1.5 Wireless Software

Wireless hardware is handy enough, but software adds even more functionality. Both Apple and third-party developers have written applications that take the wireless hardware and make it accomplish some pretty darn cool stuff.

1.5.1 Apple's Software

As might be expected with a technology that they're trying to evangelize, Apple has led the way with their own software. If you're not running at least Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, you'll want to upgrade, because it's a requirement for almost all of their "digital hub" applications. iSync

Now that it's possible to hook up devices such as the Sony Ericsson T68i and the Palm Tungsten T (http://www.palm.com/products/handhelds/tungsten-t/) via Bluetooth, you need iSync (http://www.apple.com/isync/), which helps you move your data to and from these devices.

That's not to say that iSync is only for wireless devices. It works equally well for those with wires, such as the iPod. But the specialized needs of Bluetooth devices require a specialized application. With iSync, you can synchronize the contents of your Address Book contacts and your iCal appointments to your Palm, your cell phone, or both. Chapter 6 covers iSync and how you can use it with Bluetooth. iChat

Not just another chat client, iChat (http://www.apple.com/ichat) leverages OS X 10.2 and later to provide a superior chat experience. In addition to simply sending "how r u?" to people on your buddy list, you can share files and images, just by dragging them into the message window. In addition, your buddy list isn't limited to Mac users: you can also include anyone on AIM, America Online's instant messaging service.

Of course, iChat doesn't require that you be unwired?it works fine when you're hooked up to a network via Ethernet. But the combination of AirPort, Rendezvous, and iChat allows local wireless networks to do amazing things. Rendezvous

Like iChat, Rendezvous is not so much about wireless networking as it is another way of looking at networking altogether. It works equally well over both wired and unwired networks.

Rendezvous started off as an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) proposal called Zeroconf, for "zero configuration." Their goal was to enable computers to connect to other computers seamlessly and easily, regardless of computer and OS make. Apple introduced this concept to the Mac in OS X 10.2 under the name Rendezvous. For more information, see the following URLs:

  • http://www.apple.com/macosx/jaguar/rendezvous.html

  • http://www.ietf.org/html.charters/zeroconf-charter.html

  • http://www.zeroconf.org/

Any Rendezvous-enabled device on a network can find and talk to any other Rendezvous-enabled device. Going forward, this will let you set up networks that automatically know about all the other machines and printers on the network. You'll be able to carry an AirPort-enabled laptop into a room full of other computers, and share files without first having to spend years learning system administration.

Rendezvous and iChat work together, so you can chat with anyone on your local network, even if they're not on your buddy list. I've found this to be amazingly useful at tech conferences, where the audience can be chatting to each other (and heckling the speakers!) while looking like they're taking notes.

While Rendezvous is about zero configuration, that doesn't mean that there aren't a few things worth knowing about it, and those (along with iChat) will be covered in Chapter 7.

1.5.2 Third-Party Software

Applications by third parties range from the useful to the unethical to the possibly (depending on your jurisdiction) illegal. The latter group will be saved for Chapter 5.

One example of a useful application written by someone other than Apple is MobileSync, from Salling Software (http://www.salling.com/). While iSync is a great application if you happen to use iCal and Address Book, not everyone does. If you want to sync your Microsoft Entourage contacts and calendar with your Sony Ericsson cell phone via Bluetooth, you need MobileSync. Additionally, MobileSync works with IrDA if you don't have Bluetooth, and via serial cable if you don't have either.

The same developer has also produced Salling Clicker, a program that allows you to turn your Bluetooth-capable cell phone and Palm OS PDA into a remote control for iTunes, Apple's Keynote presentation program, and more. You'll find more about Salling Clicker in Chapter 6.