Walkthrough: MobileMe on your iPhone

What is MobileMe?

MobileMe, Apple, Inc.'s answer to the consumer-based "push" concept has launched today. MobileMe comprises of web-based applications that not only synchronize with their desktop counterparts, but also "pushes" updates to other computers including calendar appointments, address book entries and Safari bookmarks. Windows-based PC's and Apple's OS X can be used to synchronize this information between platforms. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch (using Wi-Fi) you can receive these updates instantly on your device without having to synchronize with your desktop.

MobileMe Setup

After unboxing and setting up my iPhone 3G, I got straight to work on configuring MobileMe. One of my initial concerns was how the information will sync to my new iPhone from iCal, Address book and my Safari Bookmarks without duplicating information. iTunes handles the synchronization process, and I figured that between synchronizing iTunes and sending the same updates out, there was bound to be a duplicate somewhere. As it turns out, MobileMe disables synchronizing this information from iTunes. Instead, it gets "sent to the cloud" and is then pushed to the appropriate devices. 

First, you have to turn on MobileMe from System Preferences in OS X. The options are identical to Apple's precious synchronization effort, .Mac. After choosing what you want to sync, the fun begins!

Adding Information

After turning on MobileMe and synchronizing in iTunes, I noticed that all of my information was missing on my iPhone. Calendar, gone. Contacts, gone. Nothing. I immediately opened those respective applications on my Mac. Thankfully, they were there and intact. I procrastinated a second and began to look at the web experience of MobileMe. Just as I started to type the URL into the address bar, I looked at my iPhone (I kept the Calendar application up when I left it on the table after freaking out) and noticed my appointments showed up. What? I then looked at Address Book. What again? That is right, within about a minute; my calendar, contacts and bookmarks were synced to my iPhone. I could not believe it. 

This was very impressive. I then proceeded to the obvious: I added and appointment on the iPhone. No sooner than launching iCal on my Mac desktop, the new appointment appeared. Next I proceeded to add a whole new calendar to MobileMe on the web. I clicked the “+”, picked a color and I was off to the races. I added and appointment for fun, and again without fail, a few moments later, the new calendar WITH appointment showed up on my iPhone and iCal. This service behaves as advertised.

One of the nice new features that I am enjoying on the iPhone is that the calendars that are synchronized also keep their colors. For example, I assign green to my personal calendar, blue to my work calendar and red to my wife’s work calendar. These colors and calendars all get synchronized across platforms. When creating an appointment on the iPhone, you can now designate which calendar you would like the appointment to belong to.

Synchronizing with Microsoft Exchange

My next question I asked my self was, “If I used Microsoft Exchange at work, could I also use MobileMe with that too?”. The answer is yes. MobileMe and your Exchange information can live on the same device, but only if you are a paid subscriber of the MobileMe service. If you are not and try to synchronize your personal iCal data and Address Book information, Exchange will win that rock-paper-scissors battle and wipe them out, leaving the Exchange information only.

Summary

I can’t be happier with MobileMe so far. There is more to this service including online photos and a web-based version of iDisk, but I will discuss this further in a full review at a later date. In the meantime, enjoy MobileMe and enjoy the freedom that it offers.

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Chad Garrett

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

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Reader comments

Walkthrough: MobileMe on your iPhone

26 Comments

great write up. the only problem ive had was the same as everybody else. couldnt get in yesterday. push worked off and on, but seems to be working today. and it works a lot faster with firefox than safari. oh, and the subscription ical events dont sync.

help!...I don't have the contacts that are on my first generation iphone stored anywhere else...how do i push the the contacts that are only on my phone to the Mobile Me cloud so i can then sync the cloud with my new 3G iphone?

vvelvetelvis: I think the big bummer, if their is one, is that on iCal and MobileMe you can create a task, yet it does not show up at all on the iPhone. Why Apple, why?
Benji: Oh snap. This is a tough one. I would sync the device to a PC or Mac. It should give you the choice to "Merge" the info. Good luck!

nothing working for me. Still have the .Mac icon in system preferences and not the mobileme one. Have no idea what the problem is !

I am trying mobileme out. Here are my thoughts/concerns:
1) I'd really like a way to "publish" my calendar. That is, have some way of letting certain people access my calendar and see what I'm doing, invite me to events/remind me of things I'm supposed to do without giving them full ona ccess to my whole account. This was advertised as "exchange for the rest of us" and the ability to send out invites is probably my favorite thing about exchange.
My basic idea would be something like the following. There would be a way for anybody to be able to type in www.mobileme.com/user/FJR. Then they would have the option for viewing/adding pictures (pending password restrictions), accessing your idisk (again, pending restrictions), accessing your calendar with options to view or send invitations to you, and even requesting that you add a contact. THis would then be pushed to your devices, for instance on the iPhone a little 1 would show up on the calendar for a pending invitation, a little 1 would show up on your contacts for a pending contact, etc.
As is its a nice service, but I think its pretty far from "exchange for the rest of us".

