Transitioning from MobileMe to iCloud

Nice Q&A today from Apple regarding the changes happening as MobileMe transitions to iCloud. Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, Find My iPhone, & Back to My Mac make the cut. iWeb publishing, Gallery, and iDisk don't.

Some of the features on the way out are either being replaced or enhanced through some new features: iTunes in the Cloud, Photo Stream, Documents in the Cloud, Automatic downloads and purchase history for apps and books, & Backup and restore.

Another thing making the cut that a lot of folks were unsure about is web access for Mail, Contacts, Calendars, & Find My iPhone. I'm glad to hear that because I do use that access about once or twice a month. Instead of going to for this access you'll go to

Also on the chopping block are some things that honestly never worked all that well going between one Mac to another: Syncing of Mac Dashboard widgets, keychains, Dock items, and System Preferences.

¶ Lofty Promises

Apple has a habit of changing our lives. They did it in the 70's with the Apple I & II, by aiming to make computing available to everyday people. That same focus leaped forward in 1984 with the advent of the Macintosh. The original iMac mitigated the intimidating aesthetic of computers, breaking up some of the presumptions of everyday folks that computers were beyond them.

Then Apple started creating a bond between our computers and ourselves. They truly started to become personal when Apple heralded the idea of the digital hub. Your computer suddenly became the keeper of things most precious to you: your photos, your music. The video of your child's elementary school play.

The iPod came, giving you a medium to carry a copy of your digital hub everywhere. First, it started with music, something that can move the passion within our souls. Then it added photos, so we could show our friends and family a favorite picture. Then videos were integrated. Iteration after iteration brought more and more of our personal lives with us everywhere.

Then another leap — the iPhone. The ability to remove an abstract interaction with these precious digital memories — no more keyboard and mouse, no more click wheel. You simply touch, swipe, pinch, tap. A natural interaction that a two year old can learn, and also the elderly who were too afraid of the complexity of computers.

The iPad expounded that dream even more, and whether you like the catchphrase or not, something magical did indeed happen. To quote John Gruber:

It’s a shame, almost, that we squandered the term “personal computer” 30 years ago.

How true.

A Digital Divide

Somewhere along the line, amongst the magic, some of the smoke and mirrors that the audience is never supposed to see became apparent. It became too difficult to maintain the illusion of these multiple devices working simply and with little maintenance. The digital hub became the digital burden.

It became too much for a person with multiple devices to remember which device had synced back to their digital hub on their computer at what time and with which content. Complexity tainted the promise of simplicity.

A Lofty Solution

Monday, Apple changed the game. Where the computer served as the digital hub for the last decade and, for a time, worked well, the new hub belonged somewhere else. Technology finally allowed for the rest of us to have something special. A hub that exists in the lofty domain of the "cloud".

Apple's forthcoming iCloud serves as the new hub, and your computer is just another device among your iPhone and iPad in this new vision.

The promise of iCloud takes something that happens on your iPhone — a new photograph, for instance — and effortlessly transmits it to iCloud, which then pushes it to your other devices. The same goes for a new music or book purchase, a bookmark, a freshly composed document. It all happens in seconds, and the user never has to think about what is stored where.

A lofty promise, indeed.

Commitment to the Promise

This isn't the first time Apple has attempted cloud services. I vaguely remember iTools in Mac OS 9. I was young and didn't care enough at the time. I also remember .Mac throughout the better part of my life as a serious Mac user, though I never had a need to subscribe. MobileMe is the most current release of iTools/.Mac, and it was this iteration that finally lured me into Apple $99/year subscription.

The promise of MobileMe was push email, contacts, calendars, and bookmarks. It also provided access to iDisk. For me, MobileMe has been a solid investment. It accomplishes the email, contacts, calendars, and bookmarks syncing between my mac, iPhone, & iPad. That is what I bought it for, and it lives up to the promise for me. iDisk, however, is a disaster. I don't use it for much, and Dropbox is what I turn to for that functionality instead.

Many other folks I know or follow think differently of MobileMe. They hate it. It doesn't live up to the promise in their eyes. Apple itself thinks of it as a failure. Steve Jobs even poked fun at it in the keynote.

