Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Flurry for email, feeds on mobile phones?






Recently I blogged about WidSets for receiving feeds and Gmail etc on mobile phones (coincidentally WidSets has just been officially launched by Nokia).

There are other similar free services around, like Flurry.

Flurry is simple to set up and lets you not only receive feeds and email on your mobile, but also reply to your email via your cellphone (which you can't yet do with WidSets).

However, I tried Flurry only briefly, then stopped. Why?

Three main reasons.

Stops other POP downloads

First, testing Flurry (which accesses your Gmail via POP) mucked up my ability to access Gmail via POP on the Nokia 7710. The main way I access my Gmail on the move is via my 7710. But when I signed up for Flurry and installed it, my 7710 kept saying that I had no mail at all in my Gmail account even when there was. I tried it with another Gmail account, same thing.

So, somehow Flurry seems to prevent other methods of downloading your Gmail via POP. Or maybe when it downloads your Gmail it keeps resetting the time from which mail will be downloaded (so that only mail after that time will be available), which means that as far as other methods are concerned there's nothing to download. I haven't had time to test that aspect and frankly I don't want to take the time to, because of the other reasons why I don't want to use Flurry.

Privacy and trust

The second reason is privacy. Flurry will of course have full details of the email usernames and passwords of all the email accounts I enter in my Flurry account. Now when I use a WidSets Gmail widget to read my Gmail, I give WidSets my user/password details too. But you do have the ability to store those user/password details just on your phone, not on the WidSets site (though admittedly, on one account I tried, I could only get it to work by entering the info via the site - still, I've put that down to my inability to input via the 7710's keyboard properly!). And Flurry have my cell phone number as well as my email user/password.

The fact is, the WidSets widget still tries to give you that option of added privacy. When I use POP on my Nokia 7710, similarly I store my user/password info only on the 7710. I don't like the idea of Flurry having my email login details on their site, I know they say they encrypt it etc, but I just don't feel comfortable about it. (And Nokia are behind WidSets, whereas I'm not sure about who's behind Flurry. I know a big name doesn't necessarily mean much, look at AOL releasing zillions of user searches that could be traced to the individuals concerned. But still I feel happier with WidSets, personally. That's just me.)

Control

The final reason is control. The WidSets accounts page clearly has an option at the bottom of the page to delete your account. Flurry doesn't even give you the ability to delete your account, as far as I can see. You can't delete your email details either, you must always have one email address in your Flurry account (for which you've given them the password) - you can't e.g. have just one feed URL in your account which you want delivered to your phone, and delete all your email details. So if you want to use Flurry just for feeds, not email, they still demand at least one email login/password set from you. Again, I don't like that. I want to control how much info I give them, I don't like being forced to give them my email password.

So, I've stopped using Flurry (I'd delete my account if I could, but I can't). And, call me paranoid, but I've also changed the passwords for the email accounts I'd given them previously. I'll probably try to change the phone number in my Flurry account to some false one too, if I could, though I don't want my email going to some random person's phone.

Don't get me wrong, I know others use Flurry and are very happy with it. But I won't be using it, myself - I'll stick with my trusty Nokia 7710 and WidSets.

2 comments:

Henry Sohn said...

Thanks for checking out flurry and writing about your experiences with it. We believe strongly in listening to community feedback in order to build a better product and user experience, and hope we've done a decent job of creating one that is easy to use and keeps the user experience in mind. I'd like to offer a few observations regarding your experience.

The POP problem you mentioned is actually only related to GMail. GMail has implemented POP3 in such a way so that anytime the POP inbox has been accessed, all of that mail is then cleared from the inbox, and there is no way to tell GMail to keep it there. We do not have this "POP conflict" problem with any other POP service (like Yahoo! Mail or any ISP service). However, the good news is that Gmail has reportedly fixed this problem and we hope to address it shortly (probably next week).

Regarding the privacy and trust issue, we do understand. We take users' privacy and the protection of their information very seriously. As with any company that must rely on the trust of its users to be in business, we understand how important this is.

We require an email and password, primarily because the first service we built was the mobile email product (initially called flurrymail). The RSS capability was a feature we added a bit later. We store this information so we can proxy the data and strip out any extraneous information that is not necessary on the phone, as well as compress the data, etc. (saves on data costs) But your concerns around not wanting to keep the email service is a valid one, and we are discussing ways to address it.

With regarding to deleting accounts we here you and are reviewing that policy as well. So thanks for your input!

Henry Sohn
Chief Product Officer
flurry, inc.

Improbulus said...

A very belated response, I appreciate your taking the time to deal with my issues. I may give Flurry another try sometime, but to be honest even basic things like sending me an SMS when I get new mail didn't work!