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Apple investigating 'Grab & Go' simplified cross-platform sync

post #1 of 34
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Apple could make the transferring of files between devices like Macs, iPhones and the Apple TV simpler with a new cross-platform, cloud-integrated sync service.

In a system described in a new patent application revealed this week, Apple has worked on a software syncing system that would give users great flexibility in deciding which files to share between devices, all while aiming to simplify the process of syncing. The described method would not only take personal files, but content within specific applications, allowing users to continue their current activities no matter where they are and what device they are using.

In the application, Apple said that current sync methods are needlessly complex.

"Though a user may have access to two similarly capable electronic devices, sharing data between the two devices may involve a number of steps, each of which may vary in difficulty," the application reads. "The process of transferring data between the devices may include many user decisions, such as which data to save, where the data is saved, which formats each device may be capable of processing, how to interconnect the devices for a most effective data transfer, etc. Such complexity may increase the difficulty or time spent transferring data between two electronic devices.

The patent application includes references to a number of devices that could be used in sync, including a Mac, iPhone, Apple TV, Apple Remote, and a video game controller that resembles that of a Playstation. The described system could share Safari bookmarks, iTunes content, Time Machine backups, Keynote presentations, or even video game file saves.

Syncing of files could take place between a number of hardware types as well, in a wireless method between an iPhone and an iMac, or between two iPhones. The massive, detailed, 84-page application presents a number of potential sync combinations between two and three devices.



The system could also integrate the Web in its storage, keeping data on the "cloud" and allowing it to be pushed to numerous devices.

The described system includes software that would allow users to "grab" files from each system easily. One such example is a potential iPhone application tentatively named "Grab & Go."



Device preferences configurable by the user would allow for application content and files to be sorted by type. Users could select whether they want to sync software for family, business, entertainment, gaming media, education, accounting and more.

Such a system could allow users to revisit Web sites they recently accessed on another device. For example, the Safari Web browser's history, bookmarks and recent searches could be shared between a Mac and an iPhone.



The filing with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office suggests a scenario where a user is sitting at their desk working on a document, when they are called into an unexpected meeting. While the user may have a number of personal applications running, they would only want to bring their work-related content with them. The preferences would allow the user to "grab" only files and data related to work from the computer.

Another example has a person listening to music on their computer at home. That person might need to go into work, but would want to continue to listening to music on a train on the way to the office. The preferences would allow the user to easily choose not to "grab" files from personal finance, or whatever keywords the user may have chosen.

The "simplified data transfer" method is also said to dynamically adapt to the fastest available connection, and provide security methods. The software would decide whether to connect using the Internet, or to use encryption schemes, or to require a specific proximity to the hardware when syncing. It would also keep a list of "trusted" devices with which to share.



Apple has already stepped into the growing cloud-based sync market with its MobileMe service. However, this described system, applied for on Sept. 30, 2008, would clearly expand that capability much wider.
post #2 of 34
Looks quite promising. I already rely on MobileMe quite heavily.
post #3 of 34
I wish they'd start by making it possible to sync my iPod Touch wirelessly. It would be nice if it could just see my Mac on my home network and sync any new music/podcasts etc.
post #4 of 34
The fact that it includes new iPhone applications and that it relies heavily on cloud computing when Apple is building that big server farm, makes this seem much more concrete than some of the other patents that go by.

I would expect this to be one of the features of the next gen iPhone maybe.
post #5 of 34
Anything has got to be better than the current sync system.
post #6 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

I wish they'd start by making it possible to sync my iPod Touch wirelessly. It would be nice if it could just see my Mac on my home network and sync any new music/podcasts etc.

Yeah, it's high time for this. Maybe this coming june with the iphone os 4.0. I suspect beside the technical issues (and apple is absolutely right in rolling out the iphone platform in a steady piecemeal way instead of the vapourware promises of m$) there is the issue that apple want you to charge your phone or ipod as often as you can (so battery issues are not augmented and a whole snowstorm of we don't have enough battery users begins), and by having you stick it to the computer to sync it they "force you" so to speak to have a modicum of charging time for the pod/phone.

