Dot Mac Services to iPhone? Wait-a-Thon!


Do you use Apple’s .Mac Services? I do. I like the synchronization between my Macs; it really makes life easy. With the iPhone, I really get a lot of benefit. I can add a website, Calendar appointments, Address Book entry, etc on my iPhone and it gets synced across multiple machines.

So why can’t I access my iDisk on my iPhone? I realize actually creating documents might be a stretch, but at least an adherence to Apple’s own Human Interface Guidelines for iDisk on the iPhone via Safari should not be too hard. But why stop there. Why not an optimized view of my web-based .Mac Mail? Or Address Book?

I think it would be an awesome value for .Mac subscribers to get an optimized array of Apple’s services to the iPhone. They could start with their own Web App Gallery. What do you think? Would a tighter integration of Apple’s services with the iPhone make it that much more desirable?

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Chad Garrett

Software trainer, blogger and mobile technology enthusiast living in the suburban Midwest.

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Reader comments

Dot Mac Services to iPhone? Wait-a-Thon!


...I would be all for this if .Mac didn't ...stink... so much. I use it for syncing PIM between macs and pretty much nothing else.
Dear Apple: Please just hand .Mac over to Google and let them handle all that for you.
.Mac users.

I use .Mac to sync my laptop with my mini at home and like it quite a bit as well, even though it has definitely fallen behind Google and the Amazon S3 front-ends in terms of what you get and the functionality packaged around it.
I have noticed my .Mac gallery shows up nicely in Safari Touch, and Mail Touch has pretty seamless integration with .Mac IMAP.
What were you thinking for the iDisk? Quickview like mail attachments?
In general, I'm really uncertain about the idea of iPhone optimized websites like Amazon, Twitter, etc. In a way It fragments the web all over again. I hated (and still hate) having to code and write CSS just to cater to the broken mess that is IE6, and thinking about setting up separate CSS and code for iPhone just seems to go against the web. (And I deliberately exclude the mess that is WAP from this :) )
Now, WebApps then become a gray area to be sure. When is something an iPhone optimized site and when is something a webapp? When does the mouse/click paradigm fail on the iPhone's multi-touch (e.g things like mouse-over events).

Well for me the only mac product I own is my iPhone so I can't say that I use .mac but it would only make sense that the iPhone should be compatible.

Same, the only mac device i own is the iphone so i have never used the .mac but it seems like it would be quite useful to others

No, I think Yahoo is currently the only "push"-esque solution (strange that?). ActiveSync will probably beat .Mac to that! (which may be why they get the top spot on the menu!)
My understanding is that there just aren't enough engineers at Apple to get everything done at once. Google and now Facebook are sucking them all in and Apple has to do a lot more planning on how and when it assigns manpower between departments and projects. Thus, .Mac is lowered in priority and left to languish unless a feature is needed for something else (Back to my Mac or the iPhone galleries, for example).

ive had .Mac since the beginning and it is nice, though as others have pointed out there have been issues with services going unavailable. Currently I can already send pictures to my .Mac gallery from my iphone, I believe this was enabled by the latest version of iPhoto. Other than that I use my iDisk quite a bit and accessing that storage could have some benefit for 3rd party apps I guess.

The only thing I use .mac for is as a back up for a few files. I really don't see a need for the iPhone on .mac.

The KILLER .mac integration would be "Back to My Mac" on the iPhone. If I could remotely and securely control your Mac from the iPhone out of the box, that would be ideal. I know the screen real estate and bandwidth is limited, but I remote access on the go regularly. The leopard/.mac Back to My Mac is beautiful. With VPN active in iPhone v2.0, why not?
Additionally, the iDisk access would be great, but the iPhone really need the .mac PIM remote syncing. I really want to be able to sync my work PIMs with Activesync and my personal PIMs with .mac remotely since I use multiple macs and my wife and I share personal PIMs. I also think it would be a bit embarrassing for Apple to have the only push option be via a Microsoft product.

The fact that there is limited "push" availability and the iPhone does not offer anything but online java based office applications shows that it is still a work in progress. Hopefully 2.0 will bring lots of goodies, but I am not counting on it.

