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Sync Services Framework (How It Works and What You Can Do)

by Mary Norbury-Glaser
11/04/2005

The Old

With Tiger, Apple introduced a new extensible Sync Services framework embedded into the OS X 10.4 operating system. With a .Mac membership, Tiger users can take advantage of new functionality and features across many applications and across multiple Macs.

In Panther, syncing was handled by the iSync application that, together with an optional .Mac membership, managed Safari bookmarks, iCal, and Address Book over many networked Macs. In Tiger, iSync.app still exists, but now takes the limited role of synchronizing iPod, cell phones, and Palm devices with your Mac.

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Figure 1. /Applications/iSync.app

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Figure 2. iSync.app message

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Figure 3. Adding devices in iSync.app

And The New

Tiger's expanded Sync Services are now accessed through the .Mac pref pane in System Preferences.

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Figure 4. .Mac in Systems Preferences

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Figure 5. Sync tab in .Mac pref pane

The new framework includes synchronizing Mail account settings (including Smart Mailboxes, signatures, and rules) and Keychain items between Macs.

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Figure 6. Computers registered with .Mac

Sync Services is also available to any application, not just Apple programs like iCal and Address Book. Developers have the ability to embed the Sync Services framework into their third-party applications to offer iSync integration and functionality. Syncing preferences can therefore be set within individual applications. In addition to looking at how some Apple apps handle syncing, I'll also include one third-party program that has taken advantage of this: Mark/Space's Missing Sync for hiptop. First, let's get a better feel for the Sync Services architecture.

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