Curse you, iPhone app sync!

| Comments (2) | Gear Outstanding! Software
I'm experimentally trying using a task management app—not planning to do any sort of GTD thing, just looking for a little technical help with keeping track of all the crap I have to do. The general consensus seems to be for either Things or OmniFocus. and somewhat arbitrarily I selected Things: it's cheaper and seems a bit simpler to use. So far it's working fine, and I figured it was time to buy the iPhone app that goes along with it (OF has this as well).

Here's where things start to go off the rails. Once you have the iPhone app, you want it to sync up with the app on your computer: otherwise you have two disjoint systems, which is pretty useless. Unfortunately, it seemms that third party apps apparently can't sync with your computer the way that Apple apps sync, so the vendors need to come up with some hacky network-based scheme. Things' version seems to rely on Bonjour discovery and OF uses a WebDAV server. I don't really want to set up a WebDAV server somewhere and I'm way too paranoid to want to have random apps on my machine talking to random other computers on my network; that's why I have a firewall, after all. So, the bottom line is I'm hosed. A little bit of web searching quickly reveals hordes of people complaining about this (indeed, at least one of the early hits is about Things).

As far as I can tell, this is a basic limitation of the iPhone, but it's not clear to me if it's something Apple really doesn't want you to do or they just haven't gotten around to offering it yet. In either case, it's not very convenient.

2 Comments

If you don't want to run your own WebDAV server, you could use a third-party one. http://chandlerhub.org , for example, is a decent free CalDAV service (CalDAV is a superset of WebDAV).

There is no consensus for syncing non-apple applications.

As a user of things - syncing is the most painful part of using the app. At the very least one would think it would autosync when you sync your iPhone but it doesn't. Things appears to be using Apple's sync tool as well so I am perplexed at why this is so difficult.

I have noticed some apps will use your mobileme account to sync up data but that requires mobileme which is a paid subscription (which I just happen to have). I am hoping that come iPhone OS 3.0 that this gets better. Otherwise I may stop using Things.

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