I would like to have integration of the PIM functions like the ActiveSync demo. That changes made to the iPhone will show up on all the .Mac sync Macs and viceversa, that would make it a killer app. I paid for .Mac to keep my Macs sync but it's expensive for what you get.

Apple should stick a .mac server in OS X server. Then I'd be happy. I'd rather host this stuff on my own machine.

IMO one of the most major annoyances of the iPhone as currently incarnated is its inability to sync PIM data wirelessly. A whole host of phones can sync PIM data to Macs using bluetooth and iSync, but not the iPhone. Additionally, even using cable sync, the iPhone can only sync PIM data to one Mac/Windows PC - so if you enter a new appointment or contact on your iPhone you have to wait until you're within a cable's length of the 'paired' machine before that data gets off the iPhone and is propagated across the rest of your personal computing world (e.g. by the .Mac PIM sync services, which do this flawlessly). iPhone .Mac PIM sync over your cellular network (or Wifi, but Wifi speeds really shouldn't be necessary) would solve both of these problems at a stroke. For sure, the Exchange sync coming with the 2.0 software will do this too, but only if you have access to the the whole back-end Exchange server/ActiveSync set-up. Apple are rightly pushing (:)) Exchange integration but I'd bet a pound to a penny that only a small proportion of the current user base has access to the system.
PIM sync is what I'd most like to see from iPhone .Mac syncing, both because it means new PIM data (stuff entered into the iPhone) would be immediately duplicated (the 'data doesn't exist until it exists in two places' philosophy) and because that data would be immediately available to others (I'm thinking in particular of my on-line calendar, which I use to communicate my availability, appointments and whereabouts to quite a large number of people). As well as PIM sync though I use .Mac services for plenty of other stuff, some of which it would also be good to have play nice with iPhone:
1) Sync of bookmarks, keychains, Notes and Mail accounts, rules, signatures etc. 'Notes' I guess fall into the 'PIM' category, and I'd love to see syncing by .Mac. Keychains also, especially if the 1Password guys come up with iPhone Safari integration (yeah, I know the SDK T&C may prohibit this, but we can dream, and let's wait to see how the third-party limitation thing pans out). Not so bothered about bookmarks, Mail accounts and signatures, which change less frequently and wouldn't benefit a great deal from wireless sync.
2) Nice, simple transfer of photos to the iDisk web space. Works a treat from Aperture and iPhoto and similar nice'n'easy-transfer of iPhone photos would be a pretty cool way to quickly share them, imo. This would involve transferring a fair bit of data though and so with current iPhones (which can't do simultaneous voice and cellular data transmission) would probably only be feasible over Wifi. That's a pretty big restriction, so best to wait for 3G for this?
3) Back to My Mac. This of course has two bits: file transfer between two Macs and screen sharing (VNC). To be useful file sharing would probably require significant changes on the iPhone, not least an exposed file system, so that the user could keep everything organised, and probably the ability to open associated applications by navigating to and tapping a file. Even Mac-to-Mac, screen sharing is more wow than useful for me and, like file transfer, suffers from extreme unreliability - apart from over a local network, it seems to be in the lap of the gods as to whether a connection can be established. To be honest, I'd rather Apple concentrated on getting Back to My Mac working properly with my Macs than started trying integrate iPhone into the system.
4) iDisk file storage. Useful and reliable (if slow) for file transfer between Macs but doesn't really accomplish a whole lot more than a USB memory stick (except that as a backup it's more secure). Again, could be useful down the line of iPhone evolution, but not really yet.
5) Backup. While off-site backup is always a jolly good idea, .Mac PIM sync would accomplish this for PIM data, and I don't really see Apple storing millions of users 16/32 GB media libraries anytime soon .Mac backup is currently far to slow for this anyway.
So I can see real potential in migrating at least some of the current .Mac to the iPhone. I do think though that there may be one major hurdle to this. Thus far, Apple seem to have been quite assiduous in not playing favourites when it comes to Mac iPhone users and Windows iPhone users, possibly because they don't want the iPhone to be seen as 'better if you have a Mac', 'not so good with Windows'. It wouldn't be insurmountable of course to give something equivalent to the .Mac services to those using an iPhone with Windows, but it would certainly involve more work.

Integration amongst products of a brand is mighty important to me. While most people view this as unecessary clutter, to me it's one way of convincing me to buy their product.