Monday, October 27, 2008
Funambol on the Android Market (and the G1)I spent some quality time last week with Carlo Codega, the developer in our community who built the Android client. He is in Italy and I have the G1, so it made sense for us to work together and build a version ready for the G1 (and the Android Market).
This morning, as soon as the Market opened, the Funambol client has been uploaded on the Android Market. If you have a G1, you can check it out right now. It allows to sync your address book with a SyncML server (such as the free my.funambol.com), which gives you over-the-air sync with Outlook or Thunderbird or any other client we support. Also, if you have a new G1, it allows you to migrate your existing contacts from your phone to the G1 (sync first with your old phone, then with the G1). Your old phone could be a dumb phone, but also an iPhone, BlackBerry or Windows Mobile. We support all of them.
I learned a lot from this process, as usual.
First, developing for Android is not as easy as one would like it to be. Intent and Activity are concepts that make sense, but it takes a moment to get used to them. Our original version had the Action for Settings which was a bit too generic: you clicked on Settings and all the apps that registered for the View action would pop up... When we made it application specific, everything worked. You could not tell it from the emulator, since there you have just one application (yours)... In general, I found the process of compiling and getting the apps on the phone - including debugging over the cable - quite easy. Good job there by Google.
Second, the Gmail sync is very transparent but it has bugs. Some contacts get duplicated in the process. Weird things happen around "Suggested Contacts", the people you replied to from Gmail. On Thursday, they were appearing on the phone as "hidden" (but screwing up our sync), then they became totally visible. I am sure many will complain. If you use Gmail, you might have hundreds of emails as suggested contacts. I replied to a mailing list of my neighborhood (where the people were put in CC) once, and I ended up with hundreds of neighbors email addresses on the G1. I love them but I do not want them on my phone ;-)
Third, posting on the Android Market was a breeze. Past the $25 I had to pay (does Google really need that money??), I had to fill up a form, upload the app and voila' it showed up on my phone. No questions asked. No Apple police to check it out. It felt, well, open.. And I like open ;-)
Lastly, the security environment for Android seems quite strong. I browsed around the file system, but everything was shut down. Every application is its own user (in the Unix sense) and has its own subdirectory to play with. No permissions to go around and screw up the system. I am still missing a file browser and a tool to send files out (you can't attach them to emails), but I am sure they will come shortly.
Overall, it has been a good experience. I have to say I am pleased with the OS, environment for developers and market. The hardware is a different story, but it is not tight to the OS. We'll see better ones (I hope, for Google!).
Few tips if you are planning to use the 0.1 Funambol Sync Client for Android:
1. there are some bugs left (that is why Carlo calls it 0.1 ;-) For example, it does not support foreign characters (your contact will be displayed with its phone number) and contacts with First Name but no Last Name will show up as ",FirstName". Use it at your own risk.
2. if you do not want Gmail automatic sync to screw things up, uncheck the automatic sync for contacts (Settings -> Data Synchronization -> Contacts).
Enjoy and let Carlo know how things are looking. He is busy preparing for an exam (Wednesday), so... better leave him alone for the next two days ;-)
Posted by Fabrizio at 13:59
Thanks for developing this - however, the G1 is not listed on the Funambol site when registering?!?! Worse yet, the site support people have no idea either - small oversight?
Comment Posted at 14:08
Nope, no oversight. The G1 client is at version 0.1, too early to be included in myFunambol. The site is the one where we try new things, but we like to put on things that are stable. The G1 client is a community product and not yet a Funambol product that we officially support.
That said, pick any other phone in myFunambol (any would do, the iPhone is a good one) and use the same user/password in the G1. It works (kind of, it is at 0.1 ;-)
Comment Posted at 16:05
Are there any plans to add synching for Outlooks tasks? That's a big hole in the G1 so far, and it would be great if this client could also pull down tasks. But thanks for what you've done so far--it works very well for contacts.
Comment Posted at 10:01
I do not think there is a task application in Android, right?
We would have to partner with someone that has one, or build one from scratch... Unless Google puts one in the OS.
Comment Posted at 10:12
Hallie Leighton said...
Hello, I am in G1 hell because Gmail does not import my contacts correctly from Entourage (either as CSV Windows or CSV DOS file)--it puts phone numbers in "other information" so that I cannot dial them. Haven't figured out how to fix the CSV file, and support/forums aren't helping. If I sync my Entourage contacts to my G1 using Funambol and then sync to Gmail, will that fix? And how do I sync the Treo, which now has no service (since I switched from Sprint to T-Mobile for the G1?) so I can get those contacts on the G1 (properly, I hope). The Treo contacts are hotsynced with Entourage.
Also, do you know how to delete all contacts from G1? That will be necessary. Thanks.
Comment Posted at 23:52
interesting combination :-) The Treo is not Windows Mobile, right?
Comment Posted at 09:15
Hallie Leighton said...
No, it's Treo Palm OS. (I originally had Palm Desktop, but when the desktop database file got corrupted too many times I had to switch to Entourage.)
By the way, the only reason I was originally interested in syncing the Treo with your service was a one-time thing to get my contacts onto the G1.
However, if I can't fix the G1/CSV problem, I am returning the phone and going back to Sprint/Palm Treo for now. (Although I still want to use Gmail.) Either way, I think I might need your service! If my combo allows.
I've checked the "email follow up comments" box this time so I will get your response faster. Thanks.
Comment Posted at 14:19
I thought about all the possible combinations and my conclusion is that I do not have a good answer :-(
Your best bet would be to import the CVS into Outlook, if you find a PC (or on a virtual Windows on your Mac). From there, there is a Google tool to sync to Gmail, which works very well.
Hard to find a PC if you do not own one... I know.
Comment Posted at 10:12
Cpt. Jack Sparrow said...
funambol sync client is not working on device. can anyone help me out regarding this. it installed on device. when i run a sync , it fails.
all credentials are fine, and i have tried via Edge and Wi-fi as well. no luck :(
Comment Posted at 01:48
check the Funambol Android page and mailing list at https://android-client.forge.funambol.org/.
Comment Posted at 17:18
is there a step by step guide to set up funambol? I downloaded the app but I don't know what to do next...
Comment Posted at 20:09
Since Android client is developed by Funambol Community, you need to configure it manually. I suggest you to setup an account on the beta service myFUNAMBOL. Go to http://my.funambol.com and register there. When asked about what phone model chose any model you want.
On the G1 you need to add the username and password you chose for the myFUNAMBOL portal. This should be enough for you to get started. If you need more assistance please go to https://help.forge.funambol.org/
Comment Posted at 02:14
Testing de plugin reveils:
-only mobile to server sync not bidirectional
-contactimages and bday are not sent to syncserver
-contact app crashes on android device after syncing
When will there be a new release in de market, it seems this version is very old.
Comment Posted at 04:26
a new version of Android is being developed by the community. You may want to follow the project https://android-client.forge.funambol.org/
I'm not aware of any plans to distribute a new version on the Market, but things change rapidly in mobile environments :)