It was this juncture in Jobs' keynote that we see that where MobileMe was a bolt-on product that Apple put just enough effort into, iCloud will be a first-rate service that Apple will put everything it has behind.

The commitment was revealed in iCloud's availability and pricing. Where MobileMe was adopted by a small percentage of Apple's user base due to its $99/year cost, iCloud is intended for all users to adopt with the low price of free. This fact alone shows that Apple must be committed to iCloud's success. Apple can't afford to have it fail. Apple's reputation with all its customers will be tarnished if iCloud doesn't live up to its promise.

I, for one, look forward to iCloud with great anticipation. I had a very good run with MobileMe, and if it worked that well without Apple truly focusing on the service, then iCloud should be astounding.

Find My iPhone Becomes Free Service

Find my iPhone is a feature of Apple MobileMe service. MobileMe is a $99 per year subscription service that provides syncing of your calendars, contacts, & bookmarks across your computers and iOS devices, along with an email account, iDisk server storage, photo galleries, and Find my Iphone (or iPod touch or iPad). When Find my iPhone was added as a feature of MobileMe, I thought (and still think) it is a great part of the service.

Say your iPhone slips out of your pocket while you’re sitting at a coffee shop. You leave, and a while later, you reach for your iPhone and have a near heart attack. Never fear, you can hop onto or the Find my iPhone app from another device (say, your spouse’s or your friend’s) and locate your iPhone on a map. From there, you can passcode lock the screen, send a custom message with an alert sound that overrides the volume or mute switch, or, in extreme circumstances, remote wipe the device. This works for iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads.

(It should be noted that if you wipe the device, you won’t be able to track it again. Wiping resets everything to factory condition).

Well, today Apple updated the Find my iPhone app and is allowing any iPhone 4, 4th-Generation iPod touch, or iPad to use that portion of MobileMe for free. Download the app to sign up for an account.

There is a little trick here if you have an older device. Just register your Apple ID on someone else’s current generation device, then delete your info from their device. Once you have registered on a supported device, you can then activate Find my iPhone on any of your older devices.

I’d really like to see Apple open this up for all of their iOS device users, but I understand their desire to encourage folks toward newer devices. Apple is a business, after all.

I recommend that everyone take advantage of the Find my iPhone program. It could save you a lot of panic and headache if you were to ever lose your device.

MobileMe Calendar Officially Gets Overhauled

If you’re a MobileMe subscriber, you may want to go check out the spiffy new web-based [Calendar] redesign that went live for everyone today.

I have been beta testing the new Calendar for a couple months, and I like it a lot. It’s extremely reminiscent of the iPad’s Calendar app.

But a fresh coat of paint on the web-based Calendar isn’t all that is going on. MobileMe Calendar has been migrated to an all-new backend, which I believe is CalDAV. There’s a number of new features which you can read about, but my favorite is the ability to share a calendar with someone else and allow that person to edit it as well. As my son gets older, he’ll inevitably have play dates and sporting events and such, and it will be nice for my wife and I to both be able to edit a calendar for him.

It’s nice to see Apple continuing to improve MobileMe into a better product with these redesigns. Now let’s hope for an iDisk overhaul.

Lions, MacBooks, Predictions! Oh My!

As I noted earlier, Apple’s Mac event is just a week away, and the invite is highly suggestive of two things:

  1. New Aluminum MacBook Pro’s and/or MacBook Air, and
  2. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

The majority of the invite itself looks like the lid of a an aluminum Mac notebook, with the Apple logo freshly cut out (I’d love to get my hands on one of those scrap Apple logos). And then there is the lion peeking out. And let’s face it, I don’t think Apple will stick with the cat theme for Mac OS 11, so my bet is definitely on Mac OS X 10.7.

Needless to say, I have my hopes and dreams…

New Mac Portables

MacBook Pro

I suspect there will be slight refreshes to the MacBook Pro. Faster processors, bigger batteries, USB 3, and maybe even higher resolution screens (maybe even 16:9). Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if the Pro line took a page from the MacBook Air and moved the optical drive to an external accessory. I rarely use my optical drive, and would love to use that space for something else.

