Microsoft has officially announced the introduction of Windows Phone Connector for Mac, allowing users to sync media content between an Apple Mac and any Windows Phone 7 phone.
We were originally told at a Microsoft workshop that we could not report on this software, even though there was no logical reason to keep such a big bit of news secret.
Given that everyone at the launch of Windows Phone 7 was told it would work solely with a Windows PC, it seemed to effectively rule out Windows Phone devices being of any interest to people that use a Mac.
Shortly after, they let slip via Twitter that they were working on Mac software. We had to chuckle. According to Apple, one in five new computers sold is a Mac, so that’s quite a sizeable market.
Although the application, which will be released on October 24th, is only in the beta stages at the moment, we have had no issues with it – using it with both an HTC HD7 and HTC 7 Mozart.
What’s nice is that it doesn’t even require you to eject the device afterwards (as with most devices connected to a Mac), allowing it to work more as you’d expect on a PC – and reducing the chance of corrupting the data if you forget to eject (although unplugging your phone while actually synchronising data isn’t advisable!).
Windows Phone Connector is a gateway to existing Apple applications that manage your media, namely iTunes and iPhoto. As a result, you’ll need to be using one or both of these applications. Like using a PC, you cannot drag and drop files on to the device (that’s not a feature offered by Windows Phone 7 devices, just like the iPhone).
As we already use iTunes and iPhoto, it wasn’t a problem. If you don’t, it’s time to start – and you’ll need to import your videos into iTunes (and possibly re-encode them).
For music and photos, and indeed podcasts, setting up the content to synchronise was as easy as managing media with an iPhone. For pictures, you can sync everything, or by individual events – or even names. For music, you can sync using playlists, or choosing individual artists and albums. The same applies for podcasts.
The only caveat is that you can’t sync content with DRM, but almost nothing sold today has any protection – and you’ll also be fine with any content you have ripped yourself. Another problem we had, which will hopefully be fixed by the time it gets to a final-release version, is that it is possible to select too much content to copy over, without being told that it won’t fit – until the space ran out. However, you do get an iPhone-like graphical representation that shows how much content is on the phone, and what it consists of.
When you install the software for the first time, it will install itself in the taskbar and start up automatically when you connect your phone. It can be set to automatically sync, and it will pull new content from the phone and put photos and videos into iPhoto.
Is it good enough to have Mac owners take the plunge and try a Windows Phone 7 phone? Yes. As long as you are aware that it is only for managing your multimedia, and won’t be updating your phonebook or appointments (yet). To keep all of that up to date, you’d be better advised to use a Google account, and sync both your phone and Mac ‘in the cloud’.