Comments on: Apple Releases iSync v2.1

Apple has released an update version of iSync. iSync v2.1 is Apple's Mac OS X synchronization program that keeps info from select bluetooth mobile phones, Palm OS handhelds, the iPod and the .mac service in sync.
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isync for mac

bquin @ 7/12/2005 4:22:37 PM # Q
I am about to purchase a mac and want to sync it with my Palm T3.
Will this software do it? what about Palm's Mac desktop software? Finally what about the missing sync?

Which does the best job?

...laughing at a world too absurd to take seriously...

RE: isync for mac
james_sorenson @ 7/12/2005 4:50:13 PM # Q
Heh, you posted at the same time as me.

Okay, a quick summary for you.

Palm Desktop: Works great on the Mac with the T3. However, Bluetooth syncing is a tad glitchy, so you probably want to keep the USB cradle handy. The Calendar and Addressbook is separate from Apple's iCal and AddressBook.

Missing Sync: This replaces the Hotsync engine of the Palm Desktop. Works excellent. Easy Bluetooth sync. Easy WiFi sync. Supports Avantgo Sync. Nice install manager. Allows you to share your Desktop internet connection with it.

iSync: This is a "bridge" that makes your T3 sync with Apple's iCal and Addressbook. The advantage is that these programs link up with many other programs on the Mac (eMail and what not). Unfortunately, it is an imperfect sync. It is usable if you use only basic information in your addresses and appointments. Otherwise, you might get a tad frustrated. ;)

Anyhow, MarkSpace of Missing Sync claim they are working on a future solution. My suggestion is to use Missing Sync with Palm's Addressbook and Calendar conduits for now.

Note: If you are an Entourage user, I hear they have some pretty good Mac conduits for that. I've never tried them.

- Jim

James Sorenson

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So...ummmmm...what about FIXING it?

james_sorenson @ 7/12/2005 4:43:36 PM # Q
More supported devices? Woop-de-doo. How about fixing the known, posted bugs about addressbook with Palm? It's atrocious! Phone-types aren't retained. Only Work address syncs. No Category support. Can't set it to overwrite or favor one device over the other, etc.

Even SyncML support would be nice. Palm is still posting bug-fixes and updates (despite their claim of ending support), yet iSync for the Palm is still broken.

I do like Apple, and I like my iBook, but iSync has been a thorn in my side for some time. It is improper to claim "support" of a device if you are not currently providing any support.

Okay....done ranting. Anybody found a solution to this problem, yet?

- Jim

James Sorenson

RE: So...ummmmm...what about FIXING it?
asiayeah @ 7/12/2005 8:39:38 PM # Q
Yes, it's been YEARS that apple has been ignoring the needs of Palm users. As a feature enhancement, I do want to see the support of Treo Contacts' photo synchronizations.

Also the "iSync override device" or "Device override iSync" settings are essential. I still can't figure out the best way to restore my Treo after a hard-reset. If I restore my Treo from the backup databases and then sync again, the iSync may not always work correctly.

Maybe we should all submit our feedback to Apple?

With great power comes great responsiblity.

RE: So...ummmmm...what about FIXING it?
archie@PIC @ 7/13/2005 9:21:51 AM # Q
I agree James. I am not sure why PIC bothered posting this update because there is not one thing that they mention that affects Palm users. Who cares?

Why did you post this update? Tell us how it affects Palm users.

It does, now once again, allow us to activate the sync process by simply pressing the Palm sync button. The updated Tiger version took that away.

Work address and Address Book photo sync has been possible for the last few iterations of iSync, BUT not with the Palm Conduit that comes with Panther of Tiger. It's just that Apple is not going to do Palm any favors, for reasons I won't get into now, so someone needs to write a new conduit for these to be enabled on Palm devices. It is my understanding that Mark/Space is working on this.

