As most of you are already aware Apple has completely discontinued any new subscriptions to their MobileMe service. In it’s place will be none other than their new iCloud service. The big question is what does this mean for existing MobileMe customers and what’s the difference between the two?
It seems like a fairly simple question but it’s one that is possibly a bit confusing still since iCloud is so new and doesn’t officially launch until this fall. Nonetheless it’s a transition that is taking place so I thought it would be helpful to get up to speed myself and also help inform our loyal site visitors in the process.
Before proceeding, as I mentioned in my WWDC 2011 coverage post, existing MobileMe box customers do qualify for credits and refunds. Certain terms and conditions do apply. Click here for more information. Hope this helps!
For those of you who are already well versed in what MobileMe is please just skip to the iCloud section.
A Brief History & Description of MobileMe
MobileMe, formerly known as .MAC which was preceded by iTools, is a service that enables users to access personal data through any computer with an Internet connection. Initially when the service was known as .MAC members received a custom @mac.com email address. Once the service switched to MobileMe back in 2008 users were then provided with a new @me.com email address.
Many useful features came bundled with MobileMe including iDisk, Find My iPhone (also compatible with iPad & iPad 2), synchronized address books & calendars and PC synchronization just to name a few.
Costs and demand for both technical support as well as @mac.com email addresses quickly increased which resulted in .MAC becoming a paid subscription based service. This of course remained consistent when the switch was made to MobileMe.
There were a few hiccups along the way with the introduction of MobileMe. It wasn’t exactly the smoothest transition but one that eventually got sorted out. For instance, in the beginning there were some issues with syncing and many people found the service to be unstable. There was also some conflict with the .MAC to MobileMe switch-over which caused customers in some areas of Europe and Australia to be overcharged. Apple did issue refunds though and proceeded by weeding out all of the bugs. Needless to say things went a lot smoother from that point on.
The switch from .MAC was made a month after Steve Jobs introduced the new MobileMe service at the 2008 WWDC. Steve Jobs later claimed the switch was too rushed which was the main cause of all the initial conflicts. Perhaps that’s why this time around Apple is waiting several months to completely switch from MobileMe to iCloud as a smoother and more preventative approach.
What Exactly Is iCloud & How Is It Different?
Ok, so you’ve heard about iCloud by now. Perhaps you’ve read about a few of the key features but still feel somewhat in the dark about what exactly makes it different compared to MobileMe. I will attempt to explain this to the best of my ability. Keep in mind this is all new to me too. Please bare with me as I’m sure there will be somewhat of a learning curve on my end as well. I’ll explain iCloud as I understand it. So let’s begin.
Just like MobileMe completely replaced .MAC, iCloud is the next phase in Apple’s attempts to make their services better, more reliable and advanced. For extended service a paid subscription will be required while the basic service will be free. Whatever service you choose, mail, calendar and contacts will all be free. It’s a service that takes the concept of file-storage, ease of use and accessibility to a whole new level.
Steve Jobs, who needs no introduction, said the following about iCloud at the 2011 WWDC:
Some people think a cloud is just a hard disk in the sky. We think it’s way more than that and we call it iCloud
iCloud acts as a server which can automatically be accessed between multiple devices such as iPads, personal computers, iPhones & iPods. Users can use the service to store items such as applications, iBooks, music, photos, contacts and documents. It also functions as a platform for Apple’s calendar and email services.
Plain and simple, by storing and managing all of your content for you, iCloud pretty much lets you access your data anywhere at anytime. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of manually syncing all of your data. Constantly trying to keep everything up to date between your devices is a thing of the past, iCloud does all of this for you automatically. This in fact has many benefits.
iCloud Extended Service
From what I understand the extended service allows you to scan and match your entire iTunes music library. It supports up to 25k songs which can be automatically synced with your devices. This prevents users from having to purchase the same songs more than once. Any songs you purchase from iTunes can be downloaded to any number of registered devices that you own. You won’t have to worry about disc space as your files will be backed up in iCloud.
I hope this helps you better understand iCloud and it’s purpose as well as features. I’ve been frequenting a lot of forums and reading people’s opinions about iCloud. It seems some people are thrilled about the idea while just as many people are a bit unsure or completely against it.
Here’s how I see it. Similar to when .MAC and MobileMe were introduced, there were a few glitches, changes and bugs that needed to be fixed. Over time people adapted and began to enjoy the new services. I believe the same will apply to iCloud despite the initial reaction from some people. Since it’s not being rushed either it’s possible the transition will be a lot more seamless as well. Once people see how much better it is they will begin to realize that it is in fact an improvement.
If I left anything out or misunderstood anything I researched on this topic please let me know in the comments below. Either way I’d love to hear what you have to say so please speak your mind and express your thoughts on iCloud or anything related to what I mentioned above.