It’s great news for many that Apple is offering free email, contacts and calendars, but it irks those people who have recently paid the $99 annual fee for the MobileMe service. Here’s what they need to know, and what Apple hasn’t yet explained.
MobileMe isn’t shutting down. It may be “dead” but Apple is giving everyone who paid for the service another 12 (and a half) months. The company stated that the service will shut down on June 30, 2012.
MobileMe may run for another year, but as of now, there are no new subscribers. Apple is refunding anyone who bought the subscription box with a code, provided they have not yet used the code. If you have the code, or recently paid up, you will simply have the MobileMe service until it shuts down. (If you have a family pack, you can still create family member accounts.)
The much-talked about iCloud service from Apple was officially detailed today by Steve Jobs himself at the Apple WWDC keynote in San Francisco. Apple will now let you store your files on their servers, but the real application for Apple fans here will be the syncing possibilities iCloud opens up, and that’s what Jobs focused on the most in his speech today.
iCloud is free of charge for everyone – iOS device users, Mac users and PC users alike. All devices registered to you will be able to communicate with iCloud, and all applications on your devices will be fully integrated with it. The service will automatically push new data to all of your other devices. Buy an iBook, and it will be automatically downloaded to your other devices. Take a picture, same thing happens. Store a contact on your iPhone, the iCloud pushes it immediately to your iPad.
Almost everything about the iCloud is automatic. Once a day, your data will be backed up to the cloud, wirelessly. This means all of your data – if you buy a new phone, you can enter your Apple ID, and everything saved to your old phone will be automatically downloaded to your new phone.
iCloud has a few little advantages depending on which app you use it with. When reading an iBook, your progress will be automatically pushed to all of your devices, so you can pick up immediately where you left off on your book when you switch between your iPhone, Mac, and iPad. Photo stream will upload your camera roll to the cloud and push to all other devices. This works with PCs, too, using the pictures folder. iOS devices will then store the 1000 most recent photos, due to storage space considerations, while Macs and PCs will store all photos from all devices.
This isn’t a permanent storage solution, though. Files are stored on iCloud for up to 30 days, meaning this is more of a wireless syncing platform with rolling cloud storage. It’s also not a streaming service – files and apps are downloaded to your devices, so no form of media can actually be streamed from the cloud. There will be 5 GB of free storage available to everyone in iCloud, but purchased items like books and music do not count toward that limit.
iCloud seems to be more of a wireless syncing platform than a storage solution, and is certainly not the streaming media center many were hoping for. But, it is fully integrated with all apps, and to say it’s easy to use would be a little misleading. You don’t really use iCloud at all. You set it up on your devices, and it does the rest in the background, pushing new and updated files and apps to all of your devices in (literally) seconds. It is amazingly fast. iCloud will work over Wi-Fi connections, and will completely replace MobileMe, which will cease to exist after iCloud is fully implemented, which will be sometime this fall, alongside iOS 5.
I’m not going to pretend I’m not looking forward to this, but I will miss the MobileMe gallery, if there’s no suitable replacement. And as for the people who paid $99 for a premium service that won’t be premium in three months, I guess Apple is happy to charge you the early adopter tax. Like you’re surprised!