The problem with sync
Apple's page trumpeting sync services in Tiger makes it sound great:
Sync Services Supplied
Tiger advances the state of the art by integrating intelligent, high-performance sync services right into the operating system. In Tiger, the preferences and controls for what, when and which devices you want to sync appear inside your favorite applications, such as Safari, iCal, Address Book and Mail — including multiple Mail accounts, Mail rules, signatures and Spotlight-driven Smart Mailboxes.
Indeed these features were prominent two years ago when Tiger was making its way to release. It is puzzling then that the state of sync is so poor in OS X. Here's a brief list of the most disappointing:
DotMac - Touted by Apple .Mac sync services may work well for some. However several drawbacks pop up quickly. The most universal would be poor functionality for multiple users. Families have shared contacts and each family member has unique contacts and the two need to be integrated. Failing that a large common, shared address book is important. However .Mac sync while it allows one to "subscribe" to another's address book doesn't cut it when it comes to keeping the 2-laptop, 4-desktop family synced. Not to mention that the .Mac System Preferences pane is painfully slow and combine it with a high-latency (satellite) internet connection and it's just plain unworkable. Other pet peeves: repeated display of the same "conflicts", poor conflict checking and high annual fee.
Spanning Sync - I've already written about the problems and the uninstall of Spanning Sync. While the concept is great the execution just plain didn't work. Here again there seem to be enough people who it works for that perhaps they're making money but spending hours troubleshooting a new program that is supposed to make my life simpler just doesn't cut it. Aside from that with the combination of sharing Google Calendars to iCal for syncing with the local phone and being able to do quick adds via SMS messaging there is little, if any, need for Spanning Sync.
SyncTogether - As a longtime user of the excellent Missing Sync products from MarkSpace I was thrilled to see SyncTogether. Seemingly we now have .Mac sync that actually works. And for those of us with often poor satellite connections to the internet it works locally. I have never been a big believer in paradise in technology but this promises a sync tool from a company that's done them right. Unfortunately it seems that there are plenty of unresolved problems. After a few hours of tinkering, following suggestions and several reloads of backup data I'm still getting an error message that says "Sync failed on server". Both the client and the server instruct the user to see the sync history for more information. The sync history says "see the sync history" for more information. Thanks to SyncTogether for the opportunity to reload the address book and bookmarks it wiped out six times.
Perhaps the next big cat will have a healthier sync system but I'm not in syncing paradise for the time being.