These are all very exciting news btw. With the tablet the over the air/cloud syncing will be all the more important as it will be a device with built in wifi/3g/bluetooth relying much much more on cloud than local storage. And in the tablet the issue will be not to drag around your files/books/music library with you on the slim limited gb device but to be able to quickly and with minimal data corruption access them over the air anywhere. So say you are commuting you might remember a paper you have on your mac/cloud you want to read, or a book you downloaded: pop you access the cloud and there you have it.

That is also one of my main gripes from mobileme how I can't natively have it sync with certain folders on each mac. That is not have me either manually or with a 3rd party app sync the local folder with the idisk, but have the idisk like itunes nowadays monitor these folders and sync them automatically. This is also overdue and much needed.

But I prefer they get all these absolutely right than rushing them to the market with bugs. In any case we as apple users are well ahead in such facilities than pretty much every other platform that a steady pace and not rushing things wont cost that much.
post #7 of 34
Why would I want to sync my AppleTV via the cloud? The AppleTV resides on the same gigabit subnet as iTunes here on my home network. What would be the benefit of uploading hundreds of gigabytes of data up into the cloud, only to have to pull the data back down to the AppleTV? What about the usage cap my ISP places upon my internet connection?
post #8 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple could make the transferring of files between devices like Macs, iPhones and the Apple TV simpler with a new cross-platform, cloud-integrated sync service.

Apple could make the transferring of files between devices like Macs, iPhones and the Apple TV simpler with better P2P software. Avoid the cloud.
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post #9 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Looks quite promising. I already rely on MobileMe quite heavily.

Me too, Quad. I'm very happy with MobileMe. It's great for keeping my Contacts, Email, links, etc. sync'd with my 3Gs, iMac and Laptop. I look fwd to continued improvements in the service.
post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Looks quite promising. I already rely on MobileMe quite heavily.

I couldnt do without it, but there are some things in this patent that I wish were already here. Things I would have expected to be here by now. h well, maybe next year.
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post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post

Yeah, it's high time for this. Maybe this coming june with the iphone os 4.0. I suspect beside the technical issues (and apple is absolutely right in rolling out the iphone platform in a steady piecemeal way instead of the vapourware promises of m$) there is the issue that apple want you to charge your phone or ipod as often as you can (so battery issues are not augmented and a whole snowstorm of we don't have enough battery users begins), and by having you stick it to the computer to sync it they "force you" so to speak to have a modicum of charging time for the pod/phone.

These are all very exciting news btw. With the tablet the over the air/cloud syncing will be all the more important as it will be a device with built in wifi/3g/bluetooth relying much much more on cloud than local storage. And in the tablet the issue will be not to drag around your files/books/music library with you on the slim limited gb device but to be able to quickly and with minimal data corruption access them over the air anywhere. So say you are commuting you might remember a paper you have on your mac/cloud you want to read, or a book you downloaded: pop you access the cloud and there you have it.

That is also one of my main gripes from mobileme how I can't natively have it sync with certain folders on each mac. That is not have me either manually or with a 3rd party app sync the local folder with the idisk, but have the idisk like itunes nowadays monitor these folders and sync them automatically. This is also overdue and much needed.

But I prefer they get all these absolutely right than rushing them to the market with bugs. In any case we as apple users are well ahead in such facilities than pretty much every other platform that a steady pace and not rushing things wont cost that much.

Great suggestions! Especially the Folders idea. I now have iDisk on my iPhone but it is terribly slow on my iMac and sometimes not all the sub-folders 'make it' to the iDisk.
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

I wish they'd start by making it possible to sync my iPod Touch wirelessly. It would be nice if it could just see my Mac on my home network and sync any new music/podcasts etc.

I'd like that too. One less cable on my desk!
post #13 of 34
Looks very interesting, but have they actually gotten the regular cloud to work right yet?
post #14 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by camper View Post

Why would I want to sync my AppleTV via the cloud? The AppleTV resides on the same gigabit subnet as iTunes here on my home network. What would be the benefit of uploading hundreds of gigabytes of data up into the cloud, only to have to pull the data back down to the AppleTV? What about the usage cap my ISP places upon my internet connection?