RE: So...ummmmm...what about FIXING it?
archie@PIC @ 7/13/2005 9:35:25 AM # Q
On a side note Jim, I just wanted to mention that I love your AppleScript/conduit solution for Shadow Planner and Omni Outliner. There is a new desktop in it's beta stage that now includes tag functionality — Finally! Will you be able to build this into your solution so we can get tags in OmniOutliner?

Props to you.

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Windows WIFI AutoSync

Gekko @ 7/12/2005 6:58:17 PM # Q

I'd like a Windows WIFI AutoSync where as soon as I get within a few blocks of home, my PC/Laptop and all my mobile devices all sync up over WIFI automatically within seconds.

RE: Windows WIFI AutoSync
archie@PIC @ 7/13/2005 10:11:36 AM # Q
That is what Bluetooth is for. Get one of those high-powered Bluetooth dongles. That will give you a range of half a block. There are some that go farther but the distance is just line-of-sight.

Now if Palm would just use a recent bluetooth spec from this decade, we can get those higher speeds, not to mention the other added benefits.

RE: Windows WIFI AutoSync
iain.collins @ 7/13/2005 10:27:38 AM # Q
That would require your laptop and all your mobile devices to have Wi-Fi on all the time, which would reduce their battery life to about 2 hours. In addition, even with direct line of sight, most WiFi solution won't don't have enough power to go over a block and half (and most certainly won't go through a city block).

A more pragmatic solution is something like a background network sync, i.e. whenever you turn you device on your device does a local, background sync, if a wireless network is available.

If you have a .mac account (99 USD per year), this is one of the feature you get as Mac OS X user, my PowerBook does this automatically for example, allowing it to keep in sync with my Mac Mini at home and with my web accessible address book - which I can also make world readable to anyone - with or without a password (it also sync other things like mailbox settings and mail filters, bookmarks, calendar items and even username and passwords for web sites. Address and calendar information syncs to my iPod and Sony Clié PDA and phone when I sync them.

Unfortunately, I know of no other systems (phones, PDAs or other devices) that are capable of this sort of functionality, though theoretically it would be easy.

RE: Windows WIFI AutoSync
cbowers @ 7/18/2005 10:58:29 PM # Q
"That is what Bluetooth is for"

Yes and no. Yes for initiating actions when in proximity of other devices, but not for hotsync. WiFi network hotsyncs are much faster, and you can do them from anywhere in the world where you can associate to an access point. Sure one could say the same about a bluetooth mobile phone link, but not really given the cost and slow link speed.

That said, I see no reason one couldn't write a palm app that would sense proximity to the users desktop via bluetooth, and then initiate a WiFi network hotsync.

The obvious pre-requisites would be that the Palm device have both Bluetooth and WiFi, and if the target desktop is a Mac then Missing Sync is installed as the Mac Palm Desktop doesn't provide Network hotsync.

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palmboy @ 7/14/2005 1:13:03 AM # Q
Thus far, on my Powerbook 17, runnig OS 10.4.1, and Palm Desktop 4.21 (not Rev B), it works great with my T3

Palm is moving it's OS to Linux Base, ala Apple putting it's OS X on the top of Unix... That's what I've read and hear Palm's CEO etc. state in a few PodCastst I heard. Plus, they also kept saying that, even though that they themselves are on Macs, they are not looking to support Mac Customers, since they are under 5%


Apple is not talking about Palm much these days. It's mostly iPod 24/7...

Having heard that Palm Desktop won't be developed, I've looked into alternatives...

Apple's Address Book is not as features rich as PD, Now Contact, or Entourage

On Entourage MVP site I saw a paragraph where it's stated that T3 has some limitations that are specific only to T3 and therefore there are some know bugs!

I also don't trust MSFT, and thus its Entourage... Plus putting all my eggs into one basket with email etc is SCARY

Don't know much about NUDC, Now, which just came out with a new version.

