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Old Jan 27, 2013, 11:33 PM   #1
exi
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Mail / contacts / calendar / tasks: best all-in-one for picky users?

I'm looking for a one-stop shop for mail, contacts, calendaring, and tasks across multiple devices. But I'm picky.

What I'm doing now:

- Gmail via IMAP w/ IDLE on laptops and ActiveSync on iPhone for personal mail, but new device support via ActiveSync will be gone when I upgrade phones, so that's no good
- Google Contacts via built-in sync on OS X and CardDAV on the iPhone
- Google Calendar via web interface on laptops and ActiveSync on my phone for calendaring and tasks, but no real task support on phone without third party apps

What is ideal:

- Push support on iPhone and IDLE or Exchange available on laptop
- Updating of mail read counts on iPhone without mail being active, which iCloud does not do (basically requires ActiveSync as far as I can tell)
- Not spread across services (as in contacts/calendar on one service, mail on another)

All I'm coming up with is:

1. Paying for hosted Exchange for personal use and having to get my own domain name -- maybe overkill
2. Going with iCloud and not having read status sync in the "background" on the phone as ActiveSync accounts would

Simpler is better. Any Exchange suggestions or other service ideas?

Last edited by exi; Jan 27, 2013 at 11:40 PM.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 11:42 PM   #2
kjs862
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Between icloud and Dropbox I'm covered.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 11:42 AM   #3
exi
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Between icloud and Dropbox I'm covered.
Thank you -- thinking about going to that. Would just like the read status updating thing.

Any other thoughts?
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 11:53 AM   #4
BlendedFrog
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Thank you -- thinking about going to that. Would just like the read status updating thing.

Any other thoughts?
When it works correctly (has had some issues as of late) outlook and live email does EAS on iphone. Any outlook.com or live.com will work.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 12:02 PM   #5
exi
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When it works correctly (has had some issues as of late) outlook and live email does EAS on iphone. Any outlook.com or live.com will work.
Thought about that, but is outlook.com still POP only on the desktop?
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 12:05 PM   #6
BlendedFrog
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Thought about that, but is outlook.com still POP only on the desktop?
I believe it is imap when using either office 2011 or mail.app. I don't use a desktop app so I really am not sure. Between webmail, my ipad and iphone I am always covered on email.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 12:30 PM   #7
BrianBaughn
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I believe it is imap when using either office 2011 or mail.app. I don't use a desktop app so I really am not sure. Between webmail, my ipad and iphone I am always covered on email.
Outlook.com is Hotmail and is POP only for most clients...no IMAP. Windows Live Mail for Windows will connect to it via DeltaSync, giving a pseudo-exchange-like connection. The new version of Outlook for Windows will connect in that way (or is it ActiveSync?) also. Haven't heard about the Mac Outlook future situation. I doubt it will work.

I'm on Google Apps free but I sure that in the future I'll move to hosted Exchange. I just set a company up on Sherweb and it seems really good.
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Last edited by BrianBaughn; Jan 28, 2013 at 04:03 PM.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 12:32 PM   #8
exi
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Originally Posted by BlendedFrog View Post
I believe it is imap when using either office 2011 or mail.app. I don't use a desktop app so I really am not sure. Between webmail, my ipad and iphone I am always covered on email.
Looking online, it seems like they haven't allowed IMAP yet.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 01:23 PM   #9
BlendedFrog
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If you don't want to pay for hosted exchange (office 365) you could go the route of microsoft live domains (domains.live.com). With a custom domain you get 500 email accounts each with 5gb of space. Using this route does give you EAS and allows for exchange setup when using a desktop app. Might be an option.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 02:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Thank you -- thinking about going to that. Would just like the read status updating thing.

Any other thoughts?
Just a really simple clean setup. I know apple isn't going away anytime soon and I put my faith in the company.

Even with all the bad or has apple lately, at the end of the day, apple puts the so on my computer. I like that. If google had a solid desktop os I would go with them but they don't.

Apple is my home.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 02:36 PM   #11
BlendedFrog
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Just a really simple clean setup. I know apple isn't going away anytime soon and I put my faith in the company.

Even with all the bad or has apple lately, at the end of the day, apple puts the so on my computer. I like that. If google had a solid desktop os I would go with them but they don't.