I lost my e-mail from my .Mac e-mail but for some reason it stayed in MobileMe. What happened? How can I fix this?

If you're traveling & ADD new contacts, they'll be wiped out next time the phone syncs! So, what is the use, the purpose of the phone, as the name suggests, is to be mobile! Any mobile entries are deleted by this horrible service & they just added the warning to their setup website after I experienced this and complained, but it is item 4 when it should be item 1!!!! This happens even with the synch button before mobile me in installed! By the time you read it, all your phone data is permanently wiped out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I lost all my contacts with no recovery possible! No live person at mobile me. 24-48 hours for a "chat" response! What a joke! That is not even email that is snail mail and certainly NOT LIVE CHAT!!! What a sham! Mobile me rejects old user name and password and rejects reset. even when reset by mobile me, you can then open the mobile me but is you press contacts, it reverts to the same password error and they are offering no tech support! It has been 48 hours of trying to get help with none offered. If you have a G5 you have to plug the i phone into the back plug because it is not designed to work with the front plug!!!!!!!!!! They don't disclose this, they just let it destroy your data! When the apple store set up my phone during the purchase, they did not set up the most important thing, voice mail! Voice mail does not automatically remain like it did with my old ATT phones on the ATT service. They don't tell you this! I drove out of town to an appointment that had been canceled. My clients were leaving messages into cyberspace!!!!!!!! This whole experience has been horrible. I went to the store where I paid $1,000 between programs and phone and was refused service. Once they get your money, they snob you off, deny their technical problems and blame the consumer. I hope your stock falls! You do not deserve a rise in stock if this is how you do business!

The invites that are sent from a 2003 microsoft exchange server are visible in mobileme mail but do not appear in the mobile me calendar. Thoughts?

Good question Steve. Unfortunately, I use GroupWise and a BES. So there is no way for me to test what is happening in your situation. I WISH I was in your situation.. meaning I used Exchange :-)

My mobile me is syncing between my mac and 'the cloud' fine for emails and contacts, but IT DOES NOT WORK FOR CONTACTS OR CALENDARS ON MY IPHONE...!
I have all the push settings correct, but as I have over 200 contacts in my me account, I don't really want to have to manually enter each one into my iphone...it is truly annoying! I have tried calling apple support and they refer you to email .me support, but they have not replied for over a week....CAN ANYONE HELP PLEASE?!!!

Great, synced iphone with mobile me and it immediate wiped all my contacts. That's hours wasted down the drain. Who did Apple hire from Microsoft to make this feature?

Hi, I am working with mobile me since one week. It works fine with my iMac and iPhone 3G but absolutely doesn't works with the old iPhone updated to 2.0 firmware. It syncs all the information in email, contacts and calendars just one time when I create the account. Then it stops to work even when I am connected to a WiFi network. Is there somebody who has an answer ?

Hi, I just got a new computer and iPhone 3g. I go to mac.com on my old I phone and it only goes to this stupid welcome page. I can boy go to mobilme to upload contacts or music so I can get them to new phone and computer. Did I mention my old lap top was stolen. Please help me I have about a bizillion contacts and lots of music. Could someone help me before I throw my phones in the river and start using smoke signals :)

I am having problems with a couple of my users who are running iPhone 3g. Since the new simplified setup they are unable to download attachments from the Exchange server. I am using an older iPhone and can download attachments without any difficulties. Anyone have experience with this?

my sync is working too well!!
I now have two set of each of my personal, work & do-nut-diet calendars. No duplicate events, but I have to view all of them to not miss any appontments. I'll try tranferring and deleting the duplicates.

How do I get my photos taken from the iphone using mobileme? Syncs everything else but the PHOTOS. Don't know what I'm doing wrong! None of my photos on my iphone show up on the mobile me website. any suggestions?

Apple has to fix a problem I have. If you do not sign out of MobileMe before you sync your phone, it resets all of your ringtones to default. I have a ton of Ringtones, (thanks Garage Band), and it is a pain to reassign them every-time I sync.

I have Iphone 3GS with some calendared dates saved. Now I have a MacBook Pro and MobileMe Subscription. I spent the day entering appointments and events to iCal, and when I sync'd, my phone calendar was replaced with iCal info. So I guess it doesn't actually sync. Is there a way to sync the phone info to mobileme and then to the MacBook, or whatever is easier, to avoid re-entering all the data from phone to MacBook. (I'm a new convert, obviously.) Surely, it there must be an easier way, right? ;)

unfortunately many people are finding that mobileme was never meant for mission critical business use. In my case this customer has lost over 4000 contacts to MobileMe before coming to me for help. Oh and backup your data before using this or any service. The general Mac attitude is "nothing will ever break on my Mac so why would I back anything up?" I also have Mac owners come to me with Spyware on their computer and say "Well of course I have no virus protection, Macs can't get viruses". Sounds like fertile hunting grounds to me...be careful.

I have a global webhosting business and I decided to go local. I added a Pinoy to my business name and even before I was ready, I got queries already. True a name means a lot.