There are few apps that CLAIM to sync Entourage to Address Book, while Palm Desktop is left out of the loop, thus becoming a self-fullfilled prophecy of being a DEAD END:)

If one's needs are simple, Address Book is OK, and, like Apple's Mail, and iCal, it works fine with Spotlight, which is FANTASTIC.

But, one cant's attach Contact to a Task/To Do, or an Appointmen, or Note/Memo... And those Apple apps don't have Notes/Memos that Sync to Palm PDA's

Entourage has all of those, but is not working with Spotlight...

If only Palm updated PD to work with Spotlight and Sync to Address Book and iCal, or and Directly to .Mac, I'd be in heaven!

Thus far it's all a bunch of dots that are poorly connected, if at all...

Apple is iPod ALL THE TIME, Palm is trying to stay afloat via Treo's mostly, and maybe LifeDrive...

Palm is taking over PalmSource, and becoming ONE, like old days...

If all Mac PDA users started a Mac/Palm Site aiming to put pressure on both companies, MAYBE we'd see a little more SANITY in this whole ZOO... UNFORTUNATELY, I don't have the chops to develope such site

MissingSync can't plug in all holes in this PALM/MAC ZOO!

They know little about this at Apple Stores...

PalmOne's Mac Support is PATHETIC!

cbowers @ 7/18/2005 11:04:04 PM # Q
"5%" that will change.

Plus Missing Sync is staying committed to the Mac Palm users. We're not so bad off... It's worse if you're a PocketPC/Windows Mobile/[insert other name of the week] user on a Mac. But then Missing Sync is there to save that day too...

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Lets just cut to the chase..

skeezix @ 7/14/2005 11:24:08 AM # Q
Mac OSX needs a new hotsync manager, not some OS9 hotsync manager patched to work under OSX.

ie: What we have now is a HM that runs, and syncs more or less, but requires conduits written in an OS9-style. In some cases, an OSX application developer cannot feasibly even make a conduit due to both OSX + OS9 dependancies due to this silliness.. quite frustrating.

The result is people have to buy Missing/Sync to get a useful HM, and developers have to write conduits for Missing/Sync (and maybe the painful Hotsync Manager, and for iSync, and SyncML and etc etc.) I really intensely dislike requiring my users to buy Missing/Sync (a very fine, but pricey, product) so instead support the platform as best we can without it.

So Mac users are often left in limbo by developers, which creates a bad rap for everyone. Terrible mess :(


The Shadow knows!

RE: Lets just cut to the chase..
james_sorenson @ 7/14/2005 1:20:48 PM # Q
Greetings, Jeff! Sorry I'm late with the OmniShadow plugin....the military has prevented me from having a free weekend for 5 weeks now!

In any case, the problem is that we are in Limbo! Remember when Apple announced OS X and started pumping out betas? How much new software was being developed for the Mac, then? Practically NOTHING! That's because it is financially-damaging to put developing dollars towards an OS that is being retired. However, there aren't any tools (or timeline) to develop for the new stuff. So, the most sensible thing to do is develop for the other platforms while you keep an eye on what's coming around the corner.

I applaud PalmSource's honesty in stating that they are done with the PalmOS. Much as I love it, sometimes you have to drop the legacy-code and go to the next level. However, they have pretty much wounded all PalmOS development until they release the new OS. It's going to be a cold winter.

I'm optimistic. OS X survived the winter and is now doing VERY well (relatively speaking). Who knows? Perhaps PalmSource/Palm will be the first to put out an actually-SUCCESSFUL Linux PDA.

Anyhow, reeling this back to the topic at hand.... ;)
I have a bad feeling that the iSync issues will continue until the new PalmOS is released. At that point, Palm, Apple, or MarkSpace will build from scratch. There is no point in rebuilding iSync for a retired OS. (But is it really that hard to just add the Categories, Custom, and Birthday fields? Come ON!)

