mobileme

More Free MobileMe

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Today Apple sent an email to me, along with countless others extending the "whoops" free period for MobileMe another 60 days.

The email reads ...

"We have already made many improvements to MobileMe, but we still have many more to make. To recognize our users' patience, we are giving every MobileMe subscriber as of today a free 60 day extension. This is in addition to the one month extension most subscribers have already received. We are working very hard to make MobileMe a great service we can all be proud of. We know that MobileMe's launch has not been our finest hour, and we truly appreciate your patience as we turn this around."

I know how fashionable it is to trash MobileMe, but I have to admit the service has been pretty stable for me (the first week excepted). I've come to rely upon the wireless calendar sync. I think the most encouraging part of this experience is the way Apple has stepped up both with their extension of time credit and their commitment to fix things. Now if Apple would just get a little better at that pesky communication issue.

Steve Jobs Admits MobileMe Problems

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Ars Technica reports tonight on an internal email at Apple where Steve Jobs admits the MobileMe launch was "not up to Apple standards." The email reportedly goes on to explain how Apple has learned several lessons from the problems involved with the MobileMe launch. Lets hope these lessons are applied as MobileMe and other Apple based web services are expanded and launched. It's nice that Steve is internally addressing the MobileMe issues. I still wish they had been more public with their challenges from the beginning for us paying members.

I have to say that while the first week was pretty useless, the expanded over-air syncing has been very useful to me. The web apps also fit nicely into that portion of my day where I'm driving a windows box.

Loose Lips Sink Ships

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The folks at Apple are masters at keeping us in the dark. And being honest, there is a certain part of me that absolutely loves this. I enjoy the hype leading up to WWDC and Macworld and I love being amazed with the way Apple (in contrast to most of the tech industry) makes few or no promises but always delivers.

All of that being said, silence is sometimes a bad thing. This is especially true with the MobileMess. I get that things went off the rails with this launch but I never got why Apple was so secretive about it. When people are paying for a service and the service breaks, they should be told what is broken and how long it will be until things are fixed. For these reasons I was pleased to see that Apple has lifted the veil (more or less) with respect to MobileMe with a MobileMe status page. While it's great we can now get the status quickly, I'm still wondering why it took so long.

Apple Gives a 30 Day Extension to MobileMe Customers

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This morning Apple sent out its "mea culpa" email to MobileMe subscribers concerning the less than stellar transition from .Mac to MobileMe. Standing behind the apology, Apple gave everyone a free 30 day extension of services.

We want to apologize to our loyal customers and express our appreciation for their patience by giving all current subscribers an automatic 30-day extension to their MobileMe subscription free of charge. Your extension will be reflected in your account settings within the next few weeks.

Apple also confirmed my suspicion that Calendar and Address Book syncing was less than instantaneous.

I appreciate Apple stepping up and taking responsibility and providing some value to the customers. My only complaint is the lack of information while they were sorting everything out. A few simple postings explaining the problems and estimated time for fixes would have been appreciated.

Getting Comfy with MobileMe

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The dust is finally settling around MobileMe. I am still scratching my head over the bungled launch of this product but as the servers seem to be recovering, I'm already incorporating the new features into my daily life. Specifically, the push syncing is fantastic. I generally use a MacBook Air as my daily computer. I have a MacBook Pro at home at my desk for all of the heavy lifting like video, photo editing and the likes. I also sync my iPhone to the MacBook Pro. Before MobileMe, that meant when I made an adjustment to an appointment on my Mac, it did not get on my phone until that night when I synced it at home. Now it pushes right through. I already can't live without this feature. Here are a couple other tips I've discovered:

1. Do Not Become a Lemming to Email Notification



Just because you can push email, doesn't mean you have to become a Pavlovian dog like some of our Blackberry brethren. I've left the "push" on for my email but I refuse to jump every time it pings, vibrates, or otherwise announced new mail. Stopping for every email would make it impossible to get anything done. Be the master of your email, don't let email master you.

2. BusySync Still fills a Role



BusySync still lets you sync your calendars with your family and co-workers. Likewise it allows you to painlessly publish to Google if needed. I had an interesting chat with George Starcher and Katie Floyd over the weekend where we figured out a work-around for MobileMe's inability to sync subscribed calendars. Specifically, if you subscribe to the calendar at your Google calendar and then sync it down to your iCal with BusySync, you can get it to push. If anyone knows a way to push the birthday calendar, let me know.

3. All Push is not Created Equal



I've noticed that while the email pushes nearly immediately, the calendar and address push is a bit slower. For me it is generally 5-15 minutes. This delay doesn't bother me at all.

4. About that Web Interface...



I really like the look of the web access portal. It looks and feels like an application. I think the UI is heads and shoulders above Google's offerings but feature poor. There are a lot of options available in Google calendar that are simply not there on MobileMe. Lets hope they continue to improve stability and add features as things calm down.

Launch Day Check In

I've had my head under water the last few days with some deadlines at the day job so I thought I'd check in with the MacSparky faithful with a couple of observations.

iPhone 2.0 - YES



I did the manual install that was widely publicized yesterday. The App Store is everything I though it would be and then some. I've downloaded a ton of free applications. My favorite two free ones so far are Urbanspoon (it is so satisfying shaking your phone and having it tell you where to eat) and Lightsaber (because .. well ... its a LIGHTSABER!).

I've also bought a few apps. I have OmniFocus running (review in the future) but am also loving the MLB application and Band. Now if we could just sort out the issue of that pesky bluetooth keyboard.

iPhone 3g Launch Woes



I, along with most of the interweb, predicted AT&T's painful signup procedures would be a problem and it looks like that is coming true. For those of you going through it, at least rest easy knowing at some point in the next few days, your phone will be faster than my phone.