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air has always been an enigma to me — super light & portable but severely underpowered and overpriced. Also, with the 13-inch screen, a 13-inch MacBook Pro seems like a better investment.

For weeks there have been rumors that the Air may go to an 11.6-inch screen. I think this seems right. Shrink the screen, shed even more weight, give it the all-glass trackpad like the MacBook and MacBook Pros, and for crying out loud, figure out how to squeeze more than one USB port in the thing.

And hey, if the price can be chopped further, I think you may have something neat on your hands.


Whenever there is news of an upcoming major update to Mac OS X, I always find myself at a loss for what Apple could possibly add to make it better. And, of course, I am always blown away. Last time, for Snow Leopard, I was blown away by the cost — $29. Once installed, Snow Leopard blew my mind with the overall “super polished” responsiveness. Even though there wasn’t a great deal of new features, it was obvious there was a lot of refactoring under the hood.

For Lion, I can only fathom a couple things that seem like shoe-ins.


Apple’s giant drum to parade around this year is FaceTime. It’s in the iPhone 4 and the latest iPod touch. I also think it is going to be in the next iPad.

For years, we’ve had video calls in iChat on Mac OS X. However, right now, FaceTime isn’t getting a lot of my attention since I can’t do a video call with my relatives who don’t have an iPhone 4 or new iPod touch. Lion will likely change this. I bet iChat will gain FaceTime support for video calls to Apple’s mobile devices.

Hey, maybe Apple will give iChat a much needed facelift while they are at it.


Apple has been slowly adding Multi-Touch to the Mac over the years. Mostly, this has remained exclusive to Mac portables, but recently came to the desktop with the advent of the Magic Trackpad (which I love, by the way).

I think Apple will eventually bundle the Magic Trackpad with the iMac as the default pointing device, likely around Lion’s release, as I am sure it will utilize a fair amount of Multi-Touch interaction.

I am unsure how extensive Multi-Touch will permeate within Lion, but I’d wager it will be a foundational release to eventually move away from the traditional mouse for good.

iOS Integration

One thing I appreciate about my Mac apps that have iOS counterparts is the ability to sync their data via WiFi. The problem is that this is cumbersome. You have to launch the Mac app and the iOS app and have both devices on the same network in order for them to sync.

Some apps, such as 1Password have taken to using services like Dropbox to sync data cross device and cross platform, without requiring the user to do anything beyond the initial setup.

That is a much more fluid and transparent way of doing things. I hope Apple provides a method for developers to easily hook into a drop dead easy way to sync information from a Mac to an iOS device. Label this as hopeful.

MobileMe Included

Apple has been building a gigantic data center on the east coast for some time. I have long wondered if that was either for a streaming iTunes service, or for a free MobileMe. Overall, MobileMe is much better than .Mac, which it replaced, with one glaring exception – iDisk. It is slow and just plain doesn’t work all that well.

I’d really like to see iDisk get overhauled to be a lot like the aforementioned Dropbox. That would actually facilitate that iOS syncing integration pretty well.

My hope would be that MobileMe would move to being free with Lion, but I do actually feel like I get my $100 per year out of it. The advantage of making it free is that more users would adopt the technology, making for a leaner, cleaner experience. Also, iOS device owners on Windows may feel more inclined to have that seamless integration between Mac OS X and iOS.

UI Refresh

Undoubtedly, a major Mac OS X revision brings some fresh UI paint. Maybe I’m crazy, but iTunes always seems to be the forerunner for design choices that later find their way to Mac OS X. Particularly, I am think of the “traffic lights” going vertical, and the title bar possibly going by the wayside. It seems to work well in iTunes, though I am unsure how well the removal of the title bar would fare in other places, such as Safari (that is, unless, Tabs on Top finally made their reappearance).

I can definitely see the traffic lights going vertical. I’d bet a nickel on it.

iLife and iWork

Who knows, maybe we’ll see fully 64-bit updates and overhauls to Apple’s two famous software suites. I know I wouldn’t mind seeing both of these appear.

That’s my wish list and educated guesses.

MobileMe Redesigned; Find My iPhone App Released

A few weeks ago, Apple opened up a beta for a redesigned MobileMe Mail on the web. After a few hours of maintenance last night, MobileMe has closed the Mail beta, made the new design available for everyone, and updated the navigation across all the web apps. 

