SugarSync app for iPhone: what Live Mesh for Mobiles should be?

SugarsynciphoneWhen I gave SugarSync a review earlier in the year, I was mostly impressed. This online file synchronization service offers cross-platform support and is drop-dead simple to set-up and use. While I’m still waiting for a file revision history function, the folks at SugarSync aren’t standing still. Today they launched a SugarSync application for the iPhone and it offers quick access to any files or folders you store on the service. SugarSync advertises the app as having "push-synchronization", but in my opinion that’s not entirely accurate. To me, this would mean new data I sync from a PC to the SugarSync server would automatically get pushed down to my iPhone. That’s not the case here, based on the press release (emphasis added by me):

"SugarSync for iPhone uses Sharpcast’s powerful push synchronization technology to quickly access files over the air. SugarSync works seamlessly across multiple computers so people can easily navigate to any of their devices to view Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files, as well as photos. The files are synced to the iPhone over the air on demand, and stored in a temporary cache whose memory size is maintained automatically so that files viewed on the go use minimal memory on the iPhone."

To be honest, I’m not even sure I’d want full push synchronization withmy iPhone. I can store a bunch of data in the cloud, but my iPhone onlyhas 8 GB of storage, most of which is used for music and video. Regardless of semantics, I kicked the tires of the new application this morning and it works well. I can get at all of the files on my UMPC, PC and MacBook Pro. If a file type isn’t supported for viewing on the iPhone, you can only send the file to someone via e-mail; that’s not a SugarSync limitation of course, that’s an iPhone limitation in terms of file format support. You can view Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF files and photos for example, but I can’t view an RTF I have on the server.

While you could just use your browser for all of the same functionality, the new iPhone app is well polished and offers a nicer interface. The ring of computers reminds me of Microsoft’s Live Mesh approach, in fact. Currently Live Mesh for mobiles is only available through a web client, so we’ll have to wait and see how a dedicated client looks. You can find SugarSync’s iPhone program right in the App Store and it’s a freebie. Bear in mind that SugarSync is not free: accounts start out at $25 annually for 10 GB of storage.

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