Apple launched the public beta of iSync last September, but now released as a full (and free) product, it could be the centre of a powerful and intelligent information-management system. This has less to do with improvements to iSync, than the updated features of the iApps in to which it plugs in. However, the controller program does have some new tricks up its sleeve.
To take full advantage of iSync, you’ll need to sign up to .Mac – a full membership of which allows you to synchronize information between up to 12 Macs. iSync also saves the changes and updates any new or missing computers and devices the next time they are online.
Back on the desktop, you can now add an iSync option to the menu bar – which can open the application – or just Sync Now for quick access. As with the beta, connecting to devices – Palm PDAs, the iPod and Bluetooth phones are all supported – is simply a case of pressing the Sync button once you’ve added them to the Device List.
Now you can sync your Address Book and iCal with more than one machine. Simply sync your work, home and mobile computers with your .Mac account and you needn’t have different information on each device.
Simplest of all is adding the iPod. All that is required is version 1.2 (or later) of the iPod software and you’ll be able to add the device and back up your contacts and calendar. It’s only a one-way process, however.
Adding the phone to the list depends on the model, but the process is fairly transparent and much simpler than adding a Palm device. This is a bit trickier, as you have to go into the HotSync Manager (make sure you have HotSync 3.0 for Mac OS X installed), and select the iSync Conduit option. Then you have to select the “Enable iSync for this Palm device” check box. If iSync is open, the panel automatically expands to allow configuration of the iCal entries and Address Book contacts to be synchronized with the handheld.
Syncing speed has been improved, and the addition of Safeguard (see left) is a real boon. The Palm device icon appears alongside the .Mac icon in the iSync panel, and you’re ready to roll. Once synced, all addresses show up in the Palm’s Address utility, and the iCal events appear in the Palm’s Date Book app.
You have more control with iSync than the ordinary Palm or phone software, as you can choose which contact or calendar information is synchronized on your device – you can’t do this between a Mac and .Mac though. This is handy if you want to reduce the amount of information transferred to speed up the process or to limit the memory used on your device. It’s a free download, so you won’t lose anything by giving it a whirl. You never know, you might actually get yourself organized.