I’ve dabbled with many phones in the past, but mostly in all this time I’ve begrudgingly kept on with my Windows Mobile phones in the hope they would get better. Well they just did. I’m thoroughly enjoying the new user interface and the way it operates.
Unfortunately in my geography, South Africa, Apple got the jump on us in terms of providing a marketplace and a means to download music to the iPod long before anything we could do with Windows Phone or Zune. In fact, as it presently stands there is no Zune Marketplace available in South Africa. That means I use an iPod, and to exacerbate that I like to fiddle with different systems and have such have been doing so with OS/X Snow Leopard on a MacBook! Although it’s not my primary machine, I do have my media from iTunes nicely configured on it and didn’t really want to lose that hard work.
Fortunately Microsoft recently released the Windows Phone Connector for Mac in public beta so I thought I’d give it a go with my HTC Maestro and see what it does.
The download page at: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=1fe7ea0f-3ad6-4137-8397-d412a3792c33 specifies that it is for “Sync[ing] music, photos, videos and podcasts from your existing iTunes and iPhoto libraries to your Windows Phone 7”.
That seemed suitable for me as all my contacts are stored in Windows Live Messenger, Facebook and, of course, the company Exchange Server. All I needed was my media and so the connector seemed perfectly fit for the purpose I needed it.
After downloading it I set it up. It couldn’t have been easier on the MacBook. After running through the usual Apple set up experience that Mac users have become accustomed to I ran the application. I thought what followed was pretty cool!
The welcome screen provides all the information you need to know and prompts you to connect your phone. In this instance I connected up my HTC Mozart device.
Having already configured my phone I was heartened to see it had recognized my phone had been synced with my Windows 7 system, and let me know that all it wanted to do was sync media. Notice too that as with the Zune and Windows Mobile experience on Windows, the handset picture has changed to show the right device. It's a cheap trick, but it's comforting to know my MacBook realises what is connected :)
The requisite settings dialog appeared allowing me to select the options I needed for my device. I found it useful that I could automatically import my photos from my phone to iPhoto and that it could resize pictures on my system to fit my phone’s screen resolution. These are things I’m used to with my iPod so I was pleased to have them. I found the “Sync music information from the Zune service” intriguing and useful. It’s a nice touch, because Windows Phone 7 handsets are essentially Zune’s too and the way they store album information and covers is different to the iPod. Providing this capability means my phone will still show the relevant information when I use it instead of a bunch of blank pictures and simple MP3 tags.
Of course, syncing my media from iTunes and iPhoto was the critical part of this test. With the exception of DRM content, the Connector Beta does a great job of providing just about every conceivable option. The only playlist I could not sync was the “Purchased” playlist from iTunes, but that was hard as important as my two favorite playlists, namely “Top 25 Most Played” and “My Top Rated”. Those are the two playlists I make use of most. I could also sync specific Genres and/or Artists too.
Last, but not least, I was prompted to select the iPhoto library pictures I wanted to sync. Again, although the interface is a bit different, the choices seem somehow familiar to any iPod user. Selecting by Events, Faces or Albums (all iPhoto components) was possible and as such setting up synchronization for photos was a snap.
In addition it is also possible to use the Connector Beta to browse files on the Windows Phone 7 handset and also to synchronize movies, videos and podcasts.
All in all a great job packaged in a simple piece of software brilliant in its execution. It would be wonderful if DRM content could be synchronized to but I suspect this is a product of the differences in the DRM technology used by Microsoft and Apple and I can’t be sure that it will ever be resolved.
Well done Windows Phone team!
The interface isn't that clean as I thought. With a company as Microsoft, I thought they would create a program with high-standard UI.
It's still a beta, and I think it works well. If anything I think the UI is cleverly designed to be different, but somehow familiar, to iTunes and iPhoto users. It's not running on Windows after all.
I like it.