Tag Archives: MobileMe

The missing piece of the iPad puzzle

Ian Fogg on why “Cloud” is the Missing Ingredient for a “Third Device” iPad Strategy:

“For iPad to really fly, preferences, usernames, passwords, and content should transfer automatically across the different devices that Apple intends consumers to use together: PC, phone, and iPad. Apple should use a consumer cloud to do it. Consumers should not have to think, all of this should just work. Tethered sync is a twentieth century product feature.”

Ian is right, and I’d go further and say that syncing files of all types should be part of the iPad experience.

With an iPad with 64GB of storage, there’s no reason why every file on my iDisk can’t be stored on it and synced wirelessly. I could then access documents with iWork and other applications, and the iPad would be a real netbook replacement. If I have to be tethered to my Mac to get files in sync, that will be a very much second-rate experience.

(Image from AJStarks)

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Five things Apple could do to make MobileMe great

One thing that hasn’t been talked about in connection with the (presumed) launch of Apple’s tablet on Wednesday is how MobileMe fits into the picture. There’s a good reason for this: MobileMe is one of Apple’s “forgotten products”. Used by many, but rarely talked about, mainly because it has been upgraded only slowly and has never really had any groundbreaking, compelling features.

In comparison to the cloud-based services of Google and others, it often feels like something of an also-ran. I’m hoping that Apple will do some fun things with MobileMe on Wednesday, tying it deeply into how the product works. However, even if MobileMe isn’t a core part of what the tablet is it deserves an upgrade. So here’s my five suggestions of ways that Apple could turn MobileMe from an also-ran to an essential.

1. Turn iDisk into a real file sync engine, with cloud-based Home folder

With more and more of us owning multiple computers, and more devices like the iPhone capable of using files, keeping all of your documents in sync is becoming incredibly important. MobileMe has a sync engine, in the shape of iDisk. Only one problem: it’s slow, and works only with Macs. Compared to services like DropBox (which I also use) and SugarSync it feels like a product straight out of the dark ages.

2. Beef up the web email client

MobileMe email really only comes into its own when you use it with a desktop client, and in particular Apple Mail. If have to use the web client, you’re going to feel like you’re using free Yahoo! email circa 1998. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just… basic. Server-side filtering? Not a chance. Server-side spam handling? Nope. Threading of conversations? Integration of IM? Forget it. Unless you really want to avoid your email, it’s just not good enough.

3. Make “personal domains” more powerful

Personal domains are a simple idea for making better use of the lovely little sites you create with iWeb. Essentially, you can set up your MobileMe web space so it appears to be at a proper personal domain, such as ianbetteridge.com. Only one problem: Unlike equivalent services from Google and many others, it ONLY works with web sites. If you want your email from (say) [email protected] to automatically go to your MobileMe address and – importantly – the replies to come from that email address too, you’re out of luck.

4. Music, videos and apps everywhere

Apple has already started to take steps towards allowing you to have all your bought music and videos available everywhere. Since the last version of iTunes, you could set things up so that libraries connected with the same Apple account shared content automatically – a great help if, like me, you have multiple Macs. But the next step is to take this further: make any music, video or app I buy that’s associated with a MobileMe account available on every Mac, PC and iPhone that’s attached to that account, via a web page or (if they must) through iTunes. I should be able to stream any track that iTunes knows I’ve bought, even if it’s not in the library of the machine I’m using. For machines with limited storage – like a tablet – this would be a great option.

5. Bring Galleries into the 21st Century

I’m one of the few people who seems to like putting my photos up on MobileMe’s galleries. I like its simplicity and its clean interface. What I don’t like about it is that it lacks “discoverability”. Unless I tell people where my galleries are, they’re very hard to find. Why? Aren’t Mac users social people?

None of these things are rocket science for a company like Apple, but all of them would immeasureably improve MobileMe. At the moment, even for Mac users, I have great difficulty in recommending MobileMe as an essential purchase – change these five things, and it would be a lot easier.

(Photo by Dekuwa – http://flic.kr/p/4UH8s7)

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Two things I need to see in MobileMe

I’ve been a .Mac subscriber since the day the service came out, and despite the various moves from free to paid, I’ve stuck with it all the way.

MobileMe, the service’s successor, was pitched as “Exchange for the rest of us”, which is something that really excited me. I’ve had an Exchange account on my personal domain for a while, and got used to having the capabilities it gives you.

So I was eager to try out MobileMe. But, sadly, it’s proved to be a bit disappointing. That’s not only because of its well-documented early problems, but because there are a couple of things missing which I really would miss if I switched away from using Exchange.

Reliability

There’s no doubt that MobileMe hasn’t had the best of starts in terms of its reliability. There is the oft-cited 1% who have had no email. There have also been various other gremlins in the system, such as the one which robbed me of all but three of my Address Book contacts. Thankfully, I had a backup – Time Machine saved me.

With a service such as MobileMe, reliability isn’t optional. Even if I’m not using it for business, I can’t afford to lose my calendars, address book and email. It needs to be there, 100% of the time, with no if’s or buts.

Better email

One of the nice things about .Mac (and its successor) is the personalised domain. Basically, give it a domain name, and it will use your MobileMe web space for it. It’s all highly-intergrated, and works very well.

Except for one thing: it only works for web traffic. If you have email at that domain, you’re out of luck – Apple does nothing with your mail exchanger records, which means you won’t receive email to an email address at your personal domain.

To put it bluntly, this is pretty lame: this, after all, is a feature which Google gives away for free in Google Apps for your Domain. To pay and not get the same from MobileMe is pretty poor.