Psion re-commits to Mac

First new Mac sync software in years coming early 2001

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Psion will make a long-awaited upgrade to its MacConnect PDA synchronisation software early next year, the company said yesterday.

The company is also making grudging moves towards USB as a universal connectivity mechanism.

The software, which hooks Psion's Revo, new Revo Plus, Series 5mx and Series 7 handhelds to a Mac, will ship "early 2001", according to Mark Edwards, deputy MD of the company's Psion Computers operation.

Psion developed the original version of MacConnect way back in the days of the Series 3 organiser, but as new models were added to Psion's PDA line-up, the Mac software was increasingly sidelined, and Mac users might well have been forgiven for thinking that their systems weren't supported at all.

Indeed, a year or so back, even Psion admitted that it wasn't really interested in the Mac market.

That has now changed. We suspect the growing sales of Apple machines, plus the now solid Mac support from Palm and Handspring, have brought Psion back into the fold. Edwards, however, pointed out that the main reason for relaunching MacConnect is the imminent arrival of Microsoft Outlook on the Mac, as part of Office 2000.

That allows Psion to synchronise its PDAs' notepad, diary, calendar etc. with Outlook's own, essentially saving Psion the need to write a Mac version of its own Agenda software. That's not much of a positive commitment to the platform, you might think, but at least Psion-using Mac owners will be able to back up their data properly.

Besides, Palm's good Mac software only came about because it bought Claris Organizer, so Psion isn't the only company guilty of wanting to avoid the expense of coding Mac applications.

The timing of the next release of MacConnect neatly coincides with the scheduled release of MacOS X, which is said to contain strong, built-in links to the Palm platform, allowing a connected PalmOS PDA to appear on the desktop as a mounted volume. Edwards would not confirm whether MacConnect will be aimed at MacOS X specifically.

By the release of MacConnect, Psion should also be finally supporting USB, making the physical connection of its PDAs to Macs - and Wintel boxes too, for that matter - rather easier than it is right now. In the case of the Mac, it's pretty impossible since Psion has yet to offer a PC serial-to-USB adaptor. It's working on one for release later this year, by which it can force customers to fork out a further £30. Whether this will be bundled with MacConnect - pretty much essential, you'd have thought, Psion couldn't say. ®

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