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April 26th, 2011

When Apple unveiled Macintosh OS X in 2001, the only “iDevices” were iPods. There were no iPhones and no iPad rentals, but people were using all makes and models of PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants, like Palm Pilots), older and newer iPods, the first external USB drives and laptops. They needed a way to synchronize (“sync”) contacts, files and calendars among all these devices, with their desktop computers being what Steve Jobs called “the digital hub.”

Apple’s iSync- then to now

Synch iPad to Mac computerApple’s first solution was iSync, released solo in 2003 before being added to OS X 10.3 (Panther) in October of that year. If you were using CRE’s Mac computer rentals then, you kept everything from files to phone numbers updated with iSync. But iSync started getting bloated and buggy as support was added for huge numbers of devices – smart phones, Palm organizers, Blackberries and various gadgets on the Pocket PC, Windows CE or Windows Mobile platforms. By 2005, data syncing was moved from iSync to the OS itself, and iPod syncing was taken over at mid-year by iTunes 4.8.

Paradigm shift in sync services

By late 2009, with the release of iSync 3.1 and Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), the bulk of iSync’s original functionality had been absorbed by the Sync Services framework, Apple code that enables developers to build syncing into their programs. Ongoing refinement has brought us to where we are today, with all syncing – iPods, iMac rentals, smart phones, laptops – now taking place in iTunes exclusively. In fact, syncing with iTunes lets you manage project files among multiple devices, people and locations.

Of course, with the advent of the cloud the whole notion of syncing files by duplicating them among devices is silly. It is also inefficient, and tracking changes is a challenge. Now, with such low- and no-cost services as Zumodrive, you store a single set of files on a password-protected, encrypted network server and access them from your other devices – smart phones, tablet PC rentals or an Internet cafe computer in Vienna. It’s a simple and elegant solution.

Customized (and simple) apps

Evernote, Zumodrive and other cloud-based apps typically support such common “work file” formats as Word’s .doc format, .pdf, .txt, .jpeg and other image files. Along with various dedicated PDF readers/editors, including freebies, they allow markup and comments. Establish a few simple rules for the people using these files – name, date and markup guidelines – and you have a simple, straightforward “remote workflow.” Don’t complicate things.

CRE can help you keep things simple as well as secure. If you already know what you need, use our Quick Rental Quote form. Need some help with deciding? Call or e-mail an experienced Account Executive about remote workflows, cloud-based services, production support, digital media management – even office equipment rentals! We can help you see the forest and the trees, and chart a route to the right destination.

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