If the features are going to be available to other devices might as well make them available to the AppleTV too. Also, if you've got so many movies that you can't store them all on your AppleTV, this could make it much easier to retrieve one for an unexpected viewing.
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post #15 of 34
I hope they keep pursuing this. I don't see what the cloud has to do with it though.

What I really want is a simple way of getting content on my computer to the TV. I should be able to wirelessly share my computer screen with the AppleTV for instance. That would be enormously game changing for the AppleTV, and it seems like it'd be a simple thing to do.
post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by camper View Post

Why would I want to sync my AppleTV via the cloud? The AppleTV resides on the same gigabit subnet as iTunes here on my home network. What would be the benefit of uploading hundreds of gigabytes of data up into the cloud, only to have to pull the data back down to the AppleTV? What about the usage cap my ISP places upon my internet connection?

Some examples…
— Having your bookmarks auto-synced for when Safari for AppleTV goes live.
— You rented a movie on the AppleTV the night before but had to leave in a rush and didn’t get it finished. You could sync it to the cloud and then to your MacBook or iPhone if you were not at home.
— Have basic settings and password information saved to the AppleTV the way iTunes saves your iPhone/Touch setup or the way MM saves all your user settings. If you ever get a new AppleTV in the future you would just put in your MM account info and then choose the setup from MM account.

Of course, the AppleTV needs to ad a lot more stuff to make this viable.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

Looks very interesting, but have they actually gotten the regular cloud to work right yet?

It works. MM got a bad name from that initial launch crisis from opening it up to everyone at once, but it works. Could be a lot faster, though.
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post #17 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Me too, Quad. I'm very happy with MobileMe. It's great for keeping my Contacts, Email, links, etc. sync'd with my 3Gs, iMac and Laptop. I look fwd to continued improvements in the service.

Me too, but its funny how I (we) take syncing and connectivity completely fro granted. I never think about it and rarely make pro-active moves. I just expect all my data to be synced at all times. I don't expect to see Grab & Go anytime soon but I am glad Apple is showing us that it is taking cloud computing seriously. As clients are getting ever thinner and what with the forthcoming Chrome OS it is easy to see where mainstream computing is heading.
post #18 of 34
Instead of all this fancy-schmancy nonsense, how about Apple start by allowing the iPhone and iPod Touch to operate in disk mode (as they used with the non-touch iPods)!?
post #19 of 34
The Article States
"The "simplified data transfer" method is also said to dynamically adapt to the fastest available connection, and provide security methods. The software would decide whether to connect using the Internet"



Doesn't this imply it would stay on your own network unless you wanted it to sync with the cloud, wifi or bluetooth or any other connection
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post #20 of 34
Does this mean my AppleTV will become a console with another software update??
post #21 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by haney64 View Post

Does this mean my AppleTV will become a console with another software update??

As in a heating console?
post #22 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Instead of all this fancy-schmancy nonsense, how about Apple start by allowing the iPhone and iPod Touch to operate in disk mode (as they used with the non-touch iPods)!?

That kind of freedom ended at Apple with update 1.9.8.4.
post #23 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Me too, Quad. I'm very happy with MobileMe. It's great for keeping my Contacts, Email, links, etc. sync'd with my 3Gs, iMac and Laptop. I look fwd to continued improvements in the service.

I'm happy with it too though it should be free for iPhone buyers at the very least.
post #24 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Instead of all this fancy-schmancy nonsense, how about Apple start by allowing the iPhone and iPod Touch to operate in disk mode (as they used with the non-touch iPods)!?

http://ecamm.com/mac/phoneview/

Works great.
post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by quadra 610 View Post

http://ecamm.com/mac/phoneview/

works great.

$20 ? No thank you.
post #26 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

http://ecamm.com/mac/phoneview/

Works great.

This is very cool. Thanks. I might check it out.

But Apple should be offering the disk mode option for free. Any thoughts on why they don't with the Touch and the iPhone?
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

As in a heating console?

Now that you mention it, the WD HD mediaplayer I wrote about earlier also stays "on." There is an off button, but the unit is always quite warm.
post #28 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Now that you mention it, the WD HD mediaplayer I wrote about earlier also stays "on." There is an off button, but the unit is always quite warm.

