units only so that we can play with alternative smartphones. We already know how to set up a Blackberry account in about 10 minutes, but this is the first extensive testing with something else.