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iSync update: beware

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Apple's iSync software needs a health warning: use at your peril.

The long-anticipated release supports a host of new phones for the first time. However, from investigating the issue, it's clear that a wider beta program could have caught many of the more trivial, but deadly bugs, and better documentation is needed.

This iSync can lose real data. In some cases, it's possible that contacts without phone numbers will be lost on the handset.

We haven't been able to get a connection to our SonyEricsson P800 at all, and this is not uncommon for models with early versions of the ROM. (Synchronising with the 3650 worked just dandy).

In other cases, poor documentation is to blame. For example, it's well known that the connectivity software uses port 3004. Apple should have notified users to turn off the Mac OS X firewall.

We've also learned one vital tip. You can export all your P800 contacts quickly and easily into the Apple Address Book by choosing "Send this folder" from the P800 contact book, and importing the resulting vCard file (it's one big file) on your Mac. (This doesn't appear to preserve photographs, unlike Apple's official iSync, but it is a rapid backup).

Judging by the speed with which these issues were found, it's clear that these would have been caught early by a wider beta program.

A few of us have noticed that sending SMS text messages or receiving calls from the Mac is no longer possible. These are bonuses.

Those of us who've kept our primary phone book on a PDA or phone, rather than on a personal computer, for years know how much preserving the integrity of this data matters. Let's hope a patch, and a stepwise guide, is issued real soon now. ®

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