It’s easy to get branded as a Mac fanboy. I’m not. I just happen to love brilliant tech products, which led me to the Mac. It’s also what led me to purchasing one of those new Windows Phones. If you’re reading this article, I guess you did too, or are considering to.
Let me tell you, it’s not the most obvious path to take. Microsoft is not exactly notorious for playing nice with Mac OS X. When I purchased my first Zune, Microsoft seemed blissfully unaware of the existence of other operating systems. The only way to sync that lovely media player was by leaving behind your trusted old Mac and finding a Windows computer to sync with.
Luckily, Microsoft seems to have embraced the future and cross-platform goodness that comes in the wake of it. Working with a Windows Phone from a Windows or Mac homebase still has its differences, differences that do come to show, but Microsoft has done a good job with Mac support this time around.
Wrought in Microsoft’s own forges and available for free on the Mac App Store, Microsoft’s little helper comes in the form of Windows Phone 7 Connector. A lengthy title for a relatively simple application.
Its role is twofold. First, to integrate with Mac OS X and run to and fro to keep your precious media synchronized. Second, to search for new updates, and push them to your Windows Phone when spotted.
For most people, the most important of these features will be media synchronization. You’ll be pleased to know that Windows Phone 7 Connector makes friends with your native Mac OS X applications. No, it does not offer another bulky iTunes alternative. Rather, it let’s you manage your media in iTunes and iPhoto, and employ Windows Phone 7 Connector solely as a synchronization agent. A good move in my eyes.
Hence, you’ll find your media in as good a shape as you left your original collection. You can select playlists, artists, or genres to sync your music; albums, events, titles to sync TV series and movies that were purchased through iTunes, and even Faces to sync your pictures and self-made videos. Note how you can select all items from one of these categories to keep these continually up to date on your Windows Phone.
Selecting Browse Device in the sidebar shows you the media content present on your device. Here you can preview these files and clear the clutter away. The Import Selected Items button is an especially refreshing sight; these files will not be locked on your device.
A lovely feature is the Ringtones pane. Not a major highlight so much as a fun and interesting addition. While Windows Phone 7 Connector is in the process of rummaging through your music, it will set aside certain tunes that it deems especially fit to serve as ringtones.
Ringtone-compatible, according to Windows Phone 7 Connector, means the file is not much larger than 1MB, has a duration of less than 40 seconds, and is not protected by any digital rights management.
Not a Zune Alternative
Windows Phone 7 Connector is a charm of an application and a wonderful addition to Mac OS X, but does it serve as a fully fledged alternative to Zune — the Windows go-to software? The short answer is no, it does not. On Windows, Zune does all the things described above, and more. Apart from synchronization, it’s a strong looking media player, albeit a bit on the heavy side.
However, the feature that’s missing most is an integrated App MarketPlace, a way to download applications on your computer and push them to your phone. App management is limited to what you can do on every internet-enabled computer. Windows Phone 7 Connector refers you to the online App MarketPlace by opening it in your browser. You can then browse the catalog on your computer, and send a link to your Windows Phone by email or text message to download the application over there.
What features do you think should be added to Windows Phone 7 Connector to provide better Mac OS X integration? Or do you think the application is fine as is, and would only become too bloated otherwise? Have your say in the comments!