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.
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!
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.
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.
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