Apple is my home.
That is great and all but how does that help when it comes to an all-in-one pim solution?
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 04:13 PM   #12
BrianBaughn
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If you don't want to pay for hosted exchange (office 365) you could go the route of microsoft live domains (domains.live.com). With a custom domain you get 500 email accounts each with 5gb of space. Using this route does give you EAS and allows for exchange setup when using a desktop app. Might be an option.
As far as I can tell the free Microsoft Live domains you're talking about are subject to the same limitations as Hotmail that I mentioned earlier.

It appears that only a paid solution will fit the bill these days. Office 365 is one of them, but in my experience (about eight months ago) iOS contact syncing was a duplication nightmare. I think Sherweb and 123Together are just about the cheapest things you'll find. No problems with iOS syncing on those. There are quirks to most hosted Exchange services in regards to Mac apps, as might be expected.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 04:24 PM   #13
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As far as I can tell the free Microsoft Live domains you're talking about are subject to the same limitations as Hotmail that I mentioned earlier.

It appears that only a paid solution will fit the bill these days. Office 365 is one of them, but in my experience (about eight months ago) iOS contact syncing was a duplication nightmare. I think Sherweb and 123Together are just about the cheapest things you'll find. No problems with iOS syncing on those. There are quirks to most hosted Exchange services in regards to Mac apps, as might be expected.
I use O365 for my small business and contact syncing is a breeze. In the very early days of it it had some issues but that was worked out a long time ago. But IMO you need to use what you find suits your needs.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 10:58 PM   #14
BrianBaughn
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I use O365 for my small business and contact syncing is a breeze. In the very early days of it it had some issues but that was worked out a long time ago. But IMO you need to use what you find suits your needs.
I should sign up for another trial and see.

How about shared calendars and Outlook 2011? Does it handle sharing "free/busy" information properly to Outlook 2011 users?
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 09:56 AM   #15
BlendedFrog
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I should sign up for another trial and see.

How about shared calendars and Outlook 2011? Does it handle sharing "free/busy" information properly to Outlook 2011 users?
That it does. Take a look at the plans&pricing: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/offic...are-plans.aspx

That should give you a good idea. My guess is that you really just need the basic hosted email plan.
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 03:40 PM   #16
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That it does. Take a look at the plans&pricing: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/offic...are-plans.aspx

That should give you a good idea. My guess is that you really just need the basic hosted email plan.
I've set up another Office 365 trial and see the exact problem that some other Exchange providers have...Outlook 2011 for Mac users not being able to access calendars info on calendars shared as "free/busy". This page mentions the problem and it's the exact response I got back from the folks at Sherweb.

Don't see any contacts issues as of one hour.
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 04:02 PM   #17
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I've set up another Office 365 trial and see the exact problem that some other Exchange providers have...Outlook 2011 for Mac users not being able to access calendars info on calendars shared as "free/busy". This page mentions the problem and it's the exact response I got back from the folks at Sherweb.

Don't see any contacts issues as of one hour.
Not sure if that is an outlook issue or more of an exchange issue. I'll have to set this up later tonight and see if I can duplicate it.
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 10:19 PM   #18
takeshi74
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Office 365 is one of them, but in my experience (about eight months ago) iOS contact syncing was a duplication nightmare.
I've had no problems with contact syncing with Office 365 either. Just as easy as the last two hosted Exchange services I used.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 09:56 PM   #19
exi
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I haven't made the jump to hosted Exchange yet, but what I HAVE done is import all of my contacts, calendars, and tasks/reminders into iCloud from Google to give that setup a field test since I was so used to GCal+Tasks being so quick to use.

So essentially, all I've got left with Google is my use of Reader for a bunch of RSS feeds and a couple of email addresses.
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 07:01 PM   #20
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Annnnd I'm not much of a fan of the flaky background handling of reminders as tasks on Mountain Lion / iOS.

Anyone have any suggestions other than me registering a domain and getting a hosted Exchange account?
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Old Feb 2, 2013, 08:16 AM   #21
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Annnnd I'm not much of a fan of the flaky background handling of reminders as tasks on Mountain Lion / iOS.

Anyone have any suggestions other than me registering a domain and getting a hosted Exchange account?
Exchange is the only alternate way that I know of to sync the Mac's Reminders app. You could go web-based with a separate account at Outlook.com just for Reminders.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 09:35 PM   #22
exi
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Exchange is the only alternate way that I know of to sync the Mac's Reminders app. You could go web-based with a separate account at Outlook.com just for Reminders.
Speaking of outlook.com, I'm at the point where the lack of background updating of read status and the blocking of icloud.com by my institution's network is making me think about migrating over.