When you see the new Mail, it looks very much like the iPad’s version of Mail. In fact, the redesigned navigation elements are reminiscent of iOS as well. The new Mail features widescreen and compact views, server-side rules, single-click archiving, formatting toolbar, faster performance, increased security, support for external email addresses, and improved junk mail filtering.

The navigation elements will keep two items consistent across the different web apps: a cloud icon on the elft to switch between apps (also achievable with shift-esc), and your name on the right. Clicking on your name will give you access to help, account settings, and signing out.

Find my iPhone also saw two developments during the downtime. First, the web app within MobileMe has been redesigned to show just a sidebar with your devices, and a map taking up the rest of your browser window. Once a connection has been made with your lost device, you can send a message with a two-minute sound that plays regardless of whether the device’s sound is muted. You can also remotely lock it with a PIN code, or if it looks as if the device will be unrecoverable, you can send a command to wipe the phone. Wiping the phone will make any future attempts to locate it with Find My iPhone impossible.

Find My iPhone also received an iPhone, iPod touch, & iPad universal app. I think this is good to have. Previously, if you left your iPhone in a coffee shop, but were unsure, you’d have to find a Mac or Windows PC to perform the Find My iPhone actions on it. Now, let’s say I leave my phone in a coffee shop, now I can just grab my iPad or my wife’s iPhone and locate it, lock it, and display a message really quick. This is definitely the app you hope you never have to use, but it is one of the reasons MobileMe is worth it in my book.

Finally, I didn’t notice any other enhancements to any of the other web apps. Hopefully the MobileMe team in Cupertino will set their sights on refreshing the others. Especially iDisk (is it too much to ask to make it like Dropbox?).

MobileMe Opens Up a Can of Beta

This morning Apple announced changes to MobileMe’s web client for Mail at The new features aren’t live yet, but you can sign up for the beta when you log in to your MobileMe account online. 

Here’s what we know so far:


  • Widescreen & compact views. When reading your mail at, the new widescreen view lets you see more of each message with less scrolling. Choose compact view to hide your folders or classic view to see more of your message list.
  • Rules to keep your email organized everywhere. Mail rules help you reduce inbox clutter by automatically filing messages into folders you select ahead of time. Set them up at, and your rules organize your incoming email on the web and everywhere else — on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and PC.
  • Single-click archiving. Click the Archive button and the selected message is quickly filed into the Archive folder where it’s always available for future reference.
  • Formatting toolbar. You can create great-looking email messages using formatting buttons to bold or italicize text, change font color, insert images, and more. You can even create formatted web links to hide long URLs.
  • Improved performance. Mail at loads your inbox and messages faster. And with interface refinements such as the ability to scroll through your entire inbox without having to manually click to load the next set of messages, you’ll be able to work more efficiently.
  • Increased security with SSL. With the MobileMe Mail beta, accessing your email on the web is more secure than ever. Your inbox is protected to prevent anyone from eavesdropping on your webmail. As always, you receive SSL protection when you use your MobileMe Mail account on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and PC.

The widescreen view will be very nice, and more iPad-like. But the two things from that list I am most excited about are server-side rules and a true Archive function. Having rules server-side will be fantastic since that will trickle down to my Mac, iPhone, & iPad. Archive will also be nice (as I already have a folder set up to mimic that). One has to wonder if Apple will update Mail on iPhone, iPad, & the Mac to have a dedicated Archive button like the web client will have. (I’m hopeful).

Apple has also compiled a small list of FAQs. I’m looking forward to taking the beta for a spin once I get my invite! What do you think? Sound off in the comments.


Find My iPhone, from an iPhone

iPhone and iPod touch users will notice a revamped landing page when directing Mobile Safari to MobileMe today. Instead of just informing users they can access MobileMe syncing functions from the Settings on their iPhone or iPod touch, a few more options are available. Now present are links for instructions on setting up MobileMe services on your device, links to download Apple’s iDisk or Gallery app on the App Store, and the ability to use Find My iPhone.

Find my iPhone should be handy if, say, your significant other or friend also has an iPhone or iPod touch, and you need to lock down your device right away, especially if you aren’t near a computer.

