Thoughts on MobileMe Mail beta after one week.

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I’ve been using the MobileMe Mail beta for a week. These are my impressions so far, in no particular order…

Quick Reply is gone. I used it primarily because Apple’s web mail was glacially slow, and I needed all the help I could get. I haven’t missed it much the last week.

Speed is much improved. I’ve made no secret about how sluggish MobileMe web apps are. Never understood why Live Mail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail and others were so much faster even though they display ads. Performance is now acceptable, and as a beta it may even get better. 

New Views are available to choose from. The one in the screenshot is Compact, it mimics the iPad’s Mail in landscape mode. There’s also Classic (like it was before), and Widescreen (adds a row of folders on the left). Widescreen needs a browser window wider than I’d like it, so I use Compact. 

You Choose a View, Folder, or sort order via the small “menu” above mail previews (in the screenshot, “Switch View”, “Computer (0)”, and “Sort By”, respectively). 

The Toolbar along the top acts as follows (from left to right): 

  • Cloud takes you to the other MobileMe web apps. 
  • Search is self-explanatory. 
  • Trash to delete. 
  • Archive is a new one-button filer. Click on it to move selected email to the Archive folder. If you don’t have an Archive folder, one will be created. My only complaint is that I’d rather choose the name of the folder, since I already had one. Still, I transferred my old archives to the new one. 
  • Move To Folder displays a list of folders for quick filing of selected email. 
  • Arrow drops down Reply, Reply All, or Forward. 
  • Compose opens a window to write emails. 
  • Actions is a menu for Preferences, Rules, Print, marking mail as Read or Junk, etc. 
  • Your Account lets you get details or log out. 

Server Rules. You can set rules that, being server-side, do not require Mail to be running on your Mac for them to work (I always have Mail running on my iMac for this). Sadly, the server rules aren’t as flexible as on the Mac. For example, I can auto-trash emails only by specific email address, not a partial address. There’s also no ability to change colors. 

Junk Mail. I defined my important rules to the server and stopped running Mail on the iMac. What I found is that the rules worked, but the Mac’s Junk mail “rules” aren’t server-side, so my Inbox was getting a lot of Junk. I could go back to running Mail on the iMac all the time, but I’d rather train the MobileMe server to recognize my Junk mail, so I’ve been marking a lot of stuff the last few days. 

Composing. The new compose window has a rich text toolbar for formatting. You can choose font and size, bold, italic, undeline, justification, bulleted lists, indents and add hyperlinks. Also easily attach files from your machine. 

Stability. Not bad. I’ve had it freeze a couple of times, but overall it’s been reliable. Better than I expected for an initial beta. 

Conclusion. It’s a nice improvement. One could argue MobileMe Mail was behind the curve with other web mail apps (it certainly was in performance), and this brings it more up to speed. But that’s pretty much all it does. After taking so long to update the web apps, I wonder if that’s enough. On the other hand, if it stays reliable, is relatively quick, and of course displays no ads, then it easily remains my preference to other web solutions, though I still prefer dedicated mail apps. 

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