One of the best features of Apple’s iTunes is the ability to synchronize everything—music, movies, TV shows, photos, contacts, calendar—Mac or PC to your iPhone or iPod touch.
Without much fanfare, Apple has made easy that which was once a royal pain in the backside—mobile data that synchronized seamlessly to the desktop. The benefits are obvious. So, what are not more Mac software developers and iPhone apps developers on the bandwagon?
I ask the question because I see a problem coming from down the road. Most of us prognosticators expect Apple to introduce a new iPhone this summer and I’ll be in line to get one. But this time I have a few worries.
My Mac is a wonder of synchronizing capability. I use MobileMe so my Address Book contacts and my iCal calendars are synced automagically between my Mac and iPhone, regardless of the physical connection.
I’m comfortable that my basic, important data is backed up. If I lose my iPhone or it crashes and needs to be restored, iTunes comes to the rescue, right? Plug it in, sync it up?
What about my iPhone bowling scores? My iPhone keeps those, and the app gets backed up every day, but what happens when I get a new iPhone? Do my scores disappear?
The issue here is one of data integrity. My iPhone data, whatever it is, should be fully synchronized between my Mac and iPhone, and, it should be transportable, meaning that if I want to move it all to an iPod touch, I can. Or, to a new iPhone.
For some iPhone apps, that synchronization of data is not easily done but highly desirable. Here’s a good example. Weather.
The iPhone weather app is handy and you can set up a dozen different locations to check the weather with nothing more than a flick. Until you get a new iPhone or an iPod touch. The weather cities have to be entered again.
NetNewsWire, the premiere and free RSS reader, synchronizes your RSS feeds from iPhone to NewsGator to Mac. Add a new iPhone, the data follows you. What about Road Trip, my favorite gas mileage and maintenance app for the iPhone?
A new iPhone means all that data I’ve entered for the past year is, well, history. Is there a way to move the data from the old iPhone settings to the new iPhone?
I bought Cha-Ching for my Mac and iPhone because it syncs my financial information back and forth and doesn’t care that I’m about to buy a new iPhone. It’ll sync within minutes.
My favorite Mac task manager is Things, which has an excellent sync ability between Mac and iPhone, so a new iPhone won’t pose a sync problem. Not so with Lose It which tracks my daily diet and weight. That data won’t transfer to a new iPhone from my Mac (if there’s a way, let me know, as I don’t want to start over).
I keep all my serial numbers in Wallet, which syncs wonderfully, Mac to iPhone and back again. The same with 1Password for all my login ID’s and passwords. It’s a sync from a Mac app to an iPhone app, and doesn’t care which iPhone, new or old.
How about those apps that track WiFi locations? I keep a list on each of San Francisco favorite hot spots and that data won’t transfer to the new iPhone. The same holds true for my stocks. The favorites are unable to transfer to a new iPhone, requiring entry by hand. Again.
See the problem? Plenty of the data we collect and gather and store on our iPhones may not make the trip to a new iPhone this summer. Apple has us covered with MobleMe and iCal and Address Book. Even Safari bookmarks will make the trip to the new iPhone.
But not Weather, not Stocks, not my high scores in 300 Bowl or a few other iPhone games. The future is data integrity, full and seamless synchronization and back up. Mac software developers working on iPhone counterpart apps are beginning to figure that out.
What about all the thousands of iPhone apps developers. Those that store data on the iPhone need a way to get that data from one iPhone to another, either back to the Mac or Windows PC, or some how. It’s my data. I want it preserved.