Today at Mobile World Congress Microsoft announced a new free service called My Phone. The service is available as part of a limited beta, meaning it’s possible you might get temporarily waitlisted, but the queue should progress quickly as things ramp up. Now, some of you might have heard rumors about it last week and already have questions, while others might just be curious what My Phone is all about. I took some time to talk with the team responsible for the product and hopefully this post will answer your questions and give you an idea what to expect from the service.
So, what is Microsoft My Phone? Well, basically it consists of a password-protected web site and an on-device application, which together will help you back-up, restore, and manage your mobile phone data. If you’ve ever wanted to save your text messages, hated re-entering all your contact information when you bought a new phone, or wished you could easily archive some of your pictures, then I think you’re about to be happy.
From the main site, getting started is as simple as entering your Windows Live ID. After you’re signed in to the web site, you’ll need to download the application to your Windows Mobile phone. You can either navigate to an installation link using your phone’s browser or you can have a link text messaged to your phone.
Once the application is installed on your phone, setting things up is pretty easy. You’ll need to enter your Windows Live ID and select your synchronization method, but after that the application does pretty much everything for you. By default, My Phone synchronizes contacts, calendar appointments, tasks, photos, videos, text messages, music, and documents that are stored on the device. If you want to synchronize items from a storage card you’ll need to change your My Phone settings, but it is possible. For more specifics on what can and can not be synchronized, see the My Phone information page.
When setup is complete, your phone will begin to synchronize with the online website. You don’t have to watch, but it’s kind of interesting and doesn’t really take that long if you want to stick it out. As you can see below, my first synchronization was successful and, among other things, backed up 144 text messages. Let’s go see what that looks like online.
After logging into the My Phone site, you’ll see a pretty clean interface. The My Phone service provides users with 200 MB of storage. As you can see below, synchronized data is broken up into relevant categories on the left hand side of the screen. For now, let’s take a look at my Text Messages as an example of how your data would be accessible.
Clicking on the Text Messages category, you’ll be presented with your most recent text messages. The rest can be seen by using the page drop down menu, in this case I’m on page 1 of 10. Taking a look at the screen you’ll notice a couple of things. When you click on a specific text message, you’ll see on the right side of the screen that you have the ability to delete it or archive it to the web. The little device icon on each row, indicates that all of my text messages are currently synchronized. If they were archived, you’d see a little box with an arrow. Archived means that the text message is removed from the phone and stored on the web. Anything that is archived can later be restored to the phone. You’ll also notice that you have the ability to search your text messages and filter them by type (sent/received/draft).
Switching over to videos, you’ll notice that the interface is similar, but not quite the same. Unlike text messages, for videos you’ll have the additional ability to upload to the web site for synchronization and download from the web site to your computer for local viewing. Documents, music, and photos all essentially work the same way.
The calendar, like contacts and tasks, presents a third interface that is slightly different from the others. For these categories, in addition to the functionality you’d expect, you have the added ability to create new records. These new contacts, appointments, and tasks can then be synchronized to the device.
I know that was a quick overview of what the My Phone service offers, but hopefully it helped some. If you have questions please feel free to post them as comments and we’ll try to get you an answer. You can also get more information at the My Phone team blog and the My Phone forum.