Migrating SMS messages from iOS to Android

The iPhone 3GS that I use for work is now getting a little long in the tooth, no longer eligible for updates (read security risk) and the battery often runs out before the end of the day.  I still have a 4S that I use (with iOS 7) in my personal life but the company iPhone was replaced today with an Android handset (Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini).  This is my first Android phone – and will be an interesting experience because I want to see how this Google platform gets on with Microsoft Exchange (my previous experience with ActiveSync has been with iOS and Windows Phone 7).

Initial impressions are mixed and it may take me some time to get used to Android (or maybe it’s the O2/Samsung customisations) but I do have one observation: Google Play seems much faster than iTunes for app downloads…

The first apps installed on my phone were iSMS2droid, Dropbox and Spotify. Two of those apps seem pretty obvious, but “what’s iSMS2droid?”, you might ask.  It’s a handy app for importing SMS messages extracted from an iPhone backup to Android format.

The mechanics of transferring SMS messages from iPhone to Android are described in a hongkiat.com blog post but, in short, the steps are:

  1. Backup the iPhone in iTunes
  2. Locate the backup file in %appdata%/Apple Computer/Mobile Sync/Backup/ on Windows or ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ on a Mac
  3. Open the folder with the most recent timestamp (one per synced device, I think)
  4. Search for the file called 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28 and copy it to your Android phone (I did this via Dropbox)
  5. Open iSMS2droid and tap “Select iPhone SMS Database”, then point the app at the file you transferred from the iPhone backup. This will allow the message database to be converted and will save a file called iSMS2droid.xml (on my phone, it was in /storage/sdcard0/SMSBackupRestore).
  6. At this stage you’ll need another app, called SMS Backup & Restore, which can read the iSMS2droid.xml file (on my phone, it was in /storage/sdcard0/SMSBackupRestore) and import the messages.  All but one of my SMS messages were then restored and availble in the Android app.

Unfortunately, I did have a couple of issues to resolve along the way.

With SMS messages transferred, next step is contacts.  I can see these in Outlook, so pretty sure ActiveSync is handling them for me… let’s see what happens when I connect the ‘droid to the company servers…

Running Android on a netbook

I’ve been thinking for a while it might be an interesting experiment to get Android running on my netbook. Amazingly, it was incredibly simple, thanks to a bit of ‘net research and the Android x86 project.

Sam Cater’s Android on your netbook post covers all the basics of downloading the software and preparing a USB stick to boot it (using UNetbootin). Depending on your hardware, you may find that you need a different version – I couldn’t get the Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) RC to work on my Lenovo S10e, for instance, but a deprecated generic version of Froyo (Android 2.2) seemed to boot with no issues.

It doesn’t even seem to matter that there is no touch support in my chosen hardware – the mouse and keyboard seemed to do the job for me. It will need some more work for me to get Wi-Fi into action (this thread might help) but, for now, I’m happy that 10 minutes on the ‘net (and that’s all it was – 15 at the most) found a use for an old USB stick and gave me a chance to have a play.


Logging in to Lync 2010 with the Windows Phone client

Earlier today, Microsoft released the Lync 2010 client for Windows Phone (clients for Android, iPhone, iPad and Symbian are on their way).  And, as I’m an Office 365 user and I bought a Windows Phone last week, I decided to take a look.

Installing the app is straightforward enough but I was struggling to log in using the normal credentials that I use for other Office applications (like Outlook Mobile). From looking at the ratings on the app, it seems I’m not alone – with plenty of people saying “it doesn’t work”.

Microsoft’s advice for setting up Lync on Windows Phone is incomplete but the required DNS settings are documented in the Office 365 community wiki.  The missing piece of the puzzle came from Ben Lee – it’s necessary to specify a username (in the format user@domain.onmicrosoft.com) and an External Discovery URL of https://meet.lync.com/Autodiscover/autodiscoverservice.svc/Root.

Once those additional settings were configured, Lync jumped into life!

(For full client configuration details, with screenshots, check out Ben’s post.)

[Update 21 December 2011: It seems this also works with the iOS Lync client, except that also seems to need an Internal Discovery URL before it will allow sign-in (I used the same URL for both internal and external)]

“5 reasons to avoid Office 365?” Are you really sure about that?

It’s not often these days that I feel the need to defend Microsoft. After all, they’re big boys and girls who can fight their own battles. And yes, I’m an MVP but if you ask Microsoft’s UK evangelists (past and present), I’m sure they’ll tell you I’m pretty critical of Microsoft at times too…

So I was amazed yesterday to read some of the negative press about Office 365. Sure, some Microsoft-bashing is to be expected. So is some comparison with Google Apps. But when I read Richi Jennings5 reasons to avoid Microsoft Office 365 , I was less than complementary in my reaction.  I did leave a lengthy comment on the blog post, but ComputerWorld thinks I’m a spammer… and it was more than 140 characters so Richi’s Twitter invitation for constructive comments for his next post (5 reasons to embrace Office 365) was not really going to work either.

