Use Touchdown for Exchange on Android

I have been really loving the Android-based T-Mobile myPhone, I’ve gotta say. Okay, the name is kind of dorky, but the phone has been awesome. I’ve slowly gotten used to the soft keyboard, although I’ll never be as fast or accurate with it as a real keyboard. But this is the first phone I’ve had that feels like a real computer, versus a phone with some computery functionality wedged in. I love that applications can reach out and access the GPS or contacts data without asking me about it all the time, and that they can put widgets in the top bar with the temperature, or notifying me of something important I need to pay attention to. So far my experience with this phone has been fantastic. And the battery has even been lasting all day, with heavy data and minor GPS usage. Win!

But it took quite some time to find the right Exchange app. The “Work Email” app that comes with the myTouch is competent at pulling down your email, but that’s about it. It didn’t handle contacts well, nor the calendar, nor tasks. The phone is really designed around using Google Mail, which I use, but not as my primary email system. For that I use an Exchange server that I pay monthly for, and it has made my life so much simpler that I am loathe to replace it!

I went through three or four Exchange apps, as well as a few small apps that claimed to just do contacts, or just calendar, and I only found two that worked well: RoadSync and Touchdown.

I used the RoadSync beta for two or three weeks, and it almost did exactly what I wanted. Email worked great and was pushed to the phone quite rapidly. Unfortunately there was no Tasks synchronization, the Calendar didn’t work and the Contacts did not synch all the information I needed (addresses, for example). After a few weeks I grew to not trust the app to synch data back that I had entered on the phone, and the lack of a useful Calendar really blew it for me. I liked a lot of things about RoadSync though, and when it’s out of beta I’m sure it will be a strong app, as they are definitely planning all those features.

Touchdown, on the other hand, has been rock-solid and already does everything that I want. It has solid Tasks and Calendar integration, it copies its Contacts to the phone and synchronizes them, and the email does HTML. I can rely on it for everything, it seems; it really has been no different than using a Windows Mobile phone. What makes me happiest is that it integrates into the phone in the same way as the stock mail and calendar apps, so I get alerts in the notification bar just as I do with Google-based mail and calendar events. And they are kept separate, which I don’t care about it either way, but I know some people need.

So if you are doing a Google search to try and find which Exchange-based app to use, I recommend stopping your search here and buying Touchdown. It was $19.99 when I downloaded it, and it is money well spent.