MobileMess



My biggest disappointment is the problems getting MobileMe off the ground. It has been generally non-existent and, when briefly available, extremely slow. I think MobileMe holds great promise but Apple needs to give it sufficient server backbone to make it snappy AND reliable. I'm withholding judgment on this one a few more days to see if they get it sorted out.

MobileMe Arrives Tomorrow Night

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Apple announced last night that the .Mac service will be going down at 6 PM Pacific on July 9, 2008. The service will remain down for approximately 4 hours or until they have MobileMe in place. This is great news. Thursday morning, I hope to have MobileMe working.

In anticipation of using the new service, I have deactivated the Google sync function in BusySync and will be instead doing it through the MobileMe service. My primary use for the Web calendaring is to view and edit it on my PC at work. That is just the beginning. With iPhone calendar push syncing, it will really streamline things for me. Is anybody else planning on dumping the Google calendar sync for MobileMe?

Pining Away for MobileMe

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Am I the only one that thinks about MobileMe every time I have to sync my iPhone to add an appointment? It is funny how this works. I've been wire syncing contacts and appointments for a year now without really complaining much. However, since Apple demonstrated the MobileMe service last week, I get peeved every time I have to stop and sync by wire. My appointments are constantly in flux and the wireless immediate syncing I saw last week will be very useful. It is like smelling a delicious pizza only to have the box slammed on your finger and you're told you can't eat it for another month. Ugg. While Apple said this will release "early July", I think that means July 11 but I sure hope I'm wrong. The sooner the better. Am I alone on this?

***Adendum
I thought about this more. If MobileMe requires the iPhone 2.0 software to do its sync magic, doesn't that mean there is no way on God's green earth this will come out before July 11?

MobileMe and the Future of the Apple Cloud

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I wrote about MobileMe back when it was just a rumor. Now that Apple has lifted the veil, I thought I'd take a moment to share my thoughts about the actual product.

Push Technology? Thank You Very Much!


This feature makes my life easier. Requiring me to cable sync my iPhone to get calendar and contact data is frustrating. Add to this the fact that I use two different Macs and the resulting increased likelihood of a sync meltdown and you can see why I am very ready for this feature. That being said, I'm pretty hip to these technologies and, frankly, I've expected at least this much functionality for some time. For a lot of people this will be revolutionary. Regardless, it is essential.

Web Applications


The ability to have your calendar, contacts, and email at any computer in a familiar interface is fantastic. I think it is intriguing how different the approaches are between Apple and Google. I will probably catch flak for this but I find the screenshots of the Apple Web applications more appealing than Google's. That probably arises from familiarity but I also think Apple spends more time on design. I'm not sure how useful picture syncing will be and I'll address the iDisk below.

Windows Love


There are a lot of iPhone users out there that do not own Macs. There are also a lot of Mac Users that sit behind a windows box at work. This is a necessary and welcome addition. I also wouldn't be surprised that, if properly implemented, MobileMe acts as a sort of gateway drug for pulling switchers over to Apple.

iDisk


The bump to 20 gigs is excellent. I also like the ability to share large files easily. The web interface for the iDisk, however, does not do much for me. As a SugarSync subscriber and general syncing nerd, I just feel they could take this further. I get that I can do syncing with an iDisk but it is slow and only works on the local copy of the iDisk. Furthermore, the local copy is a sparse image and not easily searchable or replaceable. The SugarSync solution, which goes and syncs your files from their native locations on your drive is much more elegent. For instance. I keep my Bento database synced using SugarSync. It is automatic. I don't have to think about it. Doing this through the iDisk requires several steps where I would have to drag the database to the iDisk on the computer I'm leaving and drag it off the iDisk on the computer I'm about to work on. If I forget, then I will end up with two different sets of data. Ugg. Likewise, why can't we access the files on the iDisk from our iPhones? If it can open a Keynote file as an email attachment why not directly from iPhone iDisk access? Put simply, I think the iDisk could be much more.

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Server Capacity - Can Apple Keep Up?


My biggest gripe with .Mac is its speed, or lack thereof. This thing is slow. As a totally non-scientific example, sending a 300mb file up over my home network (cable modem) took me 50 minutes last night. Is the capacity of an already slow system being increased to handle millions of "push" transactions? I guess we'll find out in early July.

Name Suckage


Apple is getting slammed for the name "Mobile Me." I think this is based on a variety of issues ranging from the affiliation to the dreadful Windows Me to people who are generally unhappy when Apple takes the "Mac" out of anything. Trying to seperate myself from the "geek", I can see the name Mobile Me being pretty effective with a general consumer who really doesn't understand cloud based computing and enterprises but knows what a pain it is to remember what time the dentist appointment is when you are in your car and left the details on your computer at home. So I really am not griping about the name.

Additional Functionality


I'm actually pleased with promise that MobileMe provides. The push technology alone will be of tremendous benefit to me. I'm hoping, however, that this is only the begininng. I don't know about you, but I always got the impression the .Mac service was the ugly step sister at Apple. It occaisionally got lip service but it never really got that special attention that Apple generally brings to its products. I'm hoping that changes with MobileMe. I'd love to see it take on more aggressive file syncing like the SugarSync service. I'd also like to see it serve up video and music so I could park gigabytes of music on video on the MobileMe server and then listen to them from my 3g iPhone. I think we are all headed toward cloud computing and this is probably just another small step in the long march. If Apple gets aggressive with this, it would serve them (and us consumers) well.