The iPad’s file sharing capability is nice, but it requires iTunes, so it’s really only good for the machine the iPad is synced to. To share files with other machines I can use iWork.com or email, but a direct read/write approach would be more useful.I think that should begin with iDisk. The iPhone’s iDisk app has been around a while. You see all the files, but it’s a read-only gig. That’s fine for the iPhone, where editing documents is not very practical (sorry, Documents To Go, it’s true). The iPad changes that. I want iDisk for iPad to list every installed app that can share files (like iTunes does). When I tap one, show me the app’s files on the iPad, and let me copy them to the iDisk. Likewise, I want to copy files from the iDisk to the app’s iPad directory. C’mon Apple, make this happen. You haven’t released iDisk for iPad yet; I hope this is what you’re working on.
Good article on Apple’s MobileMe service.
Apple has finally assembled a set of features for its hosted MobileMe service that makes it worth its subscription fee for the right user. As a critic of the service in the past, I find myself with naught but praise these days.
I agree with the author. I was a critic of MobileMe when it first transitioned from MobileMe. In fact, I was critical of it before the bigger guns joined in. But over the course of nearly a year and a half it has become an indispensable tool I rely on daily.
Take a look at the chart below. Spanning three Macs, three iPhones, an iPod touch, and three PCs, look at all the information MobileMe is holding together for me:
The purple Ws denote using the web interface, the red Xs denotes using Webdav disk or other method to access documents on iDisk.
Notice that there’s one component I choose to keep consistent across every item: calendars. It’s amazing that any change made on any of the 10 devices will show up on the others in just a minute or two. Yes, it “just works”.
And setup is a breeze. Tying this all together was little more than visiting a system preference on the Macs, logging into MobileMe, and checking a few boxes. On the iPhone it’s pretty much the same, and on the PC there’s a MobileMe control panel to install. You set, then forget, it just keeps in sync after that; I never have to think about it.
I’m not even using every sync feature. I could also sync Dashboard widgets and Preferences across the Macs. I don’t do so only because the varying screen sizes means I use different widgets and prefs on these machines.
Further, I use other features not listed on the chart, like the excellent “Find my iPhone”, and the ability to wipe data off a device. I have these features enabled on all four mobile devices. It’s great.
Some people balk at MobileMe because they claim Google or Yahoo or Microsoft provide email, contacts and calendars for free. True, but MobileMe does so using powerful native apps on Macs and the iPhone, and is so much more than just email anyway.
Bottom line is I’d have to collect numerous third-party apps (e.g., mail, drop box, Google sync, etc.) to try to get all the above items in sync, and they still wouldn’t cover all the bases or be anywhere near as easy to administer. I consider MobileMe a bargain, and can’t imagine my computing/mobile life without it.
Next up in my discovery series on Snow Leopard is MobileMe. Apple didn’t talk about it much for this upgrade, but I’m writing about it because I ran into a frustrating snag, and found a great new option.
Bad News First
I keep a local iDisk on both my Macs. I use the data on whichever machine I want, and never worry about it being current because MMe keeps it all in sync. The beauty of this approach to Cloud computing is that I’m not at the whim of the Cloud in terms of whether performance is slow, or if I can even log in at all. Further, since I’m using local data I get great performance, and can use desktop apps with capabilities that exceed Cloud alternatives.
Since I launch some apps via documents, I kept a handful of document aliases in the iDisk’s Documents folder. These aliases would point to the correct local file no matter which Mac I opened them from. Not any more.
On Snow Leopard, if I used an alias on one machine, the other would balk when it tried to sync it. I could override it, but the resulting synced file was garbage text instead of a functioning alias for that machine. It took some experimentation with three different aliases to confirm this was the problem. I could no longer get a good alias for one machine if it worked on the other.
To get around this, I deleted the aliases from iDisk and created them locally on each machine. They don’t sync, of course, but they don’t need to.
This really isn’t a big deal, but it was frustrating today as I tried to figure out what was going on. Anyway, since I deleted the aliases iDisk syncs have been fine. No more errors and all seems well.
And Now For The Good News
Personally, I think Apple should have shouted from the rooftops that MobileMe iDisk syncing has a new option:
This is great. I don’t get a lot of sync errors, but when I do I can’t think of a single time that I didn’t take the most recent version of the file. From now on, if the sync issue is due to a time discrepancy I won’t even be bothered.
