Funambol releases native Apple iPhone plug-in; wirelessly syncs contacts with Outlook, Gmail, more

Funambol, a provider of mobile 2.0 messaging software powered by open source, has released a free open source native app for Apple iPhone contact synchronization. The Funambol plug-in for iPhone synchronizes the iPhone’s address book with contacts from popular sources such as Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, GNOME Evolution and SyncML servers such as the Funambol server.

Until now, contact synchronization on the iPhone was possible only using a cable connected to a computer running iTunes. The new Funambol plug-in is the first open source native app for iPhone address book synchronization. Funambol provides two ways to wirelessly access contacts on your iPhone from Outlook, Web, and work email systems, and other sources: 1) a Safari browser web app for all users; and 2) a native app for developers and advanced users that have “jailbroken” their iPhone.

“In mobile, the open road is the only road. The pace of development must be rapid, the compatibility wide and the cost reasonable. Open networks and devices are on the rise and are transforming the mobile industry,” said Fabrizio Capobianco, CEO of Funambol, inthe press release. “The Funambol open source community has been operating at this pace for years and is delivering innovation that give people access to features they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

The Funambol iPhone plug-in was developed in large part by Patrick Ohly, a long-time member of the Funambol community. Demonstrating the full value of open source, he set out to develop a native iPhone sync solution. He upgraded SyncEvolution for the iPhone which provides the core syncing capabilities. Funambol adapted the plug-in’s user interface from its work with other mobile devices.

“Just as the cable physically ties the iPhone to a computer, the dependency on iTunes locks iPhone users into a specific platform. Because SyncML is a well-established, open standard for data synchronization, adding support for it to the iPhone was an obvious choice,” said Ohly in the press release. “Extending SyncEvolution was simple – the hard part was to figure out how the contact data on the iPhone could be accessed, due to the current lack of documentation. Hopefully, Apple’s SDK will fill that gap.”

Earlier this year, Funambol announced the availability of the first over-the-air (OTA) web-based contacts app for the iPhone. With the addition of this new native app for the iPhone, Funambol once again demonstrates the strength of the open source model. With the release of the Apple iPhone SDK in Q1, 2008, Funambol looks forward to extending the iPhone plug-in for capabilities such as calendar sync and push email.

Funambol provides open source-based mobile email, contacts and calendars for 1.5 billion mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPod, and phones from Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG and other device manufacturers.

More info, screenshots and download link here.


  1. Excellent software. This will take the iPhone to a new level that will make it surpass Blackberry in terms of corporate email relevance.

    Anyone using Windows Mobile will be seen as a corporate recidivist. Microsoft makes nothing but unusable software that’s forced fed to 90% of the population (and loved by 0%). As the iPhone supplants WM6 devices in the workplace, MS will be forced to come up with a Zunephone that will have voice dialling, but only to Ballmer’s number, as it will break down so often you’d want to throw a chair at that fat bastard.

  2. This, like all “native” iPhone apps, relies on a hacked / Jail-broken iPhone, and it’s way more likely that Apple will break it with future iPhone software updates than that they won’t.

    The “web portal” version does NOT sync contacts to your phone. It syncs them to their website, which you can access from your iPhone only when you have internet service. This is nothing new — several services are offering contacts & calendars stored on the web, and many e-mail collaboration suites (Exchange, Gmail, Zimbra, etc.) offer access to your mail, contacts, calendar, and other data through an iPhone-friendly web interface.

    This is a non-starter. Nothing to see. Move along.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.