Apple releases iSync
September 28, 2002 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Apple releases iSync barely meeting its promise to unveil the software before the end of September. Will Apple's iSync finally take the hassle out of syncing between PDAs, online calenders, email, and cell phones? Why hasn't anyone else made this kind of software?
posted by jragon (19 comments total)
Why hasn't anyone else made this kind of software?

Because the people making such software have typically been the device manufacturers; syncing to multiple devices wasn't something they were either interested in or they weren't aware of its usefulness. That, and syncing to multiple devices is a recent idea because we haven't had multiple devices, all of which with contact and calendar information, to sync to. I still don't have a compatible phone, but I've got a Palm and an iPod, for example.

I've been looking forward to iSync since it was announced. I've already installed it. Just backing up my data now -- oh there, I'm done! -- before firing it up. Will report back momentarily.

Before anyone complains about yet another Apple post, this is really significant stuff. I'd say more, but I've got to play with this software. See ya.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:16 AM on September 28, 2002

Well, that was easy. My iPod now has my entire address book and schedule loaded on it, and it's all backed up on .Mac. When I go to work on Monday, I'm apparently going to be able to add all my work contacts into the mix.
posted by jragon at 11:17 AM on September 28, 2002

Maybe Apple will buy Handspring. Or at least invest in it.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:18 AM on September 28, 2002

ParisParamus: Why? Handspring makes interesting devices but that's about all. They don't actually OWN any compelling technologies. All the hardware and OS comes from Palm.

That said, I've been living without my Palm V because OSX has been such a compelling choice for my desktop OS. Today has affirmed that I will continue living without my Palm and I will either get an iPod or snazzy new phone. It took six different screens, entering personal contact info and then waiting for email only to have to connect to yet another webpage to download Palm Desktop 4.0 for OSX, which you still have to have to sync to a Palm. Then, the installer suggests that I may have to restart. I have now totally lost interest in the Palm V that I scraped the coin together to buy not too many years ago.
posted by shagoth at 11:30 AM on September 28, 2002

Why isn't this software more common? Because the diversity of devices and PIM software is simply too huge! Cobbling together a single system that can manage the data on just a couple of different devices is hard enough as it is, adding support for more devices and data formats is expensive in terms of time and effort.

I've got useful data in too many different places: My cell, my RIM device, my palm, my .muttrc file's aliases, two separate Exchange repositories at work, and these are just the places with contact data I can think of off the top of my head. Hooking all that stuff up together would require writing software to the HotSync API, extending the (commercial and closed) RIM Intellisync libraries, god knows what kind of Nokia-lawsuit-invoking evil to get data in and out of the phone, some noxious Exchange client library coding, and some dotfile parsing. That's all before dreaming up a useful interface that allows me to indicate just how all these devices -- with separate ideas of what information ought to look like -- should map to each other.

I wouldn't undertake a project like that for money, let alone my personal convenience.
posted by majick at 11:39 AM on September 28, 2002

shagoth, Palm Desktop for OS X is the reason why I've been looking forward to Address Book/iCal/iSync -- that, and having the same contact list across my apps (I use Apple Mail). Palm Desktop is dreadful on the eyes and not very appealing to use in my books; the PC version is much better, which is actually saying something.

Synchronization took more time than I thought it would, and setting up the iSync conduit in HotSync manager took a bit of fiddling, but it works. I overwrote my Palm m505's contacts and it kept the old calendar data -- i.e., it worked as it should. So far, so good.

Now I need to find a compatible phone. The last time I checked, nobody in Canada was offering one (Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS, SyncML compatible). The moment one of 'em does, they've got me. I want my cell phone to have the same contact list!
posted by mcwetboy at 11:48 AM on September 28, 2002

Now if someone would just develop a way for Pocket PC 2002 to synch with Linux or OS X.
posted by adampsyche at 12:18 PM on September 28, 2002

Now if someone would just develop a way for Pocket PC 2002 to synch with Linux or OS X.
posted by machaus at 12:28 PM on September 28, 2002

Damn. I thought this was a follow up to the Britney Spears/Justin Timberlake thread.

