I’ve always had a feeling that Google has a soft spot for the BlackBerry (what with they having a Gmail client for Google Apps For Your Domain and all), but today I got further proof in the guise of Google Sync, a little Java application that will sync your BlackBerry calendar with Google’s service.
You can get it at http://m.google.com/sync, if you’re in a hurry and feel like skipping the rest of the article, in which I mostly muse about what this might mean.
It’s a little rough around the edges (as in: it’s not working for me, since it’s failing to sync right now), but it boggles the mind to think what they are doing.
When this works properly (and it shouldn’t take long), you can go out, grab a BlackBerry and use it with their calendar (which can, of course, be shared), their e-mail (which you can get either via the BB’s own client or their spiffy Java one) and, of course, their Maps, which now integrates with the device seamlessly and lets me jump from a contact to his/her address on a map without undue hassle (or find my location via cell ID or GPS).
And (here’s where RIM and Microsoft must be feeling a trifle uneasy) you can set up mobile e-mail and simple calendaring for a small company without an Exchange server or the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
The funny thing for me is that the more I think about it, the more I wonder about just how much Java code they’re writing and continuously fine-tuning for all this (especially since they went to the trouble of creating a helper application to manage updates).
As far as I can tell, despite they regularly churning out standard MIDP versions of their apps for other phones, there are actually more Google applications for the BlackBerry than for any other mobile device. And I don’t mean icons with shortcuts to the browser, I mean actual running code.
Which is, in my mind, doubly interesting when you consider that Android is, for all practical intents and purposes, a Java platform (you code in Java, even if the end result doesn’t run in a “normal” Java VM).
So yeah, they might just be using the BlackBerry (definitely the best Java-based platform out there right now) as a prototype/playground of sorts1.
Interesting things are afoot, indeed.
1 iPhone nuts are free to point out that Google also has been doing web front-ends for its browser, but let’s get real here: The BlackBerry is, at this point in time, a lot more useful and open than the iPhone. Still, times may soon change.