iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch
A major benefit of iOS portable devices is the way they enhance your ability to access your data, and other people's data, from anywhere. This is great, but you want to avoid the frustration of having multiple copies of that data and not knowing which copy is the most recent or correct. Hence the desire to synchronise that data as automatically and as quickly as possible.
Types of data that you may want to keep in sync include:
- Calendar appointments
- Address book contacts
- Photos & videos
- Documents & notes
- Music & podcasts
- Browser bookmarks
- Passwords, PINs, & account IDs
- Application data
There isn't a single solution that suits all people so, based on my experience with all the various devices, I can help you work out the best options for your situation and configure them on all your devices.
Apple's built in applications in iOS and OS X for email, contacts, and calendars are able to connect to many industry standard interfaces via internet connection so in those cases your decision is likely to be more about what extra features are provided in the "cloud" part of the service. For other types of data you are in most cases going to be looking for add-on products to do the managing.
Apple's product "iCloud" is their mechanism for synchronising and sharing data. One of the main benefits of using this is that all of the different parts that it includes (email, contacts, calendar, photos, find my iPhone, backups) are managed under a single account.
Google's plethora of web based products include "Gmail" and "Google Calendar" which can both be configured into your iOS and OS X devices for automatic syncing of email, contacts, and calendars. Other Google products such as "Google Docs" and "Picasa" (photos) can be synchronised using "Google Drive" and other third party products.
Dropbox is a stand out product for allowing automated synchronisation of various documents. Many applications are now using built-in Dropbox connectivity to keep their data in sync via the cloud.
Business based synchronisation in many cases will be delivered from private servers. Often this means use of the "Microsoft Exchange" protocols for connecting devices into the corporate intranet. Setting up an Exchange server is a significant exercise. Small businesses however may be particularly interested in deploying the "OS X Server" product which has built in support for synchronising email, contacts, and calendars and can often be set up very quickly out of the box.