You know, because iSync and nSync sort of sound the... forget it.
posted by The God Complex at 12:40 PM on September 28, 2002

synchronization is always going to be a pain no matter what software is developed. I have been synchronizing between windows CE and full versions of windows for a few years now. Because of the volume of files that I work with - I'm doing GCSEs - I can't synchronize every file through the normal process. This means I need to copy files over individually. This for all but the highly organized quite often results in loads of different versions of files on different devices. Really the only solution I can see is to move files from device to device when needed rather than just copy them creating multiple versions all over the place.
posted by dpen2000 at 2:21 PM on September 28, 2002

Why hasn't anyone else made this kind of software?

Someone did a long time ago [minus Bluetooth support since there were no Bluetooth devices or the iPod]. I think it was FusionOne that had the product. And PalmOS gets along nicey with Windows.

Or I guess the question is really Why hasn't Apple made this kind of software yet?

I thought we were trying not to have FPPs every time Apple releases a product.

In the interest of balance, Microsoft Announces Windows Media 9 beta. Whoopdy Doo
posted by birdherder at 3:46 PM on September 28, 2002

And yet you came in. And read the comments. And posted. Come on, version 1 of something is always more noteworthy than version 9 of something that's existed in one form or another for over 10 years.

When Microsoft releases a brand new product that solves an ongoing problem in computing, I'm sure someone will post it. We'll see.
posted by jragon at 3:54 PM on September 28, 2002

Hundreds of thousands of IR phones, hundreds of thousands IR ports on Macs. There would be a useful application for iSync. Maybe in 2015 I can start using the Bluetooth capabilities. How about IR support in iSync v2?
posted by sylloge at 4:44 PM on September 28, 2002

Sorry, but PocketMac won't synch AvantGo, nor will it synch stuff like Contacts unless you've got Entourage or Outlook installed.

I'd gladly pay $100 / year for a .mac account if iSync could talk to my iPaq 3850. I love the hw but the sw has problems. I cant' believe ActiveSynch is a v3.0 product!

How I miss my Newtons!
posted by Mutant at 4:59 PM on September 28, 2002

Why an Apple post on the front page: Because as one of the more innovative companies in the world today, where they go, others soon follow. What Apple does is of interest to many readers - regardless of platform preference.

Now then, about iSync: Though committed to OS X, Apple, and its earthly representative Steve Jobs, I'm not all that excited about this. Indeed, until the PDA becomes a more powerful extension of my computer, I've no use for one (and I've tried a couple).

I'm just not a particularly organized person - all the hardware and software in the world isn't going to change that. As such, iCal and iSync are not particularly compelling for me.
posted by aladfar at 7:59 PM on September 28, 2002

Why hasn't anyone else made this kind of software?

I started using a service called fusionOne several years ago (although I don't use it much any more, and I'm not sure if they still run a free service). It's a web-based tool that includes software downloads for your computer, your PDA, and has links to cellular networks for your mobile phone.
It's very similar to iSync/.mac in that it offers a centralised syncing service for all of your devices, including web-based access to your information.

They're still up and running, although they seem to have geared themselves more towards businesses than personal customers. But it might still be worth a look.
posted by chrismear at 11:42 PM on September 28, 2002

(whoops -- this is the same fusionOne that birdherder mentioned.)
posted by chrismear at 11:46 PM on September 28, 2002

My comment re Apple's purchase of Palm: because I think Apple should get back into the PDA business. And because
Handspring, last I heard, wasn't doing that well. Also, because the Palm desktop for Apple is rather lame.

OK. What I'd really like is Apple to get into the PDA business and come up with Palm-compatible software. Palm

Additional rant: the cynical people at Palm suppressed the feature which allowed long memos to cascacade into successive, new memos. I had to find an older version of their desktop software for PC. And there was never a Cascade feature for Apple. And long memos are just truncated.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:13 AM on September 29, 2002


Just wait a couple more months for those phones to show up in Canada. Trust me.

posted by lowlife at 4:54 PM on September 29, 2002

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