This post was last updated on May 15 at 11:28 a.m., PT.
Earlier on Thursday, we reported on the Singapore HTC Magic launch and learned from our friends at CNET Asia that HTC has two more Google Android devices planned for the year. Great to hear, but was there more immediate good news that flew under the radar?
In Damian Koh's hands-on report of the Magic, right there in the sixth picture, plain as day, is Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support on the HTC Magic (kudos to CNET News reporter Stephen Shankland for noticing).
Koh also writes, "One of the new features on the Magic is support for Microsoft Exchange. We managed to get it to sync with our Outlook e-mails, contacts, and calendar entries with nary a hassle." HardwareZone also mentioned Exchange support in its report of the Asia-bound Magic.
The lack of native Exchange ActiveSync support has been a major detractor for the T-Mobile G1's use in the corporate environment. True, recent third-party applications like DataViz Documents to Go have added this functionality, but native support would be huge. It's not clear, however, whether the Exchange compatibility is specific to the Magic or if it will be pushed out to the other
Android devices (the G1 and European model of the HTC Magic), but we can't imagine that support is far behind.
Messages to the
Google Android camp were not returned as of press time.
A Google representative issued this statement in response to our question about native Exchange support:
"Android does not currently include support for Microsoft Exchange. This remains a ripe opportunity for 3rd parties, as the Android Open Source project, supported by Android Market, provides developers complete freedom to extend Android and enable a wide range of connected mobile services. We are beginning to see initiatives and products from the community designed to target the mobile enterprise market. We believe our approach of openness, both at the platform level and for application distribution, will drive rapid innovation and availability of consumer and enterprise solutions on Android."
Clearly, this left us a little confused, especially after we talked to Damian and he confirmed the Exchange support was native to the OS on the Magic, so we got in touch with our HTC contact here in the U.S., who offered this clarification:
"The Vodafone version of Magic has "with Google" on the back, like the G1. This simple phrase indicates that the phone has a pure Google experience - no customizations have been made to the software. The Magic being sold in most of Asia is not a "Google experience" phone so we are able to add HTC-specific software into Android. That version of Magic has Exchange support, plus a more full featured camera application, a custom dialer application with smart dial and additional widgets as well."
There you have it. Unfortunately, this means that we won't see this feature pushed out to the G1, which also has the "with Google" on back, but it's also interesting that you have these two flavors of Android devices. However, we should also point out that the Asian HTC Magic isn't carrier-specific, so perhaps this has something to do with it.