In these first few days of the iPhone App Store I’ve been spending lots of time getting to know a ton of new apps, like many of you have.  I’ve focused on a lot of ‘productivity’ sort of apps – task managers, voice recorders, password wallets, and similar. Good news is there are some very […]
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Sync Or Swim Soon for iPhone Productivity Apps

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In these first few days of the iPhone App Store I’ve been spending lots of time getting to know a ton of new apps, like many of you have.  I’ve focused on a lot of ‘productivity’ sort of apps – task managers, voice recorders, password wallets, and similar.

Good news is there are some very worthy and impressive programs out there in this category (along with some duds of course).  I’ve already found a number of apps that I enjoy using.  What I’ve also found though is that the vast majority of them are currently working in effect as ‘standalone’ programs – with anything you do with them saving to and remaining only on the iPhone.  On the iPhone where you are unable to access *data* that you store in an application anywhere outside of each individual application, that is. 

This is a huge weakness thus far in these apps.  In fact, it cripples them for me in many cases.  If I spend time entering a number of important sets of login details for web-sites in a password manager app, I need that information to be available to me not just on the iPhone and inside a single app, but back on a laptop / desktop machine and / or via a browser as well.  I need data to be portable / syncable / instantly available wherever I happen to be.

If I create a new task while I’m in a coffee shop that I need to remember later on today, as often happens, I want it to follow me to my laptop later when I can do something about it – not sit only on my iPhone waisplashsyncting for me to look back there in order to remember to act on it.

Anyway, I’m sure you get the gist – with many of these apps, to be truly useful they need to be ‘everywhere’ apps in order to be genuinely useful and  productive.

So far, I’ve found two apps that are lapping the field in this area – OmniFocus for tasks management, and SplashID, a password manager program.  Both of these have got sync working – and working very well indeed – right out of the gate, as soon as they hit the App Store.

I won’t bore you with setup details on each in this post – the notable thing with both of these apps is that they made setup easy, a process that took somewhere around 10 minutes (including the download and installation of companion desktop apps) and worked straight away without a hitch.

Best thing about their sync offerings – they are both wireless!  No need to be USB connected at all.  SplashID is tied to the wireless network, so not going to follow me out into the world, but that’s fine – I can sync whenever I like when at home from the computer or the iPhone. 

OmniFocus is even better in this area – offering a range of sync options including iDisk if you use MobileMe, as I am doing.  I can happily sync from out there at a coffee shop, and find all my tasks consistent back on my laptop as soon as I sit down with it.

Big kudos to both these publishers for getting this so right, so quick.  At the same time, a quick thought for other developers whose apps have not got sync going yet – Hurry Up.  Hurry Up a lot. 

I can appreciate that there may be a stack of good reasons why it is difficult to get sync into a Version 1.0 App Store release, and that Apple is almost certainly not helping or making things easy in this area.  Absolutely I can, and I feel for the developers struggling with this.  But … its just human nature I think that we’re going to work more and more with the programs that are *fully* functional right now, the ones that let us do *everything* we want to do, and get to our data every time we want to get to it.

Even knowing that a developer has promised an update soon, in a few weeks, may not be enough in some cases right now.  Each day that one app is partially crippled by a lack of sync ability, is another day to get to know a competitor app (that can sync) a little better,  To enter a little data into that rival app, and hence get a little more tied to it as well.

Hurry up productivity apps publishers – get desktop/ web / wireless sync going – like yesterday please …

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