At home on your Apple iPad, you work with a video clip, a report, or a PowerPoint presentation. Later, you are in the office and want to refine your work on your desktop PC. While possible, the task is far from simple, in many cases.
Given its nascent stage of development, it is not surprising that moving information from a tablet to another device can be cumbersome. After all, a lot of underlying components need to be put in place in order for data to freely move from one system to another.
Yet, transmitting data from a tablet to another system is quite common. Close to two thirds of users rely on at least one other device (usually a laptop or PC) in addition to their tablet for their information needs, according to market research firm The Nielsen Co.
The process of moving information is kludge for a number of reasons. When tablets emerged, many expected them to be used mainly for content viewing. Increasingly though, users now rely on tablets to create as well as to view content, noted Drew Garcia, Vice President of Product Management at SugarSync Inc. So the desire for simple data transfer tools is increasing, and the market is evolving to meet that goal.
The challenge of simplifying the process starts with the physical connection. Traditionally, users rely on flash drives and USB ports to move information from system to system. This option is available with Android tablet systems, but the iPad lacks a native USB connection. Instead, users have to rely on the iPad Dock and Charger to connect a flash drive to an iPad.
Once it is possible to physically move data from one system to another, users need tools to ensure compatibility at the application level. Vendors have built solutions to synchronize data stored on various devices. Cisco Systems Inc. sells Network Magic. With the product, tablets and desktop or laptop devices share Internet connections, printers and files. The software controls access to the Internet and tracks online activity with remote desktop screenshots.
SmartSync Software Inc. developed SmartSync, which features a step-by-step wizard that helps users set various synchronization options, such as coordinating file folders or email messages. The product highlights new, modified and deleted files as well as any file conflicts.
Botkind Inc’s Allway Sync works with a variety of file systems: FAT, NTFS, SAMBA, Netware, X-Drive, CDFS, and UDF. The software can synchronize information residing in more than two folders.
In addition to device level synchronization solutions, vendors have taken to the cloud to help users coordinate file movement. Some of the services started off as storage or backup solutions but have become more sophisticated, tracking changes in real time, so users work with updated information.
Box has focused on the business market and claims that 120,000 corporations have deployed its service. To prevent data tampering, the company relies on 256-bit SSL encryption whenever information is transferred and 256-bit AES when information sits at rest. The vendor supports SSAE 16 Type II reports, and its data centers include biometric entry authentication and 24/7 armed guards.
Founded in 2007, Dropbox allows people to view documents, photos, and videos in a browser. The synchronization supplier, which claims to have 50 million customers, also features a mobile API that let users or vendors integrate Dropbox’s file access and syncing capabilities into their mobile apps.
SugarSync Inc., in business since 2008, works with shared folders, so changes made by one team member are automatically synced to others on the team. If questions arise, SugarSync keeps the previous five versions of a user’s documents for reference.
TransMedia developed Glide Operating System (Glide OS), which is designed to connect a user’s Windows PC, iPad, and Android system and create a synchronized file directory. Glide OS consists of more than twenty online applications, including an office suite, email client, micro-blogging service, publishing platform, and Internet search client.
Apple bundles its iCloud client software on all of its devices, including the iPad. The service, which has a consumer emphasis, provides users with access to music, movies, apps, photos, and documents. It keeps email, contacts, and calendars up to date across all of the devices.
EMC Corp’s Mozy system, another consumer focused service, started out as a file backup service but was enhanced in the spring of 2011 with data synchronization functions. With Mozy, users can browse files or search for a specific file from any device and email files or photos to and from their tablet.
Tablets are growing in use and becoming a key business productivity tool. Consequently, the need for tools to move files gracefully from one system to another is rising, and solutions are steadily evolving.