I love my iPhone. It is an integral part of my decentralisation strategy allowing to me ‘work’ when I’m nowhere near my office or even laptop. In short it has changed the way I run my business and if you haven’t already got one and you’re serious about running passive income business you really should think about. Anyway that’s enough for now, I’m starting to sound like an Apple fan boy which I’m definitely not.
I’ve got most of my life wirelessly synchronised on the cloud – mail, contacts, calendar, my documents etc. I can pretty get to anything I need regardless of where I am or what device I’m on. One the areas were the iPhone is somewhat lacking is in its Safari browser. Don’t get me wrong, it works well enough as a stand-alone browser but it has no real connection between my desktop or laptop browsers, which is a pain.
Nuke My iPhone
I already use Google for my mail, calendar & contacts sync across all my devices so Apple’s MobileMe solution didn’t really appeal. I finally gave in and got a £60/year account when they released the ability to remotely locate, lock and wipe your iPhone if it’s lost or stolen. That’s the trouble when a single device contains so much of your data, losing it doesn’t bare thinking about! With this in place and of course PIN protection I feel pretty secure.
When I activated the MobileMe account on the iPhone I noticed that in addition to ‘find my phone’, mail, contacts & calendar it could also push bookmarks. This sounded like a nice bonus, getting my desktop bookmarks pushed onto my iPhone would be sweet. I know you can already sync your bookmarks via iTunes but I only ever plug my iPhone in via USB for software updates once every blue moon.
Unfortunately a quick glance at the windows client for MobileMe showed that for some reason MobileMe will only synchronise with Safari or Internet Explorer bookmarks and of course I use Firefox for everything!
If you’ve got iTunes installed on Windows the chances are you already have the MobileMe client installed and you’ll find it in your Control Panel folder. If not you can download it from here:
Full setup instructions for the MobileMe Control Panel are available on the Apple website but it is pretty intuitive stuff.
Once this is done you’ll have your IE favourites synchronising with the MobileMe cloud which in itself is pointless as I don’t use IE…
X Marks The Spot
I already keep the Firefox bookmarks on my 2 laptops & 1 PC in sync using a cloud service and plug-in called Xmarks. They also have a sync client for Internet Explorer which is slightly different to the Firefox version as it’s not a plug-in, it runs as a separate program in the taskbar. This is actually a distinct advantage because it means that you never have to open IE to have it synchronise the IE favourites. It all happens seamlessly in the background. Which is good, because I don’t like opening IE.
If you’re installing Xmarks for the first time you’ll need to sign-up for a free online account that will used to store all your bookmarks in the cloud. Install the Firefox plug-in first and then the IE application. When running the IE application setup use your exiting Xmarks username & password so that it pulls the bookmarks from the same account.
TIP: Whilst Xmarks is a free service they have to make money somehow and they do this by adding some additional features to your browsers called Discovery which is essentially smarter web search and annotated search engine results. This may or may not be your cup of tea but it’s not for me so was easily turned off in the settings menu in both the Firefox plug-in and IE taskbar app. Full credit to Xmarks for making it so easy to turn off.
Your Xmarks plug-in will be sending your Firefox bookmarks to the cloud which in turn will be downloaded into your IE favourites folder (without touching IE) by the Xmarks IE taskbar application.
MobileMe is of course monitoring your IE favourites folder for new bookmarks and when it spots one it will synchronise with your MobileMe cloud account which will then push the new bookmarks to you iPhone Safari browser.
I’m not exactly sure of the polling intervals of the various pieces of the jigsaw, but I can pretty much guarantee a new bookmark will appear in my iPhone browser within 10 minutes of me adding it to Firefox on my laptop and that’s perfectly good enough for me. Et voila!
TIP: I turn on Encrypt All in the advanced settings on both the Firefox and IE Xmarks apps.
Finally to complete the solution you will need to install & setup the MobileMe and Xmarks clients on all your various desktops and laptops to ensure wherever you add a bookmark it ends up on your phone browser too.
It’s a little bit clunky I’ll give you that but it works seamlessly none the less which is what matters in end. I had already subscribed to MobileMe and was an avid user of Xmarks so the addition of the IE client was no great shakes…