Sync or be sunk

Anthony Caruana
24 February, 2008
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One of the challenges Mac users face is trying to sync their mobile devices with their Mac. In a recent forum post, I asked readers for some input to an upcoming column on smartphones. Due to the space constraints of the print version of Australian Macworld I won’t be able to cover sync solutions in that feature so I thought I’d pull them together in this post.

There are five main categories of mobile devices that I’m going to cover. These are: Mobile Phones; Windows Mobile; Palm; BlackBerry and The Rest.

Mobile Phones. The best solution for syncing mobile phones, in my view, is Apple’s iSync. A quick visit to Apple’s iSync web page reveals a massive list of compatible phones from a wide range of manufacturers. If your phone’s listed then you can connect, either via USB or Bluetooth, and sync Address Book and iCal data between your phone and Mac easily.

If your mobile’s not listed on the supported device’s list don’t despair. Nokia has started developing iSync plug-ins for its latest phones. Slip over to Nokia’s Mac support site and find your phone. The scripts are free of charge. I’ve been using the N95 script for some time and, in the Apple tradition, it just works.

Nova Media is a German company that makes connectivity sync software for the Mac. It has developed scripts for over 150 phones. At 10 Euros, these scripts are a cheap way to augment iSync.

Windows Mobile. There are two applications that provide sync services for Windows Mobile user but there’s only one I’d recommend. Mark/Space’s The Missing Sync is a wonderful application. In fact, when I show it to Windows users who run with either ActiveSync (for Windows XP and earlier) or Windows Mobile Device Center (Windows Vista) they’re astounded — Windows Mobile actually does more under OS X than with Windows. It’s a rich application that syncs calendar and contact data from iCal/Address Book and Microsoft Entourage.

The Missing Sync for Windows Mobile costs $US40.

There’s a version of PocketMac for Windows Mobile but as I’ve not tested the latest version yet I can’t make a recommendation about it.

Palm. Palm offers Mac support with its hardware out of the box making it easy to get up and running with a Palm and a Mac. Hotsync lets you connect and sync Palm devices to Address Book and iCal by creating a special plug-in for iSync.

If you use Entourage there’s a version of The Missing Sync for Palm that also lets you synchronise iPhoto and iTunes media. It costs $US40.

BlackBerry. RIM’s BlackBerry can be synchronised to a Mac using PocketMac for the BlackBerry. One of the neat things about PocketMac for BlackBerry is that RIM has paid the license fee so the software is free for all BlackBerry users.

Other Devices. The number of mobile devices that we carry around has proliferated significantly over recent years. Sony’s PlayStation Portable, the iPhone and a plethora of different Symbian devices make for significant challenges. Fortunately, both PocketMac and Mark/Space have been working on software that lets you connect and sync a huge variety of pocket-sized hardware. Take a look at the manufacturers’ sites to look for sync software for your particular hardware.

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