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The End is Nigh
May 9, 2012 - Dave Hecei
It all started back in 2000. Apple created a free cloud service called iTools, which gave Mac users an email with the @mac.com domain, iDisk storage space, iCards greeting card service, and HomePage web space. In 2002, iTools morphed into a service called .Mac (pronounced ‘dot mac’). This lasted for several more years and eventually became known as MobileMe. On June 30th, 2012 MobileMe will officially end.
MobileMe is suite of several cloud services. The main thrust of MobileMe is email, calendar, and contacts. It also incorporates iDisk – cloud storage space to share files between multiple devices, Find My iPhone, Photo Gallery, iWeb integration – basically a web hosting service to use with iLife, and Back to My Mac – a remote desktop service that allows you to control and access your Mac at home while on the road.
MobileMe also allowed users to sync emails, contacts, Safari bookmarks, and other items, across their iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Macs (either laptops or desktops). When the service worked, it was magic. When it didn’t work, it was, well I won’t use that language here.
Back in June of 2011, Apple made the announcement that MobileMe would be shut down. For those who use and love MobileMe, and that number is probably somewhat small, it was a sad day. Apple will shut MobileMe off sometime late in the day on June 30th, 2012.
All is not completely lost. Yes, Apple is taking away MobileMe, but they have brought forth iCloud. While some may say that iCloud is just the new MobileMe, it really isn’t. Apple has maneuvered iCloud as an automatic tool for sharing media between OS X Lion, MS Windows Vista or 7, and iOS 5 mobile devices.
Let’s take a look at what iCloud could do for you. As an example, Jane Doe has an iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, and an iMac. Next, she sets up a free iCloud account with Apple. She then checks for updates on all her devices. The iOS devices all need to be running iOS 5 or better and the Macs all have to be running OS X 10.7 or better. The update to iOS 5 is free, but if the Macs are running OS X 10.6 or lower, the update to Lion is not free. The good news is Apple is (hopefully still) running a special deal for current MobileMe users. They are giving away free copies of OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. After you update to 10.6 you then need to purchase, for $30, OS X 10.7 Lion. If you have not seen this offer yet, go to www.me.com and log into your account. You should see information there about the upgrade offer. You can also check your me.com or mac.com email for the offer.
With all the devices set up for iCloud, Jane can take a picture with her iPhone and that photo is automatically sent to iCloud. It is then automatically pushed to the iMac, Air, and iPad – all without any effort on her part. When Jane buys a song on iTunes, that song is then pushed to all her other devices. When she buys an App for her iPad, it is pushed to her iPhone (as long as it’s compatible). When Jane bookmarks a new site in Safari and adds a new appointment in iCal on her iMac, these all get updated on her other devices for her. This all happens automatically and wirelessly in the background. This is iCloud.
That is what iCloud can do, some of which MobileMe could do. However, there are features that will be lost when MobileMe is shut down on June 30th. First is your web site. If you used iWeb and MobileMe to create a personal web site, this will disappear. If you have files stored in your iDisk, this will disappear. While iCloud is cloud storage, like iDisk, Apple will not move your files from your old iDisk to iCloud. This is something you will have to do yourself. If you are using the Gallery part of MobileMe, that is also going to disappear.
While iCloud will sync your email, contacts, calendars, and bookmarks, it will not sync desktop Widgets, Dock items, keychains, and System Prefs. If you had a MobileMe Family Pack, each individual in that group account will have to create separate iCloud accounts.
Apple’s iCloud is the future. Over the next few months, this service will shift into gear as MobileMe winds down. With a new Mac OS (Mountain Lion) coming sometime this summer, iCloud will become an integral part of Macs and iOS devices.
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