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MobileMe Gets a Facelift Karishma Sundaram | , 10:36 a.m. Feb. 28, 2009 2009-02-28

MobileMe has been launched and re-launched under many names and labels; first starting off as a free Internet suite called iTools, then transforming into .Mac, a paid subscription service and finally ending up as MobileMe in 2008. 

MobileMe is essentially a collection of Internet services designed to integrate various Apple devices like Mac desktops and laptops, iPhones and iPod Touches. However MobileMe was fraught with problems right after the re-launch in 2008, something which Apple is just starting to live down. 

Synchronization

Described as ‘Microsoft Exchange for the rest of us’ by an Apple spokesperson, MobileMe is exactly that. It follows the concept of centralized and remote storage working together in tandem. The central engine keeps track of documents and changes made to those documents. It then compares the latest version with all other copies and, where necessary, syncs connected devices with the most recent information. The centralized storage is depicted as a cloud, where all the information rests. For example, if a user receives an email, that email is sent to all the connected devices. Any change that is made in one of the devices immediately reflects in the others, after being sent to the cloud and then updated. In addition to calendar, contact and other data, MobileMe doubles up as a repository for large files and photographs. Therefore, these files are accessible from any location without being confined to one particular device. 

Essentially, MobileMe fuses a number of Internet services into one cohesive package; a package especially targeted at Apple consumers. There is of course a very definite space limit and quite a few problems in the bargain. 

A really good feature of MobileMe is the ability to access these services from a PC as well. Either by using the web-based interface at http://www.me.com, or by synchronizing the services with Microsoft Outlook, the devices will be updated constantly. 

Photo gallery and iDisk

The photo gallery option is perhaps more sophisticated than the other free options available on the Internet. For instance, when a gallery is created, there are quite a few options that are not available elsewhere: for instance, a friend can add photos to the gallery or download a few as well. Among other more common features, each gallery gets a unique URL as identification and for easy navigation. 

iDisk is the equivalent of a disk drive online, and basically does just that. It stores files which the user can access from anywhere; a very handy feature for those who perennially lose pen drives or do not want to carry a laptop around all the time. Additionally, there is an inherent data security element where, in the result of a computer crash or a virus attack, the online repository may save a few important documents from disappearing altogether. 

iDisk can be accessed from a Windows PC as another disk drive, using an icon in My Computer. It shows up as a networked drive once it has been configured. 

The latest on MobileMe

Initially the time it took to synchronize the devices was too long to be remotely acceptable. Recently Apple has managed to whittle these times down, adding a few other improvements for good measure. Essentially the services remain the same; they’ve just become more efficient and definitely more effective.

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