- Jim

James Sorenson

RE: Lets just cut to the chase..
cbowers @ 7/18/2005 11:10:58 PM # Q
I tend to agree with most of that. Not much point for rebuilding until Palm/PalmOne and PalmSource/[whatever the new name will be] get on the same page with PalmLinux.

But yes some bug fixes could certainly be done. But there are some obvious complicators. The Mac's addressbook could be more functional... And it supports multiple groups per contact so syncing that to one of 15 Palm categories isn't going to work. I've lived with the category thing long enough I'm not sure I'd even want them synced anymore. I use the categories entirely differently on the desktop and on the Palm.

It's also likely a mistake to try (at this point) to rely on iSync and the Palm Conduits for post hard reset restore. There is no substitute for BackupMan like scheduled backups to SD. Why rely on slow buggy hotsyncing for a full restore? In 2 minutes with an SD card restore you're up and running again with no fuss. I gave up hotsync restores years ago. In 1999 it was restore from CF on a TrgPro, then either SD or CF on the HandEra 330, now BackupMan with SD on a Tungsten C.

The only thing I rely on Hotsync for is to share data between devices and places. Each app and each device has it's own set of abilities in terms of data format, and for that I find iSync does a minimal but acceptable job.

I do use MissingSync, in part because Palm's Hotsync Manager died one day (only for my profile), and it was just easier to leave it behind than trouble shoot it. Also in part for the Network hotsync, and in part for the SD card Finder mounting (I Rsync copies of my SD card to the desktop periodically.)

But it's just nice to dock my Bluetooth phone, iPod, Palm, and .mac account in iSync and let them all share data.

They don't all get all categories, and I'm glad iSync gives that level of control.

I really can't say that I have any issues the bug me with the setup on a daily basis. They don't all share 100% of the data but I don't expect them to. I don't have any data loss, or hickups. It just works. I would like it if it worked a little faster, but I'll take slow and problem free (for my uses) or faster and buggier I guess.

The other aspect of my mindset I guess is that I use my PDA as a primary and stand alone data source. The fact that it can easily share some of it's data with the rest of my setup is gravy. But I don't expect every data field to be on the desktop for desktop side use. I use the desktop for other things. If I want to use that data, I use it on the PDA, even when at my desk (which could really be anywhere as my "desktop" is a PowerBook). I can see how this would be a stumbling block for those still trying to use the desktop as a mirror, or a hotsync restore source. It's very freeing to give that up though. It's just not currently achievable, and even if it were, it's too slow and kludgy compared to the alternative (restores are done from SD, period)

You still hotsync often, and make backups of your card content to safeguard from dataloss due to catastrophic loss of device or card...

And having said all that, anyone can write an iSync conduit. There's nothing saying only Palm and Apple have to write the middleware. Any of us could write a more capable sync layer to plug into iSync. You still have to deal with the dissimilarities of end device features/abilities. And as has been said, perhaps MissingSync is going there...

Why won't Palm include backup application in the ROM???
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 7/19/2005 12:27:57 AM # Q
There is no substitute for BackupMan like scheduled backups to SD. Why rely on slow buggy hotsyncing for a full restore? In 2 minutes with an SD card restore you're up and running again with no fuss. I gave up hotsync restores years ago. In 1999 it was restore from CF on a TrgPro, then either SD or CF on the HandEra 330, now BackupMan with SD on a Tungsten C.

Amen to that! I still can't understand why the he11 a backup app isn't standard on every PDA. This omission is inexcusable. Palm could probably licence BackupMan (the best backup app around) from TRG/HandEra's Mike Waldron for $1/license. And for the love of God, when will they finally license apps like TealLock, DiddleBug (freeware) and The Core Pocket Media Player (freeware)?

$30 million to drop "One" from the company name, who knows how many more millions to change the Palm logo and they can't spent a few bucks making their PDAs actually FUNCTIONAL? Pathetic.


Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.

The Palm Economy = Communism™
The Great Palm Swindle:

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