Apple's iPhone has arrived three months early, sort of.
On Thursday, media-sharing service TransMedia plans to release its Glide Sync and Glide Mobile software for Mac users, finally fulfilling its promise to make desktop files available across different operating systems and devices.
"Mac users will be able to access all of their Macintosh files, whether they're documents, photos, music, videos, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, from their cell phones," says TransMedia chairman and CEO Donald Leka. "Effectively, we're turning every major cell phone on the market into more than an iPhone, before the iPhone comes out. From that phone, not only will you be able to access everything, but you will also have significant capabilities to edit, manipulate, and create files on the phone and then have it reverse synchronize back to your Mac."
In other words, Glide gives supported phones music and video playback capabilities that are comparable to those of a video iPod. The difference is that files are streamed from Glide's hosted service instead of residing on the mobile device.
Windows users have been able to use the current version of Glide since December. With the release of the Glide Sync application for the Mac, computer users who have different computer operating systems at home and at work can now access their files from either location.
Glide arrives on the Mac at a time when many companies are pursuing anytime, anywhere access. Adesso is working to extend its Tubes media-sharing application beyond Windows. Microsoft continues to develop Groove and FolderShare along these lines. Apple offers .Mac, which presumably will be extended to support the iPhone. Google Desktop's Search Across Computers option provides online file storage for text-based documents, and many believe that Google will eventually offer a more comprehensive storage, backup, and synchronization service. SharpCast is working on its Hummingbird file synchronization service. And the list goes on. Glide's edge at the moment is the fact that it functions just as well on mobile phones as it does on Windows or Macs.
Glide OS 2.0 Beta, the umbrella term for various Glide services, is a Flash-based abstraction layer that providers a file management and media-sharing interface through a Web browser on PCs and mobile phones. Subscribers get 300 Mbytes (free) to 8 Gbytes (paid) of online storage at Glidedigital.com, where they can store, create, and share various types of media files -- text, music, photos, and video. Additional storage is available for $24.95 per 5 Gbytes annually.
The service has evolved substantially since its debut in late 2005, and it now offers a broad range of compelling online applications, including word processing (Glide Write), a PowerPoint-style presentation app (Glide Presenter), a photo editor (Glide Photo Edit), an online e-mail client, a Web site authoring app, and a blogging app.
As Web-based applications, Glide's tools are competitive with other online software like Google Docs and ThinkFree Office. What sets them apart is that they work on most mobile phones and can be used to access and sync documents between computers, phones, and Glide's online file storage.
While Glide on a mobile phone may not match the iPhone in terms of elegance or interface, it does offer the potential to access more files than the iPhone's announced 8 Gbyte maximum storage capacity will allow, assuming additional storage is purchased. It is also available immediately, rather than in three months, and on any mobile carrier with Internet access, rather than exclusively on AT&T's network.