Synchronize Your Android Device with Your Mac

good
key review info
application features
  • Quickly backup your contacts
  • (2 more, see all...)

Losing your phone can be a very traumatizing experience to begin with, but not having your data backed up can turn it into a real nightmare. Missing Sync for Android allows you to transfer contacts, call logs, SMS logs, calendars, notes, bookmarks and media content, in an attempt to make your life easier.

Missing Sync for Android represents an alternative solution to using a Google account for syncing your contacts or calendars and it also brings many more features and customization options to the table.

It is essential to mention that Missing Sync for Android does not work with the built-in Android apps: you will have to install and use the Fliq Bookmarks, Fliq Calendar, Fliq Notes and Fliq Tasks apps to get things going.

The installation process offers you a glimpse on how Missing Sync for Android works. On the desktop computer, you will have to install the Missing Sync for Android app, which comes with a 15-day trial period. At the same time, you must download and install 5 Android apps on your device, that are all free.

The desktop installer creates two separate folders in your Applications directory and leaves the Mark/Space Notebook app on its own. The Mark/Space folder includes the Call Log And SMS Log apps. The Missing Sync for Android folder contains the actual application, the documentation and the uninstaller (which will leave behind the Mark/Space folder and the Mark/Space Notebook app). I must say this is not a very elegant approach.

Intuitively, I assumed Missing Sync for Android will simply extract the bookmarks, calendars, notes and tasks from the default Android apps.

In fact, you will have to start using the Fliq applications and only the data stored in those apps will get synced. Missing Sync for Android (which is the fifth app that must be installed on your device) is responsible for the actual syncing.

The Looks

The Missing Sync for Android design does not go outside the usual patterns: a buttons bar on top of the main window provides quick access to most features, while the central area allows you to make the necessary syncing adjustments.

Things get tricky when you see the names of the two main tabs: Plugins and Install. The first time you run the app, you will be able to see the Setup assistant that will help connect your Android device and your Mac, via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Although the assistant provides very useful information, I strongly advise you to also read the online documentation.

Once you do that, you will be able to understand that the “Plugins” are used to sync specific data (depending on which “plugin” is enabled), while the “Install” area allows you to transfer user specified files from your Mac to the Android device. If you want to transfer entire folders, though, you will have to use the Folder Sync plug-in.

The Works

The actual syncing process is quite simple: make sure the Missing Sync for Android is running both on your Mac and the Android device and that there is a USB, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection between the two. The next step is to press the Sync button in both applications, at the same time.

The USB connection is mostly intended for transferring media files, while the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth can be used to sync contacts, call logs and so on. I have tested the application on a Mac running Mountain Lion with an HTC Legend phone using Android 2.2.

The Wi-Fi connection was the easiest to set up and I prefer it, but it will not be effective in all cases. The USB setup requires you to mount the device as a disk drive and to launch the sync process only from the desktop. Of course, you must remember what exactly is synchronized via USB and what not.

I assume the USB connection is useful when you are dealing with large files or collections and you do not want to search them manually. Certain plug-ins (like Music for example) can only be used via USB, which is a bit baffling considering that you can transfer videos via Wi-Fi.

I think the real problem is that the error message you usually receive when the connection fails is too general, and it is the same no matter what caused the issue. The only way to learn what you are doing wrong is by trial and error. That being said, I believe keeping an eye on the Sync History to see exactly what got transferred is a good idea.

To be honest, if you do not have to deal with media files frequently, it is almost not worth learning how to use it. The Bluetooth connection should have been very easy to set up in theory, but I was not able to make it work (transferring files via the OS X Bluetooth manager was not an issue, though): all in all, it was quite a frustrating experience.

Another thing that did not seem to function properly is the Bookmarks plug-in: it was able to sync bookmarks from the computer to the phone, but not the other way around.

The other plug-ins (Calendar, Call Log, Contacts, Folder Sync, Music, Notes, Photos, Podcasts, Ringtones, SMS Log, Tasks and Videos) did not raise any particular problems and seemed to work just fine. Note that you must have your contacts stored on your phone if you want to be able to sync them.

Each plug-in has its own settings panel (double click on the name to access it), which allows you to decide exactly what gets synced. Some of them even allow you to change the synchronization direction: to or from the desktop or the device.

Missing Sync for Android also allows you to use plug-in profiles that will prove useful if you want to keep only certain plug-ins enabled for the Proximity Sync (by default, automatic syncs are launched every hour, if the device is in range), and quickly switch to other settings when you connect via USB, for example.

Missing Sync for Android aims at becoming more than a data transfer utility: it comes with its own data management apps on Android, and also provides custom viewing and editing tools on the desktop side.

The Missing Sync for Android's status bar menu can be used to quickly start syncing or to access some of the applications that help you view your data such as Call Logs or Notebook. Still, some items are simply missing from the list, like the Reminders OS X app (Fliq Tasks syncs to it).

The Good

Missing Sync for Android allows you to keep certain Android and Mac applications in sync and offers you the possibility to backup your contacts, SMS messages and call logs.

The application also provides support for all kinds of media files, extensive sync customization options and includes an easy-to-use ringtone maker.

Once the initial sync setup is done, the processing time will be greatly reduced as the app uses incremental copying. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections also include a Proximity Sync function that will help you make sure the data stored on your device is frequently backed up.

The Bad

As an application, Missing Sync for Android is neither easy to use, nor intuitive or even organized. The error messages are too general and you have to research on your own what you can or cannot do, what connection type is required for each plug-in and so on.

The Bookmarks plug-in does not work properly, the Bluetooth connection seems to have issues, and if you want to sync the events you've already set up in the default Android Calendar app, prepare for disappointment.

Using Missing Sync for Android to transfer contacts brings up a minor inconvenience: since you need to import them first from your SIM card to the phone, your contacts list will suddenly display duplicates.
 

The Truth

Even with the Setup assistant, it is not easy to get the Missing Sync for Android up and running properly.

Furthermore, the app requires quite a commitment: you will have to renounce using the Android built-in apps and start using 3 new ones that can only be backed up or synced using the Missing Sync for Android app.

Of course, it all depends on what you are looking for: thanks to its extensive sync customization options, Missing Sync for Android might be able to solve some of your problems, as long as you are willing to overlook its rough edges.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 3
features 3
ease of use 2
pricing / value 2


final rating 3
Editor's review
good
 
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