Say Hello to Ovi
Nokia's new media syncing tool shows promise
Ready for a rat’s nest de-tangler? Nokia’s Ovi.com service, set to debut in a few months, intends to reach into the myriad of digital files on your computer, sync them to an online portal, and make them available on your Nokia phone -– any time, from anywhere.
What I like about the concept is the simplicity: the Nokia N95 smartphone I’m testing and my Lenovo laptop live on separate islands, but Ovi.com will allow me to automatically sync files and access them from my phone. The alternative, which is a bit nightmarish, is to sync manually every time I connect my phone over Bluetooth or USB. And, for the past several years, that’s exactly what cell phone makers have expected me to do. It’s rife with problems: Bluetooth requires a passcode, USB cables from various phones are incompatible with each other, and I’m constantly running out of phone memory space.
The service will work with music files, documents, and photos. The music sync option is compelling: it means any MP3 track I rip to my computer will be accessible from my phone. Of course, that’s true now for photos if I use Flickr or one of a multitude of photo-hosting services. For documents, Ovi supports Microsoft Word file, PDF, and text files -– anything a Nokia phone can open.
There are two major caveats. One is that the service only works with Nokia phones, so if you use a BlackBerry, the Apple iPhone, or a Windows Mobile device, you are out of luck. Second, while the syncing apparently works without a lot of fuss, you do need to sync files to your phone to play them. So, while you have eternal access to all of your media and documents, you still need to connect up over a fast cellular or Wi-Fi connection (which the N95 supports) to use the media.
Still, I’m all for a service that at least tries to solve the digital crisis in my life -– the mess of files I have spread over several hard disks and a server in my home. From here, Ovi looks promising and innovative.