It’s a nice addition, and one that hopefully won’t be needed too often.


Impressions: iPhone Software 3.0 [Updated]

iphone3iPhone Software 3.0 was released yesterday, as I am sure many of you know (since you’ve likely been using it on your iPhone or iPod touch). I thought I’d just quickly jot down some first impressions.

First off, I am a copying & pasting machine! I never realized how much information I’ve wanted to be able to transplant across apps. It certainly makes things a lot easier. Protip: If you have a lot of text you want to delete, rather than holding down the delete key on the keyboard, highlight the text with the cut, copy & paste selector, then just tap delete. Very handy.

I’m also enjoying the landscape keyboard that is now available in Apple’s core apps. This is great for tapping out a semi-lengthy email. Now I only wish Twitterrific supported it.

(And for you Tweetie users, yes, I know Tweetie does Landscape, but it’s an either/or in the settings. I want it to rotate based on the accelerometer’s orientation. Sometimes the compact keyboard is useful, like when you have a child in one arm and you have to type one handed.)

(And I just prefer Twitterrific’s User Interface, but I digress.)

Spotlight search is a dream. Such a super fast way to hop around the phone.

A couple super neat unadvertised features: When viewing a contact, there is now a Share Contact button that will open a new Mail message, and attach a vCard. This is great for trading your “business card.”

Also, Calendar syncing now support calendars from multiple sources. As a MobileMe user, I have enjoyed having my email, calendar, contacts, and bookmarks pushed to and from my device. The sad thing is MobileMe doesn’t support subscription calendars. In iCal on my Mac, I subscribe to a US Holidays calendar, and I also have iCal automatically pull Birthdays from Address Book. In iPhone Software 2.x, if you had MobileMe on, that was it (unless you also had Exchange. Now, in iTunes, I can have my main calendars using MobileMe, but can also select and sync US Holidays and Birthdays from my Mac when I connect the USB cable.

Friends, I should see your birthdays a lot easier now, as I check my calendar mainly from my phone.

So, speaking of MobileMe, there are a couple new features on that front. The coolest is the new Find My iPhone feature. This is live now, and I tested it by hiding my iPhone, then having my wife go and find it. The premise is that if you lose your iPhone, you can just log into MobileMe on the web, and Find My iPhone will track down your iPhone and display its approximate location on an embedded Google map. You can then send a message to the screen of the iPhone like, “I’m lost! Please call my owner at 555-555-5555.” and then phone will beep whether or not it was in silent mode.

If you truly can’t get your phone back, then you can remote wipe the data on it.

The second new MobileMe feature is an iDisk app. This is labeled as Coming Soon. Basically, it will be a free app on the App Store that allows you to view the contents of your iDisk and even send a Share link for a file to a friend or colleague .

That pretty much sums up some of the initial things that have tickled me in the past day with iPhone Software 3.0. What are your fancies? Leave a message in the comments.

Update: Here’s an important change from iPhone 2.x. In iPhone 2.x to force quit an app you had to hold down the home button for 6-8 seconds. Since the iPhone 3G S hardware uses that command for its Voice Control feature, Apple has changed the command to force quit an app on all iPhone OS 3.0 devices. Now, if an app hangs and you need to Force Quit, you have to first hold down the Sleep/Wake Button until you see the red slider, THEN release that button and hold down the Home button for 6-8 seconds to Force Quit an app.

WWDC 2009: A Parade of Awesome!

Three days ago, Apple held the keynote address of its Worldwide Developer’s Conference, and all I have to say is that it was a Parade of Awesome! That’s all I have to say. You can go about your regularly scheduled browsing now. I’m kidding! Of course I have the interesting highlights for you.

I waited to write this until I had time to watch the keynote video, as I prefer to get my source material first-hand, instead regurgitating all the other blogs. Call me old-fashioned.

The first thing that caught my attention was when Phil Schiller, Senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing, said that the number of active OS X users in 2007 was 25 million people and that number in 2009 is 75 million users. That is a lot of growth. Apple’s doing pretty well.

This post got pretty long, so I’m inserting a jump here for visitors to the main page.