Picking up Richi’s arguments against Office 365:

  • On mobility. I’ll admit, there are some issues. Microsoft doesn’t seem to understand touch user interfaces for tablets (at least not until they have their own, next year perhaps?) so the web apps are not ideal on many devices. Even so, I’m using Exchange Online with my iOS devices and the ActiveSync support means it’s a breeze. We don’t have blanket WiFi/3G coverage yet (at least not here in the UK) so it is important to think about offline working and I’m not sure Microsoft has that sorted, but neither does anyone else that I’ve found. Ideally, Microsoft would create some iOS Office apps (OneNote for iPhone is not enough – it’s not a universal app and so is next to useless on an iPad) together with an Android solution too…
  • I don’t see what the issue is with MacOS support (except that the option to purchase a subscription to Office Professional Plus is Windows-only). I’m using Office 365 with Office for Mac and SharePoint integration is not as good as on Windows but there seems nothing wrong with document format fidelity or Outlook connecting to Exchange Online. I’ve used some of the web apps on my Mac too, including Lync.
  • Is £4 a month expensive for a reliable mail and collaboration service? I’m not sure that the P1 option for professionals and small businesses (which that price relates to) is “horribly crippled” either. If the “crippling” is about a lack of support, I left Google Apps because of… a lack of support (after they “upgraded” my Google Apps account but wanted me to change the email address on my then-orphaned “personal” account – and you think Microsoft makes it complex?)
  • Forest Federation is a solution that provides clear separation between cloud and on-premise resources. It may be complicated, but so are enterprise requirements for cloud services.  If that’s too complex, then you don’t probably don’t need Active Directory integration: try a lower-level Office 365 subscription…
  • As for  reliability, yes, there have been BPOS Outages. Ditto for Azure. But didn’t Google have some high-profile GMail outages recently? And Amazon? Office 365 (which was a beta until yesterday) has been pretty solid.  Let’s hope that the new infrastructure is an improvement on BPOS, but don’t write it off yet – it’s only just launched! Microsoft is advertising a financially-backed 99.9% uptime agreement

The point of Office 365 is not to move 100% to the cloud but to “bring office to the cloud” and use it in conjunction with existing IT investments (i.e. local PCs/Macs and Office).  If I’m a small business with few IT resources, it lets me concentrate on my business, rather than running mail servers, etc. Actually, that’s the sweet spot. Some enterprises may also move to Office 365 (at least in part) but, for many, they will continue to run their mail and collaboration infrastructure in house.

Richi says that, if he were a Microsoft Shareholder, he’d be “bitterly disappointed with [yesterday’s] news”. The market seems to think otherwise… whilst Microsoft stock is generally not performing well, it’s at least rising in the last couple of days…

Microsoft stock price compared with leading IS indices over the last 12 months

To be fair, Richi wasn’t alone, but he was the one with the headline grabbing post… (would it be rude to call it linkbait?)

Over on Cloud Pro, Dennis Howlett wasn’t too impressed either. He quoted Mary Jo Foley’s Office 365 summary post:

Office 365 is not Office in the cloud, even though it does include Office Web Apps, the Webified versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Office 365 is a Microsoft-hosted suite of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online €” plus an optional subscription-based version of Office 2010 Professional Plus that runs locally on PCs. The Microsoft-hosted versions of these cloud apps offer subsets of their on-premises server counterparts (Exchange, SharePoint and Lync servers), in terms of features and functionality.”

Yep, that’s pretty much it. Office 365 is not about competing with Office, it’s about extending Office so that:

  • It’s attractive to small and medium-sized businesses, so that they don’t need to run their own server infrastructure.
  • There are better opportunities for collaboration, using “the cloud” as a transport (and, it has to be said, giving people less reason to move to Google Apps).

Dennis says:

“Microsoft has fallen into the trap that I see increasingly among enterprise vendors attempting to migrate their business models into the cloud: they end up with a half baked solution that does little for the user but gives some bragging rights. All the time, they seek to hang on grimly to the old business model, tinkering with it but not taking the radical steps necessary to understand working in the cloud.”

Hmm… many enterprises are not ready to put the data that is most intimately linked to their internal workings into the cloud. They look at some targeted SaaS opportunities; they might use IaaS and PaaS technologies to provide some flexibility and elasticity; they may implement cloud technologies as a “private cloud”. But Office 365 allows organisations to pick and choose the level of cloud integration that they are comfortable with – it might be all (for example, my wife’s small business) or none (for example me, working for a large enterprise), or somewhere in between.

Office 365 has some issues – I’m hoping we’ll see some more development around mobility and web app functionality – but it’s a huge step forward. After years of being told that Windows and Office are dead and that Microsoft has no future, they’ve launched something that positions the company for both software subscriptions (which they’ve been trying to do for years) and has the ability to host data on premise, in the cloud, or in a hybrid solution. “The cloud” is not for everyone, but there aren’t many organisations that can’t get something out of Office 365.