Utility software

PocketMac for BlackBerry 4.0

Research In Motion’s BlackBerry is one of the easiest-to-use devices I’ve ever encountered. The BlackBerry is unmatched in its simplicity of doing what it does best—keeping in touch with people via e-mail. Unfortunately, the software that allows you to sync the BlackBerry and your Mac does not work quite as well.

Information Appliance Associates recently updated its PocketMac for BlackBerry sync software to version 4.0, giving the application a complete interface overhaul. The interface now resembles Apple’s iSync, with tabs for the different types of syncing options available. You can also back up your data via a .Mac account.

PocketMac for BlackBerry now includes the ability to copy your e-mail from the device’s Inbox and Sent messages folders to an e-mail application on your computer, an attractive feature for people like me who use their BlackBerry a lot. PocketMac supports Apple’s Mail (   ) and Microsoft’s Entourage (   ) for e-mail syncing, among others. Unfortunately, I had trouble getting my messages copied to my computer.

Contacts are perhaps the most important detail that I sync. I have spent quite a bit of time making sure the information for my several hundred contacts is up-to-date. I want my BlackBerry synced with all of my contacts’ e-mail addresses and phone numbers so I can keep in touch with my contacts no matter where I am.

My first sync using PocketMac 4.0 scared me because it actually deleted some data from individual contacts on my BlackBerry. Some of my stored phone numbers and e-mail addresses were gone. I immediately checked Apple’s Address Book, and thankfully, the information was still there. I tried syncing again, but the information never went over to the BlackBerry.

I then told PocketMac to overwrite the device, hoping it would write all of the needed contact information to the BlackBerry—no dice. It turns out that PocketMac does not like the Work Mobile label in my Address Book and will not sync that field. As soon as I changed the label to Mobile it synced fine, but that’s going to mean a lot of work for me to change that information in my Address Book. I think a message alerting me to possible data deletion is critical in a situation like this.

Another new feature of PocketMac 4.0 is the ability to synchronize Safari Bookmarks. PocketMac installs a Bookmark Manager on the BlackBerry and then copies your Bookmarks—clicking on a link will automatically open the Internet browser on the device.

Calendar syncing works exactly how you would expect. In fact, I was happy to see that even the Google calendars I subscribe to in my iCal application showed up on my BlackBerry.

I talked to the folks at PocketMac about the issues I had with the software and they said they were aware of them and are working with Research in Motion to correct the issues.

Macworld’s buying advice

Overall, PocketMac for BlackBerry 4.0 leaves me wanting more and wanting it to work better. Bookmark and calendar syncing worked well, but I had problems importing all of my contact information and with syncing my e-mail. The effort is certainly there from the software developer, but the implementation and functionality is lacking.

[ Jim Dalrymple is Macworld.com’s news director. ]

PocketMac for BlackBerry offers a number of ways to sync data between your BlackBerry device and your Mac.

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