Friday, July 6, 2007

iPhone Sync With Multiple Computers

The tech reviews haven't covered it and I can't find any mention of it on Apple, TUAW, Digg or Google. But rest assured fair readers and would-be buyers... you CAN sync the iPhone with multiple computers! At least sort of.

Most of us have a computer at home and a computer at work. Many of us, like myself, use our home computers for entertainment (i.e. music, photos and videos) and our work computers for work (i.e. contacts and calendars). This is where the iPhone comes to the rescue with its nary mentioned feature: you can sync your content on one computer and sync your calendar, contacts and email on another computer.

The first day I got my iPhone (OK, I mean the first day I could use it after a 50 hour activation process) I synced my music, videos and photos from my Windows PC at home. The next day when I got in to work I plugged my iPhone into my PC at work to see what would happen. When I looked at all the tabs for the different kinds of stuff to sync, none of the boxes were checked and iTunes did not warn me about the phone having been "synced from another computer".

Hoping for the best I went to the "Info" tab and checked the boxes to sync my Contacts and Calendars. In addition, and this is the tricky part, I scrolled to the bottom and checked the boxes for Contacts and Calendars under the "Advanced" section where it says "Replace information on this iPhone". This cool little feature copies all of your information to the phone so that subsequent syncs will go smoothly. From that point on I have been able to sync my new music, videos and photos at home and sync my calendar events and contacts at work.

What I have NOT tried is playing with the other combinations of syncing data. Could you perhaps sync podcasts from work for your drive home, but sync your music at home where you keep it? Sadly I've have not tried cross platform syncing either. I have an aging Powerbook G4 that is running OS X 10.3, not quite new enough to sync with the iPhone. And I'm not likely to plop down the cash for Tiger unless someone confirms that I can seamlessly sync with my Mac and my PC for two different kinds of content.

So there you have it, go forth and sync. And if you haven't bought an iPhone because you don't want to spend all weekend burning CDs just to have your music on your computer at work, don't worry, you won't have to.