Since it was introduced, iSync has been the iTunes of the office world: millions of users entrusted it with precious data, used it on a daily basis and marveled at its ability to leave manufacturer-provided applications in the dust. Sure, iSync had its occasional fits but, all in all, it turned out to be a great companion, a faithful assistant, standing at our side daily.
From day one, the iSync interface has struck everyone by its awesome simplicity and the Apple website became full of brushed-metal buttons,
iSync, to signify an area of brushed metal bliss was upon us.
With the release of Tiger however, brushed metal was politely kicked in parts that shall remain nameless on the O’Reilly Network and iSync was thanked for its hard work: .Mac synchronization was removed from its interface, iTunes took over iPod synchronization and the whole synchronizing thing went haywire.
Providing users with seamless web based synchronization is a good idea and a sound feature, for sure: go into your web browser, click on a button and poof, your bookmarks are synced with a remote computer. Open Address Book and boom, your contacts fly all by themselves to the phone nearby.
This, however, is nowhere near where we stand today. As far as I can tell, almost only Apple applications master the art of synchronizing and developers don’t seem overly hot on the idea to build new preferences for that stuff to take place. Now, I don’t really blame them given synchronization is tied into .Mac, an excellent but only mildly popular service. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily as it has the advantage of providing users with a standard “landing ground” for data, so to speak, and alleviates much administrative pressure. It means however that until Apple can attract almost all its Mac OS X users to .Mac and provides assurances regarding the security of transfers to the .Mac servers, there will be little incentive to provide such a feature.
With synchronization out of iSync’s dying walls, things are at times highly confusing. Remind me why Safari attempts to connect to configuration.apple.com every time I toy around preferences while the .Mac preferences pane does just the same? Do I really need two interfaces to the same feature? Worse, should I not be interested in synchronizing anything, do I really need to see the same empty box twice?
I’m sure Apple has great plans for synchronization and that they should soon bear fruits. In the meantime however, we’re all a bit stuck into the gray area of transition.
iSync, I miss you already.