While Android moves closer and closer to world domination, there is still one very important place it’s lacking: syncing to your computer. There is a void that needs to be filled here by Google, because at the moment Android phones come with no desktop software to do things like sync your calendar, address book, music, and photos (aside from syncing to your Google account). SyncMate, an Android app with accompanying Mac desktop software, hopes to fill that void for OS X users.
SyncMate is an app that allows you to do everything mentioned above and more. Some of the other features include bookmark and folder sync, SMS management, view call history, and the ability to mount your Android device as a drive on your Mac. Let’s see how it measures up!
The first thing to note is that there are two programs you need to download: the Android app, which you can get from the Android Market, and the Mac app, which you can get here (choose to download the free app).
Once you install the app, you can activate the “Expert” version by going to SyncMate > Upgrade to Expert edition. You can then purchase a code for $40 to activatee all of the features. This will unlock some previously mentioned features for you such as iPhoto and iTunes sync, Bookmark Sync, and the SMS Manager and Call History. You can view a full list of features here. In this review, I’ll be talking about Syncmate Expert.
There are three ways to use SyncMate with your Android device: USB, Bluetooth, and Wifi. Of the three connections, USB seems to work the best. I couldn’t get Wifi working after a good amount of troubleshooting, and when I tried to pair via Bluetooth, the app crashed on me. This could just be an issue with my computer, of course.
To pair via USB, open Syncmate on your device and make sure Syncmate is ON and USB Sync is allowed. Then, open up SyncMate on your Mac and choose Add Connection, then select Android from the list of devices. Make sure your device is plugged in and Debugging Mode is turned on (Settings > Applications > Development > USB debugging). Once you do this, choose USB from the dropdown box for Connection Type, name your device whatever you want to name it, and click Finish. Your device is now paired with SyncMate.
With Syncmate, you can sync the following information with your phone: Address Book, iCal, Safari Bookmarks, iPhoto, iTunes, and Folders. Each of these is referred to as a “plugin,” and each of these plugins allows syncing both ways. To sync any of them, check off the plugin you want, and configure it the way you’d like.
When syncing Contacts or iCal the first time, I would recommend clearing the the info on your Mac and doing a one-way sync from your device to your Mac. I was unfortunate enough not to do this, and I now have to manually fix my contacts and calendars.
I found the syncing to be pretty slow when it worked at all, and I wasn’t syncing too much data. I also found the media (iPhoto and iTunes) syncing to be a bit lacking.
When syncing from iPhoto to phone, things were just fine. However, going from phone to iPhoto resulted in each photo being added individually, creating an event for each photo. Not so bad if you only have one or two — but I didn’t, and again, had to intervene and do something manually. I’d recommend syncing your photos to a local folder, or using the iPhoto importer.
For iTunes, you can select playlists, but it just syncs the music without leaving the playlist intact on your phone. It’s better than nothing, but I’d like to see playlist support on the phone itself. Syncing bookmarks (and folders) worked as expected, and are both great features, especially if you need to remember those websites you came across while surfing the net on your phone.
To me, the other plugins are the best part of SyncMate. The SMS Reader, SMS Manager, Calls history, and Mount Disk are a great way to view your phone’s activity and information on your computer.
My favorite feature of the entire app is the SMS Manager. You can view all of your text messages (orgnaized by contact), mark them read, and send texts from your phone. I’ve been looking for a good solution for texting from my computer, and this proves to be the best.
The SMS Reader (also available in the free version), provides you with a list of your text messages in chronological order, but only by number, not by contact’s name. If you have the Expert version, you don’t need to use the SMS Reader at all, as everything there plus much more is in the SMS Manager.
Similarly, the Calls History lets you view and manage your call history. The best part about this plugin is that you can add any unknown numbers to your contacts from here, and it will automatically sync with your phone.
The Mount Disk feature will mount both your phone and SD card as drives on your Mac. This happens automatically without SyncMate, and while this is a nice feature to include, I find it to be much slower than mounting the disk without SyncMate.
All in all, this app has some nice features, but I think it needs some work. I had a pretty frustrating time with my contacts and getting it to sync via Wifi (which I still haven’t figured out). I also had to uninstall and reinstall the desktop app to get everything to work properly. The contact sync also tends to take a long time, and I’m not sure where the hang-up is.
Make sure you add the phone as an Android device. SyncMate will automatically detect USB devices unless you turn that feature off. If you add the phone as a USB device instead of an Android phone, you won’t be able to sync contacts or iCal, or to use the SMS Reader, SMS Manager, or Calls History.
Syncing iPhoto to the device is great, but I will still use the iPhoto uploader for syncing from the device until the “one at a time” method of adding photos is addressed. Finally, there needs to be a way to sync playlists with the device and iTunes. Adding songs is a nice feature (especially if you have no other means to do so), but keeping the playlists intact would be a much better feature.
Keeping all of that in mind, The SMS Manager and Call History are good enough to make me stick with the app for the long haul. Plus, if you don’t use Google for everything like I do, Contacts and iCal sync are a great way to keep your phone and computer in sync without relying on the cloud!
Sync your Android device with your Mac. This special Android module of SyncMate will help you sync your Android device with a Mac via Wi-Fi, USB or Bluetooth. You can synchronize contacts, calendars, folders, Safari bookmarks, iTunes and iPhoto; mount your Android as a new volume on a Mac, manage your text messages (SMS) conveniently and more. Definitely worth it for the SMS Manager and Call History features.6