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November 13, 2008

S60 MeF Vs. G1 Google Apps

by Matthew

In our society of instant gratification nothing can come fast enough, email certainly is no exception. Not that long ago I ran down email on the S60 platform from Mail for Exchange, Nokia Email and built-in client. Now we're looking at MeF Vs. Google's Apps. I felt it was only fair that if Exchange was setup as its own domain, so too should Google: hence Google Apps.


Those unfamiliar with Google Apps, it is Google's free or premium service for Gmail, Documents, Calendar, Sites and iGoogle for a domain of your choosing. For this test both domains were set to the same DNS (Dynamic Name Servers) with the appropriate MX and CName changes for several days to ensure 100% propagation around the Internet.


I sent email from Gmail, my work address, a regular pop3 on the same server (using a third domain) hosting DNS for both domains. For the record both domains were .com TLDs (Top Level Domain) and neither was setup using a sub-domain (i.e. something.somewhere.com) for this test.

Gmail and Gmail on Google Apps are push services when setup on the G1. MfE on the other if not used in a persistent state is not a push email solution. MfE has a slight advantage here in that it can be set for interval checking for changes, good if you're trying to conserver battery power. The G1's service is either automatic or manual in its syncing methods.

Through all methods of sending email the messages would arrive within moments of each other, meaning the time frame was so small it is nearly impossible to time. The email was stored on the server and the handset as was the state of the message and if you read the message online the handset will reflect that and vice versa in both instances. For email delivery and status it's clearly a tie.

Google takes it a step further and gives users the ability to assign Labels (remember Gmail uses Labels (tags) to emails from the handset, the one limitation is the Labels must already exist. Going even further Android allows Labels to be synchronized to the handset at three levels: Sync All, Sync Recent or not at all. Emails can allow be marked as Spam or Spam moved back to the Inbox.

Winner: G1


Both services offer near instant contact syncing over the air (OTA). Changes made on either the handset or online (Gmail or OWA) were quickly seen in the opposing location. Where Google sets itself apart from Exchange is the ability to sync groups. On the G1 contacts are visible by groups. In fact Android has the option to select which groups to sync or not to sync. I have a number of contacts I may want to keep in my address book but not necessarily on my handset. With Exchange you are forced to create sub-contact folders which become invisible to the handset. With Google I can select or deselect any group at anytime, right from the handset. Additionally once a Gmail account is paired with a handset Google creates a group within contacts called Starred in Android, think of it as favorites list for contacts or starred items in GReader.

Exchange does offer one additional option for contacts, the global address book. The global address book from the handset I found more cumbersome and less useful because it is not stored locally, cached or synced, in the handset. Instead the Global Address book is stored solely online and is only search-able, not browse-able. Google Apps doesn't offer such a tool in any fashion. For Google App users of 200 users or less the best you can hopeful is its automatic addition of all users within the domain to your own address book. Google Apps users with 200+ or 200+ requested email addresses will only see this feature if you email or someone else within the domain.

Winner: G1


Once again both services are equal in their basic functions, as both do sync calendar entries back and forth as designed however like Contacts Google goes above and beyond with multiple calendars. Saying that Google allows multiple calendars is selling it short. Not only can you have multiple calendar, you can have multiple calendars from multiple sources. On my G1 I have my own calendars, separated by categories (birthdays, kids, etc.) along with my wife's Google calendar plus a public calendar. Google offers a number of public calendars created and shared by users the world over. Like Contacts these calendars are sync-able to the handset or not and can be added or removed from the handset at will. Neither Exchange or Google allows for invitation from the handset however, Google does allow you to select which calendar to add the event; meaning it would be possible to have events show up on a pre-established shared calendar, accomplishing the same task.

Winner: G1

Through this entire test I continue to be impressed with the G1's ability to match and exceed many of the things I have been living with on S60. I'm beginning to see issues I've been living with on S60 that I didn't realize I was living with and took as the way things had to be or were. Watching the Android Market (Apps Store) and the flurry of applications being made available, most of them free, I worry for Nokia and other handset offerings. In the two weeks I have had the G1 I only HAD to reboot the device twice and have it crash once. I have yet to see a memory full or other type of message. I did begin to see slowness once I reached 850 SMS/MMS. I truly have had few complaints about the unit thus far. I am still truly stunned that this is a first release device.

For those interested I wrote a brief summary detailing the differences between Google Apps and regular Google services on my new blog Techti.me



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Ms. Jen

Actually, Matthew, most of my mail comes down the pike faster than I want it to...

Email, Schemail...

Give me the *real* rundown... ;op

Do a side by side photo comparison between the Nokia N82 and the G1, then let's talk.


Of course it is only a benefit if you use Google for all your stuff (most people don't). S60 is far more flexible in where you can get stuff from or Sync it too.


Question for you. Why would you compare MfE to the GMail app instead of Nokia Email?


@MS Jen LOL I'll get right on that.

@Jay fair enough, more solutions will be coming. Already there are Exchange solutions starting to show up. You'd be surprised, as was I, the number of people using Google for email and calendar and of course its not going to be the solution for everyone, nothing is.

@John Nokia email is only that, email. There is no syncing of contacts or calendar making Google Apps more similar to exchange than Nokia email. I could certainly do a comparison of Nokia email if that's what you're looking for.


Hi Matthew,

You probably put a lot of effort in this post, but I have to say that I strongly disagree with not only the method and the conclusion, but also with the basis of your comparison.
By comparing an email tool made by the platform architect and OS developer (Google - G1) to a free 3rd-party application (Microsoft - Nokia MfE), you're heavily skewing the results in favour of the former.
A more accurate comparison would have been to compare the G1's email with a Windows Mobile device's Pocket Outlook.


Maybe it would be helpful for everyone to understand the purpose of Google Apps. From your description it doesn't sound like the average person would be able to set this up too easily. Nokia email is essentially a consumer version of Intellisync so maybe you could compare the corporate version of Intellisync to Google Apps.

In my scenario I use MfE for my work Email and Nokia Email for my personal addresses. Do you feel that Google Apps would serve me better in this aspect? Is Email separated by where it is coming from or all lumped together? Screen shots would be helpful.

When you work for a company that has 60,000 employees in the Global Address book, you don't want it stored locally, but I could certainly see your point if there were only 30 or 40 of us. I define who/what is in my contacts/calendar using Ovi.com or through my Outlook interface.

Hannes also has a good point. The limitations of MfE are caused by the inherent limitations of Microsoft Active Sync. However, I think that you still would name G1 the winner in the competition he suggested.

I look forward to the day when Nokia gets Nokia Email and Ovi.com integrated to handle everything for me.


@John Google Apps isn't difficult to setup, Google does provide instructions and links to business willing to help set it up should you desire such assistance.

Google apps is Gmail for your own domain. However you use Gmail now, is how Google apps will work and does work.

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