I understand the idea behind any discrepancy stopping the process and prompting the user, but I also believe that some of the prompts are overkill. In my opinion, having the option to always use the most recent file is a great addition.
AT&T delivered my new iphone 3G S on June 19th as promised. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how to activate it (should I swap the SIM card from the old phone?) and it didn’t come with any documentation to that effect. Ultimately, since there was a sticker on the box with my phone number, I assumed AT&T did what they needed to do, so SIM-swapping was unnecessary.
I plugged it into iTunes, and saw the (common) message that it needed activation and that could take a while. I’d read this could take up to two days, so I kind of expecetd it. No biggie, since I could still sync it, put it on WiFI, etc.
I took the option to restore it from the latest backup (of my current iPhone). This worked great, with all my apps brought over, including all my settings and their positions on the various home screens. Connecting it to my home WiFi network, my Microsoft Exchange account asked for a password, and it was all set. MobileMe did as well, but it claimed it could not get a secure connection to the server. The Inbox worked, but I could not see or interact with any other folders in my account.
Without MobileMe I don’t have bookmarks, contacts, etc., but I used Safari to browse to some sites and could see the speed improvements. Then I tried Tweetie and it failed. Like MobileMe, it could not get a secure connection. So I deleted it, thinking maybe it just needed re-installing. To re-install it I went to the App Store. Connecting there was fast, and so was browsing, but when I went to purchase Tweetie it failed because it could not get a secure connection.
So I have a phone on my own WiFi network that somehow cannot connect securely. I’ve tried:
- Turning off SSL for MobileMe email, but it still won’t connect.
- Blowing away the MobileMe account and re-added it, but that was no help.
- Double-checking all network settings, but everything is fine (and matches my existing phone which works great).
- Turning off 3G and hard-resetting the device. No help.
I do not know if — and do not see why — activation would have any bearing on secure connections via WiFi, but at this point I’ve decided not to trouble-shoot the secure connection issue any further until the phone is activated and I verify the problem persists.
So I’m waiting…
It’s been nearly 24 hours and I’m waiting.
[UPDATE:] I visited my local AT&T and they got it activated. That’s the good news. The bad news is that — as I feared — this didn’t address the secured network connection issue. So I’ve now got a valid phone but no contacts, email, bookmarks, etc.
[UPDATE #2:] After resetting Network Connections and a few other tricks failed, I found a forum post that said to click OK on the initial error about an invalid certificate, and then just wait. According to the post, it would take a while but the phone would chew on it and apparently reset its certificate. Well, it worked, and everything is working now. To be honest, I think I had done that yesterday, so it’s possible it only worked in conjunction with many other things I tried today.
One of the things demoed by Phil Schiller when MobileMe was introduced was the ability to easily share files on your iDisk with others. The idea was that you’d select a file on the iDisk, choose to share it, and you’d have a couple of options:
- Password protection
- An expiration date for the link
Then you key in the email address(es) of those you want to share the file with, and they’d get an email with a download link.
It all looked pretty slick, but there was just one little thing wrong: When MobileMe went live, this feature was MIA.
Apple’s documentation for changes in the recent 10.5.6 system update includes a line of interest to MobileMe users on the Mac:
Contacts, calendars, and bookmarks on a Mac automatically sync within a minute of the change being made on the computer, another device, or the web at me.com.
So we now have “push” for those items on the desktop, as we’ve always had on the Web and the iPhone. That’s good news.
However, the MobileMe changes go deeper than that. Apple didn’t just change Contacts, Calendars and Bookmarks to “push” distribution (for Macs only), they changed the sync times for all items in the MobileMe control panel, and also made changes to the MobileMe service itself. Let’s take a look…
Recently MacLife magazine reviewed Apple’s MobileMe service. My problem with the review is that it lists something as a negative that continues to spread misinformation:
Doesn’t “push” your email instantly, rather every 15 minutes.
This is wrong. In this article I’ll touch on what gets synced with MobileMe, when it occurs, and why I’m happy with it.
There’s been some discussion about the possible “dangers” or problems of Cloud computing. Some of it, though not all, stems from Richard Stallman’s recent comments about the Cloud initiative. The primary concern is that one may lose control of one’s data, or be at the mercy of (or “locked in” to) a single entity.
To be sure, Mr. Stallman and others make valid points in that if you trust your data to the cloud, where is your control? Where are your options in case of failure? If the entity has a catastrophic error, you could be in a world of hurt.