Whew – that was close. Got it done on deadline.
Now it’s official: I’m MobileMe-less.
Whew – that was close. Got it done on deadline.
Now it’s official: I’m MobileMe-less.
If first impressions are everything, then MobileMe never had a chance.
After I bought my iPhone 3G, I signed up for the trial MobileMe account. Back then, it was only a 60-day free trial, but Apple soon added 30 days onto that, and then 30 days onto that, after MobileMe’s launch arrived like a lead balloon.
The idea seemed swell enough: sync your Address Book, iCal, and Mail settings and entries with the ever-present Cloud, and your iPhone. But since July, I’ve run into more problems than solutions, and MobileMe has been a frustrating mess.
My free trial is up on Monday, Dec. 8. I’m going to cancel my account.
Looking back, I never really needed MobileMe to begin with. Because I plug my iPhone into my Mac almost every night, any new entries in either iCal or Address Book get synced each way – from the iPhone to my Mac, and from my Mac to my iPhone. I don’t need the “push” capabilities MobileMe claimed to offer because my syncing schedule was fast enough.
It’s too bad. Apple had a big uphill effort replacing the .Mac service. MobileMe seemed like a decent-enough resolution to everyone’s complaints against .Mac: not much storage, lackluster syncing, no star features that made it seem worth the $99 annual subscription. With it’s modern browser interface and over-the-air syncing, MobileMe looked great on paper. In practice, however, it failed to live up to my expectations.
Maybe it was a lack of habit, but I never found myself missing MobileMe when I wasn’t using it (which was often). If I used my iPhone and Mac for business, the cloud syncing might seem like a bigger deal. But I had a system down, and it worked just fine for me.
The one feature that did catch my eye was the photo sharing galleries. My friend’s wedding photographer put together a beautiful presentation (the subjects helped) using MobileMe’s slideshow capabilities. But again: I don’t really need it. Flickr works just fine as a photo-sharing environment for me. I can make slideshows with Flickr that look fine for my needs. I’m not a wedding photographer. I don’t need anything fancy.
Another thing that bothered me? The fact that
iDisk iDisk Sync [thanks commenters!] takes up the 10 GB of space from my hard drive. Maybe I’m a rare case, but when I launch iDisk, it takes away whatever space is available away from my Mac’s “available” space. Why store things on a fragile cloud when my hard drive works just fine? I love the idea behind iDisk, but my iBook is cramped enough without taking that additional 10 GB away.
Apple’s solution? Don’t use iDisk Sync.
The launch didn’t help things. We all remember that, right? The big outage that first weekend. How it took weeks and weeks of Apple tinkering to get even basic services like e-mail up and running for all MobileMe users. For a while there, MobileMe seemed like a big embarrassing misshap for Apple – right up there with the big system outage for the iPhone 3G’s launch. That kind of thing can leave a bad taste in the mouth. I guess it’s never gone away for me.
Part of me is skeptical about this “cloud computing” stuff. I understand that Google seems to have it down, barring Gmail outages, and – lord bless them – Microsoft is working on their own cloud syncing projects. But Google apps like Gmail are hooked up to my Mail.app, which runs from my desktop, and I don’t often make appointments or add contacts through a web browser. That stuff lives on my Mac. I like that I can edit a contact’s information on my iPhone and the change gets logged in Address Book in OS X. There’s no extra log-in-to-the-web-service involved.
If I had several Macs strung out over several locations, with only my iPhone in common, the idea behind MobileMe could come in handy. Backing up my data to the cloud? Sure. Do it all the time. But easy and reliable syncage still seems to be a giant Work In Progress. I’m not yet impressed.
So thanks for the couple of free months, Apple, but I’m saying “no thanks” to MobileMe. Maybe some day I’ll find a use for it – one where I can justify renewing my subscription. Right now, though, I can’t see any good reason to keep MobileMe around. It’s either been a thorn in my side or a non-starter, and life’s too short for either of those.
To test my MobileMe account’s syncing ability, after getting it up and running yesterday, I ran a simple experiment: schedule a reminder on the iPhone calendar (above, for a Chicago trip this weekend), and watch what happens.
You know what happened? Nothing:
The above screen shot is from iCal, one whole day later. Notice no event scheduled to remind me to “pack for Chicago.” Nope, just a few reminders that were already there. Despite telling MobileMe and the iPhone to sync every hour, MobileMe sent nothing to iCal. And that iCal reminder, the green one about the open house? That didn’t get pushed to the iPhone, either.
Things really started to get weird when I received a phone call. Instead of my contact’s name popping up, the iPhone displayed the number only. It turns out that 90% of my contacts were missing from my Contacts app. Where did they go?
Then, while browsing with Mobile Safari, I found all my book marks missing. All Mobile Safari gave me was the stock bookmark options:
So even though I told MobileMe to sync my contacts, my iCal events, and my Safari bookmarks, none of that made it to my iPhone.
Now, after I turned MobileMe syncing off on the 3G, I can’t get my Mobile Safari bookmarks to show back up – even though I told iTunes to do so:
MobileMe, on my iBook G4 running the latest Tiger install and synced with an iPhone 3G, doesn’t work as advertised. The web version is only a little better. That “pack for Chicago” reminder? It showed up in MobileMe’s web iCal. But my contacts made it from either my iPhone or my iBook just fine – but why wouldn’t they show up on my iPhone?
Surely these are all symptoms others have reported before – but MobileMe actually syncing with Tiger was enough of a treat to try the whole thing out. It turns out, though, that MobileMe probably isn’t for me. Not the way it’s working now, at least.
