SAN FRANCISCO (07/05/2000) - Back in the mid-1990s, Now Software's Now Contact and Now Up-to-Date had bested the majority of their PIM counterparts in features and user loyalty. Suddenly, those programs became unwitting passengers on the product-acquisition roller coaster: Qualcomm Inc. bought Now Software and then immediately lost interest in the products it had acquired. As a result, the QuickContact and QuickDay features, which provided contact and schedule information in the menu bar, broke in Mac OS 8.5 and never got fixed.
Worse, Palm Pilot users were left with the execrable Now Synchronize. With the release of Now Up-to-Date & Contact 3.9 by new owner Power On Software Inc., the ride has come full circle-the products aren't substantially different, but Power On has updated them to work with today's Mac OS and to support Palm devices.
Longtime users will be pleased to see that QuickContact and QuickDay (actually rewritten in version 3.8) now work with Mac OS 8.5 and later versions. For the most part they work well; from the menu bar, you can access or add frequently used contact information and the day's appointments and events. QuickContact falls short in telephone dialing features, however-it can't use the internal modems in iMacs or G3 or G4 tower machines. Power On has promised to address this problem in a future release.
The main applications remain virtually unchanged from version 3.8; Power On has yet to update the programs to the current Mac look-and-feel. In some areas they show their age-for example, listings of long-dead e-mail programs appear in Contact's preferences. The networking features are fortunately still robust: you can share calendars and contact files with other users through a central server, and changes you make to your client files go automatically to the server and to other users' files. Power On now includes the contact and calendar servers with the base product, along with Now Web Publisher, which lets you publish calendar files on the Web.
The sole new feature in version 3.9 is synchronization with Palm OS devices, and it's a winner. We tested the new conduits with an old Palm Pilot Professional, a Palm IIIxe, and a Handspring Visor Deluxe and found that they did an excellent job of synchronizing data. The Handspring was especially quick at HotSyncing, thanks to its USB cradle. Now Up-to-Date & Contact sometimes contains data that doesn't translate directly to the Palm, but Power On provides intelligent workarounds.
Macworld's Buying Advice
If you've stuck with your old versions of Now Up-to-Date and Now Contact because they were the best (or only) multiuser PIMs, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Back from the brink of doom, the package works well with modern Macs and is once again in active development. Palm synchronization finally works correctly, to the joy of handheld users; if you use a Palm OS device, version 3.9 is a must-have upgrade. If you're still using one of the Now Software versions, it makes sense to upgrade and regain full functionality with newer versions of the Mac OS. But if you've already upgraded to 3.8 and you don't use a handheld, wait for version 4.0.
RATING: 4.0 mice
PROS: Updated for modern versions of Mac OS; good Palm synchronization.
CONS: Programs show their age; package does not handle memos for Palm devices.
COMPANY: Power On Software (800/344-9160, http://www.poweronsoftware.com).
LIST PRICE: $100.