Seems to me it's basically:

iCloud, though icloud.com is currently blocked by my institution:
+ Apple-made for Apple software
+ Full Contacts field compatibility (no email field label limitations, etc)
+ Push email on iPhone
+ IMAP IDLE on desktop
+ Clean web interface
- Does not update read status on iPhone in background
- File syncing under iWork limited to Apple formats without little tricks(?)
- Apple can theoretically access any info stored there as mentioned by Ars

Outlook.com, not yet blocked by my institution:
+ Accessible via EAS on iPhone
+ Being EAS, everything is push
+ SkyDrive integration is a nice perk
+ Clean, appealing interface
- No IMAP support (yet?)
- Contacts entries are subject to field limitations when synced to iOS

Google:
+ On calendar, events AND tasks appear side-by-side
+ CardDAV great for Contacts in iOS
+ IMAP IDLE on desktop
+/- Tasks cannot sync/map to Reminders on iOS, but much prefer their calendar integration over other services
- Discontinued EAS for new devices outside of WP, and WP later
- No push email on iOS without using already-set EAS,
- Older, less appealing (to me) web interface
- The whole privacy/ad thing

Hosted, third-party Exchange:
+ Fully EAS
+ Exchange access on desktop with OWA
+ Being Exchange, sync / access / push / etc. issues do not apply
- Contacts field limitations in iOS
- Must purchase and maintain own domain
- Small fee annually for Exchange account

Last edited by exi; Feb 5, 2013 at 09:49 PM.
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Old Feb 6, 2013, 10:24 AM   #23
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Really good comparison list.

I thinking Outlook.com won't add IMAP. They're using something called "DeltaSync" as well as EAS. The new Outlook 2013 for Windows has added EAS. The Windows 8 built-in Mail app can sync to Outlook.com. I'd be surprised if they add it to the next Mac version of Outlook. It seems to be their version of iCloud.
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Old Feb 8, 2013, 02:45 AM   #24
DarkJaye
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I'm in the same situation as you OP, mostly. I guess I'm one step further in that I've already registered my own domain and have been playing around with different solutions.

I really like that comparison list you've got, quite honestly I'd be happy with EAS if only the Contacts sync issue were solved. I guess this is a limitation of the ActiveSync protocol for syncing contacts in general?

I tried going all iCloud for a while but being that I use both PCs and Macs it's really not great using iCloud stuff on the PC.

Something I'd like to add: in a way, you can get push email on iOS without ActiveSync, you just need to be using Google's GMail app.
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Old Feb 9, 2013, 02:40 AM   #25
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Sorry for the double post, but thought I'd report back after trying out the 30 day trial of Google Apps for Business (in other words, the paid version of Google Apps).

So I've finished setting up everything and I gotta say this might be one of the better solutions, especially if you like using Gmail for email.

Using the Gmail app, not only do I get push email, but the app also updates it's badge in the background as messages are read, just like Exchange. So, for example, when I read all new messages on my computer after receiving notifications on my phone, when I go back to my phone the app has no badge.

Contacts with CardDAV also work great, all of the custom fields are maintained in sync across devices.

They also have a "Google Apps Sync" tool for Windows that integrates with Outlook 2007+ and creates a profile that syncs all data between Outlook and your Google Apps account. I don't often use Outlook but having the option is nice. In addition to that, they also continue to support ActiveSync for paid Google Apps users should you want what it provides.

In my opinion, the above points make it a pretty good equivalent to Hosted Exchange, at a lower price than I can find elsewhere for comparable features ($5/user or if you pay yearly $50/year/user).

Based on your comparison above, the only remaining minus would be that, well, Google is Google, and so there is the ad/privacy point of view. One thing I will say is that their paid Google Apps offering seems to be much more tight when it comes to privacy policy (which makes sense, since this is targetted at businesses) and they also give you the option to disable email ad serving and scanning.

If you're not adverse to paying for a domain and hosted exchange, then this service is worth giving a shot at least. I found it remarkably simple to set up as long as you aren't too scared of changing DNS settings, and the Setup walkthrough is pretty good.
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