Every day since I purchased my iPhone and signed up for the free 90-day trial of MobileMe I’ve tried syncing my iBook (running OS X 10.4.11), and every day it gives me the same message: try again, buddy. But, like a mouse hoping the electrified button will bring more cheese, I kept trying.
Finally, this morning, after a friend had sent me an e-mail asking if I liked MobileMe (and right before I sent my reply saying “don’t even think about it”) the .Mac sync screen above showed up. It parsed through my iCal and Address Book settings and sent them to MobileMe Land, which meant I could keep everything on my iBook and iPhone synced. Good news.
Things have gotten so bad that usually-secretive Apple has a MobileMe status blog of sorts from some mysterious employee who received a directive from Steve Jobs: inform the masses. Apologize. Send it via RSS. Keep them In The Know.
In the 14 days since we launched, it’s been a rocky road and we know the pain some people have been suffering. Be assured people here are working 24-7 to improve matters, and we’re going to favor getting you new info hot off the presses even if we have to post corrections or further updates later.
The “pain” part hasn’t been so bad. I use Gmail for e-mail, and my iPhone syncs with my iBook settings every time iTunes syncs it. Before, I thought you had to have MobileMe to, say, add an iCal event on the iPhone and have it appear on your Mac in some form or another. This is false. I’ve found that, just like photos, the iPhone will “push” contact info and calendar events from the phone to the Mac when you plug it in with the USB connector. Which is handy, and doesn’t make MobileMe a necessity. Thank goodness, because MobileMe hasn’t been what we would call “reliable.”
The true test comes in about an hour, when my MobileMe account is scheduled to sync. I added a Calendar (is it iCal on the phone? I get confused…) event on the iPhone, and we’ll see if it shows up in iCal on my Mac sometime in the near future. But even that little note above, where the .Mac preference pane shows the damned thing doing something, is enough to give me hope.
Any other MobileMe syncing successes out there? Let me know in the comments.
[Update to an update: MobileMe is still acting weird, with no end in site.]
That’s probably the best news I’ve received all day: my iPhone is synced and ready to go.
At 10 p.m., I finally got up the nerve to plug the sucker in and give it a whirl. And everything went great.
MobileMe is offering a free 60 day trial for us suckers, so I thought, why not? My System Prefs are still showing .Mac syncing, however, and I imagine it’s because I’m still a OS X 10.4 user. MobileMe is giving me error messages, so I’m not going to get my hopes up. But a free trial is a free trial. What’s the harm.
Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at see, I hope you’re having the same luck I’m having right now – which is good luck. Now I’ve got all weekend to play with the beast.
I always wonder about the Mac Mini.
Every time I see one I want to touch it, and I’m always on the look-out for a cheap enough model to buy. But I wonder how the Mac Mini’s sales are doing.
When it was launched, people predicted the Mini – then a G4 – would sell pretty well. Then, last summer, sites predicted the death of the Mini. Since Leopard was release, the Mini just hangs in limbo.
It’s a shame, too, because people love the pint-sized Mac enough to mod the heck out of it. Media centers, car computers – you name it, someone has put a Mini inside it. But how well does it sell overall?
The original idea was to offer up a below-$1,000 Mac so that Window users, who already own a capable monitor and keyboard/mouse set, could jump ship easily and cheaply. The Mini could run OS X and MS Office software and anything else you could throw at it, and users could expect a machine to help them “learn” the Mac OS without whipping through 40 Photoshop filters at top speed. You knew it was a modest system. You didn’t expect a whole lot.
As it stands today, though, people are switching to Apple – but mostly through the notebook route. What’s the Mac Mini’s role in all this? A new MobileMe-only device? A music server?
Plus, OS X 10.5 requires more powerful hardware, and the Mini’s modest specs seem to not up to the new iMac’s standards, I guess I’m just worried the tiny Mac will get lost in the (non-iPod) shuffle. If sales are sluggish, would Apple just drop it? Would the monitor-less experiment be over? And what about the dreaded xMac?
If anyone knows, I’d love to hear about it.
Lots going on at the WWDC 2008 keynote, which I finally streamed and watched with much joy. Watch it yourself to see all the action, clapping, and skinnier Steve Jobs.
In the meantime, a few thoughts:
Now I have to wait until July 11 (or maybe a day or two after, depending on lines and in-store activation), but oh well. This is what I’ve been waiting for. A true successor to the Newton has been born.
Behold: iPhone 3G
Stressed about the “one more thing” that will be announced this Monday, June 9 at the Worldwide Developers Conference? Fear not. We have a round-up of rumors, damned lies, and fun games to play while you’re waiting for the next big thing.
A Newton 2.0? That’s on the list, kind of.
Snow Leopard strays from PPC. This one was first featured at TUAW.com, but the Cult of Mac guys really touch on what a change Mac users have seen from the days of OS 8 and 9 to now. In short, “The Mac is dead. Long live OS X.”
From .Mac to MobileMe. John Gruber did some snooping and found the new domain names Apple registered. People have been bitching about .Mac for years (I had it for a year, and it was…eh), so this could be pretty exciting.
WWDC banner pictures. That’s right. They’re up, and the speculation is flying. OS X iPhone, anyone?
I’ve decided not to participate in any of the live blogging feeds or constant refreshing of Apple news sites. I’m going to wait until the Quicktime video is released (which I watch faithfully anyway), just so it can all feel new and “just announced” to me. Should be fun.