Mobileme may be an overpriced version of Google's hosted services, but I will give Mobileme one thing for sure - IT LOOKS GOOD! Isn't that, in part, what drives many folks to the Mac and Apple in general? The latest update to MobileMe continues the trend of "cleaning up around the edges." Mail got the biggest face lift. If you don't belong to MobileMe I'm not going to tell you to run out and buy a subscription, but I will tell you some of the big benefits to MobileMe. One big benefit of using MobileMe, for Mac users, is that not only are the interfaces similar but all the data on your Mac is automatically synced with MobileMe (once you turn on that feature). If you have an iPhone (old or new) as soon as you sync with MobileMe all of the information that was on your Mac and then was in the cloud is now on your iPhone. Any changes made on your iPhone are then in the cloud and of course then on your Mac. Syncing is painless, seamless and without major headaches. You can do much the same thing with Google, in fact Apple has made that even easier.
Here's What's important about MobileMe:
- Excellent web mail
- Excellent web calendar
- Excellent web contacts
- Find my iPhone (There's now an iPhone App)
- iDisk (there are better alternatives, some free)
- Back-up of Essential Files & Syncing of Devices (REALLY SHINES WITH THIS ONE)
- It's provided by Apple, so ALL YOUR APPLE DEVICES PLAY FRIENDLY
Here's What's New features of MobileMe Mail:
- Widescreen & Compact View
- Single-Click Archiving
- Formatting Toolbar
- Faster Performance
- SSL Protection
- External E-Mail Address Support
- Improved Junk Mail Filtering
The biggest change to mail was the addition of a widescreen mode, which makes writing and reading e-mails much easier. The rules give MobileMe mail some parity with Apple's Mail on the Mac. The addition of rules also means that your iPhone can now have rules since the iOS doesn't natively support rules. The same goes for junk filtering, although I've found this to be less than perfect in the past, any changes have yet to bear fruit.
I'm not sure how much faster MobileMe mail is, but Apple says it's faster. Finally the external e-mail address support is an interesting feature that I look forward to trying. Basically it allows you to read all of your e-mail through MobileMe but still respond using the e-mail account the message was actually sent to.
While the upgrades to Mail are the marque features, the new application switcher is impressive. The previous version of MobileMe had all of your web apps running across the top of your browser. Now that's all gone and there is just a single button. Press that button with your mouse and an application switcher appears on the screen. Just choose which application you want to use and it appears, no clutter, no fuss; very Apple.
If you don't already have a MobileMe account there is a 60 day free trial, beware you may get hooked. You can find details at MobileMe.com. Personally the Find My iPhone feature is worth the price of admission. The piece of mind to be able to locate your iPhone wherever it may be, and if necessary lock it or even wipe it.
That price to gain admission to the MobileMe club isn't cheap. Retail is $99/year for a single user license and $149 for up to 5 licenses (family license). That's $13/mo for a family of five. You can getit cheaper at Amazon, and maybe other on-line retailers.
Amazon routinely sells licenses for at least a few dollars less and at times 20% or more. One important thing to know about MobileMe, it's not software. So, if you can buy an older package for less money - go for it. Right now Amazon is selling the 2009 edition for $67/year for a single user license and $99/year for the family pack, or less than $9/mo for a family of five.
Google is a great alternative and they do offer their productivity applications as well. Apple has iWork but it's only for reviewing documents. That being said, I find Google's presentation to be lacking and as a Mac user MobileMe's integration with the operating system on the Mac and the iPhone to be indispensable. Check it out and decide for yourself.