If you’re not fully up to speed on iSync, Click Here. Apple includes iSync with Mac OS X these days and what it does (most of the time) is quite remarkable. It synchonizes important information from your Mac to:
1) your iPod (or iPod mini, or both)
2) another Mac (or Macs, via .Mac)
3) a PDA (like Palm or Sony’s Clie’)
4) your cell phone (a bunch, including Bluetooth)
5) your .Mac account (great backups)
6) even Safari bookmarks (via .Mac)
What’s cool about that? One click. It’s all taken care of. For the most part, iSync works very well. So well, in fact, I’m surprising there’s nothing quite like this copied into the Windows world.
True to the nature of Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs, iSync works best as an “all in one” application (like the iMac is an “all-n-one” computer) and works best with Apple’s .Mac service.
Still, iSync does what it says it does. It syncs. It’ll sync your contact information into your iPod so it’s available when you travel (assuming you travel with your iPod).
We have both an iPod and an iPod mini. Both get synced up at the same time (or separately, iSync doesn’t care).
If you’re using a .Mac account (recommended, of course—if you’re using multiple Macs), it’ll keep your iCal calendar information and your Address Book information well synced between Macs AND provide you with an online copy available from an Internet connected computer anywhere.
It’s difficult to get away from using Microsoft Office on the Mac. Word and Excel and PowerPoint are standards of the business world, and, as slick as AppleWorks once was, it’s not as compatible with Office as I’d like (where’s AppleWorks “X”, the MS Office killer?). I finally weened my way off Microsoft Entourage and went full on with Apple’s mail app.
No, iSync doesn’t do anything with Mail. However, Mail works great with iCal and Address Book and it’s that total package that made me switch from Entourage. I wanted iSync to handle my Address Book and I wanted that connected to my email.
iSync makes it all happen. This change, of course, wasn’t easy. Microsoft Entourage is best of breed. It’s Mac-like (didn’t need to read the manual), intuitive, feature-laden, and works well. Mail is getting better, though.
Finally, I have a near fool-proof way of using Mail to prevent spam from taking over my inbox. I simply set up the filter to scan all incoming email messages. First, it checks to see if that sender is in my Address Book. If the sender is, great. I get the message. If not, wooooosh. Into the Junk Mail it goes. It also checks to see if I’ve sent that person a message (in my Address Book or not). If so, I get the message. If not, wooooosh. Into the Junk Mail.
Every now and then I sort through the junk mail to find one that slipped by. But nothing that’s true junk slips into my inbox. Thank you Mail and Address Book.
Why’s that important? The overall experience of using iSync is what makes it so valuable. I can now click on a new email message from someone and that address gets store into Address Book. Then it’s copied via iSync to my iPod, other Macs, our cell phones, the Palm Pilot—you get the idea.
I happen to agree with Steve Jobs. PDA functionality is heading toward cell phones, not into stand alone devices. We’ve had Palms. And a Sony Clie’. They would sync rather easily with the Mac, but not as easily as a cell phone and the phones these days are loaded with features.
Hey, at some point next year Motorola will release a cell phone that syncs with iTunes playlists and downloads music. So, the future is in the cell phone and that’s where Apple’s focusing the “synchronization” efforts.
iSync works very well with our cell phones. One’s a Siemens S56 with Bluetooth, the other a Motorola using a USB cable. The S56 is waaaaay cool. First, I can leave the phone in my pocket, click Sync on iSync, and everything gets updated. Better yet, the cell phone connects to AT&T’s data network, so I can head to the beach or park or anywhere the cell phone works, and still browse and get email on my laptop.
Since we run a bunch of Macs in the office (from a new G5 to a 17” PowerBook to an old, old flat panel iMac, it’s nice to keep them all synchronized and with the same Safari bookmarks. iSync (via .Mac) is what makes that happen.
Once click per machine and it’s done.
Think of it this way. Address Book information is valuable and needs to be shared and stored. Same with iCal daily calendars. Same with Safari’s bookmarks. For Address Book and iCal, I can get them on everything; the cell phones, the iPods, different Macs.
But there’s a sour note in there, too. iSync needs something else.
First, my Home directory on Mac OS X needs to be synchronized to other computers. That’s not trivial. Right now, including iTunes music, iPhoto photos, and everything else I’ve saved for years, my Home directory is just over 27 gigs in size.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to sync all that to my iPod? Perhaps to other Macs? My iPod is an older one at 30 gigs. So, there’d be space. Yes, if I lost the iPod there’d be hell to pay, but encrypting parts of the Home files could be done.
I’d like to see iSync help sync the Home directory to other Macs, select files to .Mac, and certainly to an iPod. The new high end iPod is 40 gigabytes. 60 gigabyte models can’t be far behind.
How much of a technical challenge is it to get iSync to add that process to the list?
Between you and me and the fence post, I’m convinced that Steve Jobs has something special up his sleeve and we’ll be seeing some sort of a tablet Mac in the near future. It’ll be as small as an iBook screen, 60 gig hard drive, 802.11g wireless, and stream audio AND video to your TV or stereo system.
Think of “AirTunes” for your TV. Your “base” Mac. iSync centered.
iSync will take care of synchronizing your main Mac and the tablet Mac, so all your applications and other goodies will also be available.
What do you think? Would you buy a wireless tablet Mac? What would you pay?
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