In days of old when Nokia’s Symbian was my mobile OS of choice I was all about SyncML, an open standard for the synchronization of calendars, contacts, notes and tasks. Long before “cloud computing” was the annoying buzzword that it is today I was happily syncing my data to my online account at Memotoo. Yes, I had to initiate each sync manually and yes, I had to pay for the service. But Memotoo and SyncML gave this nascent freedom beard safe harbour from the clutches of Google and Microsoft Outlook for many years. I didn’t even start using Gmail until I switched to Android in 2010.
What does any of this have to do with Firefox OS? Hang on, I’m getting to it!
Though a direct citation escapes me at the moment, most of what I’ve read seems to suggest that Mozilla’s mobile OS is targeted at the developing world. But there’s another group of users that Firefox would do well to court—geeks like yours truly who, despite some four years on with Android, are still wary of the all-seeing and all-knowing powers of Google. For us, Firefox OS shows great promise; app permissions and an OS-wide do not track setting get a big thumbs-up, but when it comes to personal information management (PIM) Firefox fails, and fails hard.
On the Firefox OS calendar app there is at least support for CalDav, another open standard for interacting with remote calendars. You can read more about CalDav vs. SyncML in this Stack Exchange thread.
In the contacts app, however, the only available option for import is from Facebook. We freedom beards don’t care much for Facebook.
For to-dos there is an available third-party app called Fire Tasks, but it will only sync with Google. And for notes, I can’t find anything in the Firefox Marketplace that will sync with a remote server. I did find a third-party PC Sync app, but (1) it doesn’t include calendar support, and (2) who syncs to a single PC any more?!!
I think Memotoo and Firefox OS would be a great fit. Memotoo may be getting on in years, but let’s be honest here—Firefox OS, at least in its current form, doesn’t fare so well next to Android or iOS, either. Adding SyncML support would at least bring the platform in line with PDA phones from seven years ago, and make it a viable alternative for those seeking refuge from Apple, Google and Microsoft.
And at this point in smartphone history, I would humbly submit that Firefox needs all the help it can get.