Even with the button turned off? I have to go this weekend and look at this thing. I've been wrapped up in baseball here the last 2 weeks.
post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Even with the button turned off?

Yes.

I haven't really tried out any other mediaplayers (most don't do as much as the WD does), so I can't comment on whether they are also warm when off.

1st version

http://wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=572

2nd version

http://wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=735

The whole range:

http://wdc.com/en/products/index.asp?cat=30
post #30 of 34
if this is not dependant on mobileme it could be the coolest update apple has hinted at since the original touch. I think it would be a great idea, if it is independant of a service and possibly something that could be shared between phones, computers reguardless of os, carrier or even cell. Hopefully while they are at it they will open up more sync options for bookmarks, calendars
post #31 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The filing with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office suggests a scenario where a user is sitting at their desk working on a document, when they are called into an unexpected meeting. While the user may have a number of personal applications running, they would only want to bring their work-related content with them. The preferences would allow the user to "grab" only files and data related to work from the computer.

Seems like an example of how a tablet type of device (a.k.a. MacTouch) might be used in the corporate world...
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post #32 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

I wish they'd start by making it possible to sync my iPod Touch wirelessly. It would be nice if it could just see my Mac on my home network and sync any new music/podcasts etc.

+1

In fact I think I'm going to send a note to http://www.apple.com/feedback
post #33 of 34
I'd like our current model to be flipped on its head... I'm not sure whether this might be what they're saying. I don't want my computer life to be tied primarily to a single computer, I'd rather it was tied to a mobileme identifier.

I have files that I want to access whether I login to my MacBook or my iPhone. Photos & Music I want on my iPod/iPhone/MacBook/Gallery.

I want to be able to login to my mother's iMac when I visit (say I forgot my Mac) and have it show MY desktop & documents folders even though I've never logged in there before.... use the iPhone to create a local representation of my iTunes & iPhoto stuff and supply my most recently worked on files and data structure. Use backtomyMac and MobileMe to fill in further detail (on demand), and use a MacAppStore to reinstall applications. I can chose if a Mac will have my full setup, a partial setup, or just a temporary cache.

Essentially, if my MacBook was destroyed I should be able to buy a new one and enter my MobileMe name and within minutes have my desktop in front of me as it slowly resyncs all my data. Conversely, it should also work without MobileMe by using data synced onto other Macs & iDevices & of course TimeMachine backups.
post #34 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post

I'd like our current model to be flipped on its head... I'm not sure whether this might be what they're saying. I don't want my computer life to be tied primarily to a single computer, I'd rather it was tied to a mobileme identifier.

I have files that I want to access whether I login to my MacBook or my iPhone. Photos & Music I want on my iPod/iPhone/MacBook/Gallery.

I want to be able to login to my mother's iMac when I visit (say I forgot my Mac) and have it show MY desktop & documents folders even though I've never logged in there before.... use the iPhone to create a local representation of my iTunes & iPhoto stuff and supply my most recently worked on files and data structure. Use backtomyMac and MobileMe to fill in further detail (on demand), and use a MacAppStore to reinstall applications. I can chose if a Mac will have my full setup, a partial setup, or just a temporary cache.

Essentially, if my MacBook was destroyed I should be able to buy a new one and enter my MobileMe name and within minutes have my desktop in front of me as it slowly resyncs all my data. Conversely, it should also work without MobileMe by using data synced onto other Macs & iDevices & of course TimeMachine backups.

Overhead issues aside (and I only mention it because others will go on about how the overhead required will never allow this), I think this is the future of computing...

Various 'levels' of 'thin clients' that we carry around with us (iPhone, MacTouch, MacBook & MacBook Pro), various 'levels' of 'thin clients' we use at stationary positions (Mac mini, iMac & Mac Pro); all 'feeding' from a single (user-specified) source...

By 'levels', I mean the actual compute power of a given device/computer...

By 'thin client', I mean a device/computer that does not have our entire 'digital life' on it & by 'single (user-specified) source', I mean that one device/computer/account that we have our entire 'digital life' on, be it a machine at the house, a user account/files on a work/school server or out in the 'cloud' somewhere...

And by 'cloud', I just might mean the massive data center Apple is working on in North Carolina...
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