Gruber nails it… MobileMe

Gruber speaks here on one of my favourite topics, Apple’s venerable MobileMe service.

Mobile Me. It’s great for syncing your iPhone to your Mac, but what’s the point of Mobile Me’s Web apps? If you’re at your computer, you use Mail and Calendar. If you’re out and about, you’re supposed to use the iPhone. Gruber has a sneaking suspicion Apple put apps up on the Web because “that’s what the kids were talking about.” It’s like the lounge singer, he says, who grows long sideburns after Elvis Presley arrives.

I think the point he’s missed is that MobileMe’s web services are for when you don’t have your computer with you, or you don’t have an iPhone, but I take his point – that doesn’t happen very often now, why would you leave home without your iPhone?

I’ve written long into the night concerning my love-hate relationship with Apple’s syncing service.

I now feel that I can recommend it, however it still seems as a whole, to be lacking a certain cohesion.

Certainly when adding up all the separate parts, it is very good value, but there are still some gaps.

A decent notes sync for a start. I won’t go into the shortcomings, and half-assed attempt by Apple to give us notes syncing, but it’s certainly not up to scratch.

The workaround I have is to keep all the notes as text files on my iDisk, and then edit them on my Macs with a text editor, and on the iPhone with an Office app that allows creating, editing and savings files to your iDisk over wifi & 3G.

Back To My Mac that actually works. I can’t get through my workplace’s arcane Windows server, so BTMM is a non-starter for me. I don’t see why it has to be this way. As a back-up I use the free ‘logmein‘ website, so I can log into any Mac on my network, remotely, with no configuration whatsoever – it just works. Why BTMM needs special configuration of the router is beyond me. Actually it’s not, I understand what need to be done, I just don’t see the reason why it needs to be done.

Coming back to the cohesion problem, MobileMe seems to be a good range of separate ideas, but they don’t gel together.

You have the web apps, the iPhone apps and the Mac apps. Some sync together (iCal, Address Book), others do not (Notes). Some exist on one platform (Notes on the iPhone and in Mac Mail), but not the other (no web apps for Notes).

To me ‘the cloud’ concept isn’t clearly being followed through. Apple need to have 3 clear clients:

  1. MobileMe capable apps for the Mac
  2. MobileMe capable apps for the iPhone & iPad
  3. MobileMe capable apps for the web apps

Each app needs to be comparable to that platform, so if you had the iWork app ‘Pages’ on the Mac, then there is a comparable app on the other devices (as feature-rich as the platform allows).

Any new app is released on all platforms simultaneously – that is absolutely vital – true cloud computing, your content, anytime, any situation, anywhere.

And most importantly – they all need instant sync between each other, pulling from the cloud.

That is a MobileMe service I’d be willing to pay for – maybe even a bit more for.

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11 comments

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