A question that many new iDevice users ask themselves from when they first connect their new toy: Should I get MobileMe? When you first connect a new device to iTunes, it asks if you want to buy a year’s subscription, or try a 30 day trial. Problem is… not many people know the benefits of MobileMe – but I do. So read on to find out if you should be subscribed to Apple’s premium Cloud Service.
It’s a tough choice – fork out $99 (£59) for a cloud service from Apple, or stick to the alternatives like a Google/DropBox combo which is free. This editorial is meant to persuade you in the direction of Apple, and moderator _JKK_ is going to write an anti-MobileMe article – to make things fair.
MobileMe seems expensive. £59 can buy you an Xbox game and another control pad… or a couple of BluRays… or an iPad Keyboard Dock. But the sheer number of features you get with the package warrant the sale. iOS 3.0 was released by Apple with the main selling point being Push – Push notifications, push calendars, push contacts, push everything: and that’s the main reason I love MobileMe (I’ll get onto that more later though) Firstly, take a read of the features below and my personal take on them:
Mail isn’t a feature I really use on MobileMe (I know… not the best start to a “pro MobileMe” article) – I use Googlemail for all my emails because I’ve had the Gmail account for 3 or 4 years and it was far too much hassle to change email addresses or even set up a forwarding system.
Nevertheless, Mail on MobileMe is a brilliant application which can push emails to any device you have linked to MobileMe. You also get a really cool @me.com email address and a large amount of mail storage. The ability to receive emails instantly is what I love most about it – because it’s all run by Push. As soon as you get an email on your Me account, the notification instantly shows up on your desktop, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch all at the same time. If you’re somebody who’s in a business and needs to get and reply to emails quickly – this service is probably the quickest around.
You’d think this would be pretty useless as well – How many times have you used the contacts app on your iPod or iPhone? Well it’s not.
Your phonebook on your iPhone is part of the contacts infrastructure. If you add a contact on your iPhone – with a name, phone number, email address and even a photo – it all gets uploaded to your cloud and pushed out everywhere. Including your desktop contacts app. This is a feature I love because before MobileMe, I’d need to input the same contact information about 3 or 4 times into my PC, iPod Touch and iPhone – but now it does it all by itself.
Plus if your MobileMe account is owned by multiple people (i.e. a small business) and Sarah finds out that one of the client’s info in the contacts app is outdated, she can update it from the computer and Bill (the man in the white van) will have the new information immediately updated on his iPhone.
College/School people – Take note: Your homework is due on the 23rd of February. You’ve left your iPhone at home.. so you can’t input it there. You go into the web www.me.com app, add the homework information, including the due date, any additional notes and what calendar is belongs to – and everything gets updated everywhere, instantly.
Businesses: a client has to move their appointment forward by an hour. You can do it on your iPod Touch from work and immediately everyone in the company has it pushed to their phones to with the alteration. It’s that easy to keep up to date with everything.
If you’ve got a huge iPhoto collection like me, you’ll know that your iPhone might have difficulties storing everything onto it. How much easier would it be to just upload your whole collection to the internet and then take it around with you with the Gallery app? Well it can be done with MobileMe. You can upload your recent “Holiday to Malaga” photos to your MobileMe webspace and then send Granny and Granddad the link to the photos and they can view them all from their house.
You can even take a photo with your iPhone and upload it to the cloud and it will notify iPhoto which will then download the photo straight away and add it to your collection – wirelessly and over-the-air.
iDisk can be used for a couple of things. The first and most obvious one is a portable, online storage environment, where you can upload anything and keep it safe on your MobileMe. There’s also a public folder so if you’ve got a song you want to share with someone, you can upload it to MobileMe instead of Rapidshare. You can have up to 20GB of space to play with (on the standard package) and you can buy extra 20GB packages if you need to.
There’s an iDisk app so you can view photos, PDFs, documents, spreadsheets and powerpoints on your iDevice from the cloud.
The second use of iDisk is the ability to upload websites. If you use iWeb, RapidWeaver or any other web building software, you can link your MobileMe account to it and use it as a hosting site – You’ll even get a domain name (which you can replace with a domain name you’ve purchased, if you want) – so it’s never been easier to create, upload and share websites with people.
Find My iPhone
This is the main reason I bought MobileMe. Find My iPhone is the newest addition to the applications. If you lose your phone, you can track it with the online web app (at www.me.com) and the new iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch app. It displays the location of your lost phone on a Google Maps map and you have the option to remotely lock your device, remotely wipe it clean, or send it a message (which is played with an annoying beep – even if you lost your phone in your house and it’s on silent!)
It’s a really useful feature and is worth at least half the amount of the year subscription cost – think of it as a mini insurance for your iDevice.
Back To My Mac
Back To My Mac is another feature of MobileMe which isn’t talked about much but has saved a lot of Mac users in the past. If you have multiple Macs in the house, you can have MobileMe on all of them and enable “Back To My Mac” – this is a feature which lets other activated Macs to view the screens of each other.
So you can be in your own house and be too lazy to change the song playing on the iMac upstairs, so you just view its screen and do it remotely from your downstairs MacBook.
One of the ways Back To My Mac has rescued Macs has been previously noted on TUAW, so you can click here to read all about the story
Jim has the Back to My Mac feature of MobileMe and using the screen sharing function saw someone filling out an online job application, which helpfully listed their address, phone number, name and Social Security number. Then yesterday, Jim snagged a picture of one of the alleged crooks who had used the built in iSight camera to pose for a snapshot..
And a final unknown feature is the ability to sync your information with MobileMe – so if your computer gets wiped or you need to migrate to a new one, you can get all your old settings back from MobileMe, including Bookmarks, Preference and Password Keychains.
It all sounds good… But I can’t afford it…
That’s fine – I have 3 tips for you. If you’re interested in getting MobileMe but $100 is a bit too much then you can do one of 3 things to make the price a bit lower:
Amazon normally had it cheaper on their website. For example, a search of “MobileMe” on Amazon.co.uk brings up these as the top two results:
The second one in the list is a £20 saving – That’s a THIRD off the price stated by Apple for the same product. So logically, in the USA, a third of $100 is a saving of around $33 – Not bad at all.
2. Family Pack.
When I first got MobileMe, I bought a Family Pack from Amazon. This is a bit more expensive, but gives you 5 accounts (a “Main” one and 4 other mini ones with less iDisk storage space) What I then did was sold the 4 other accounts on eBay to people – signed them up to a year’s subscription with their own personal @me.com address and managed to get my MobileMe account for free (for the price I was selling the accounts for) – A bit cheeky, yes, but it made 5 people happy.
On the other hand, you could buy one of the mini family accounts from eBay for around £20… Which is a third of the price in the UK. You’ll get less iDisk storage space, but all the other features are there.
MobileMe is the new name of the programme. The OLD name was Dot Mac (or .Mac) – eBay it and you’ll get a few results including this one:
It says that it’s the same as the “MobileMe Family Pack” but it’s the same price as a MobileMe Individual account bought from Apple. So you save money straight away. And if you take some advice from point #2… You might even be able to make a small profit in the process!
So that’s MobileMe. Many syncing features all dealt with by push and some very useful extras if your Mac gets stolen or your iPhone gets lost. Tell us about your MobileMe experience in the comments and whether you’ve changed your mind and plan on buying it soon. Also, you can read the opposing argument here (when it’s been finished and put up!), or find out more about MobileMe from the Apple website by clicking here.