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Apple Details Transition from MobileMe to iCloud

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When Apple announced its new iCloud service, the future of many MobileMe features was up in the air. Now, the company has posted a MobileMe Transition page with details. Several days ago, in “MobileMe-to-iCloud Transition Messaging Provokes Confusion” (13 June 2011), we asked a whole passel of questions, supplemented by more from our readers. Let’s see how well Apple has answered those so far.

In the transition article, Apple distinguishes between two kinds of changes, those that take effect when you sign up for iCloud using an existing MobileMe account, and those that don’t take effect until 30 June 2012, when MobileMe effectively shuts down.

  • Web apps, Including Find My iPhone: Contrary to This Is My Next’s report, and as we and many others suspected, Web app versions of Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and Find My iPhone will be available at icloud.com. This makes sense, and we’re glad Apple hadn’t lost its mind about requiring a device to access these iCloud-synced services.

  • iWeb Hosted Sites and Personal Domains, Gallery, and iDisk: Apple says these three services won’t waft their way into iCloud but will work precisely as they do today through 30 June 2012, even after you move your MobileMe account to iCloud. iWeb sites and a domain you set up to work with MobileMe may be migrated elsewhere, and Apple explains how in a separate article. Gallery images and videos may be downloaded or synced via iPhoto. iDisk files uniquely stored there must be retrieved before the shutoff date. (Despite recent security problems, we remain big fans of Dropbox for syncing and storing files.)

  • Back to My Mac: Without elaboration, Apple says that Back to My Mac will be part of iCloud. That could mean a dramatic expansion of Back to My Mac usage, since anyone signed up with a free iCloud account will be able to use an Apple ID to access computers logged into the same account from anywhere on the Internet. We wonder if Back to My Mac will tie into iOS 5 as well, providing a virtual network of computers and devices that can access resources from one another?

  • Widgets, Keychains, Dock items, and System Preferences: Few of us have synced these types of data via MobileMe because, outside of passwords, we don’t necessary want precisely the same information on every computer we use. Nonetheless, these types of synchronized data are all wiped away with iCloud, and will disappear as soon as you migrate from MobileMe to iCloud. If you maintain your MobileMe account without migrating, they will function through the cutoff date.

  • Merging Accounts: We’ve heard the most concern from people who have MobileMe aliases; distinct Apple ID, iTunes Store, and MobileMe accounts; and other combinations of identities. Apple clarified this slightly. As some subscribers have been told by MobileMe customer service, Apple will not merge accounts, such as an iTunes Store account and a MobileMe account. But you can move a MobileMe account to iCloud, and continue to use a separate iTunes account to handle purchases and iTunes in the Cloud synchronization. This also likely answers the question about merging or migrating Apple Communities data associated with an Apple ID (as in, no, it won’t be possible).

  • Family Pack Accounts: Accounts in a Family Pack can be individually migrated to iCloud as long as you do it before 30 June 2012.

  • MobileMe Aliases: Reader Bob Kerstetter notes in the comments below that Apple had said (and we missed) that although MobileMe members can't add, delete, or change email aliases today, those members that migrate accounts to iCloud in third quarter of 2011 will regain the ability to manage aliases.

  • Storage Amounts: Apple confirmed you will be able to buy storage beyond the free 5 GB included in every iCloud account when it launches. The company did not provide pricing details.

  • Remaining Questions: We still have no answer about what new iOS device purchasers can do for data synchronization until iCloud ships, assuming that they won’t be able to get a MobileMe account. Nor did Apple say what will happen after 30 June 2012 for pre-Lion Mac OS X users currently using MobileMe (likely “Web apps or nothing”), or for those who want to use online syncing with the original iPhone and iPhone 3G.

We’ll keep watching for answers to these questions.

Check out the Take Control ebooks that expand on the topic in this article:

Learn to configure your iCloud life optimally so you can view media on different devices, save and share photos, sync and access passwords and data, sync documents between multiple devices, find a missing device, and more. iCloud sounds simple, but can become complex quickly, and this book has the advice you need to avoid problems and get the most out of iCloud.

 

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Comments about Apple Details Transition from MobileMe to iCloud

will @mac.com email addresses still work?
Obi-Wandreas  2011-06-24 16:17
According to Apple, yes.
Mac Bakewell  2011-06-25 10:20
>or for those who want to use online syncing with the original iPhone and iPhone 3G

And for those who want to stick with Snow Leopard and synch with iOS 5 devices?
I am very disappointed over the loss of iDisk. It's a great tool and lets me view files from the iPhone, web or Mac. Why would I want to have a Drop Box account? Bad move.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-06-27 07:10
Honestly, Dropbox is better than iDisk in nearly every way, and it's an essential part of our workflow with Take Control, along with being one of the simplest way to share files between devices and people.
Adam, I'm not saying that DropBox isn't good. It is just that I have it all set up and it "just works" as is, plus I dislike having yet another account on yet another server somewhere. Plus the loss of the desktop sync options is really weird, I don't know why they'd do that.

(BTW I have to thank you for your Internet Starter Kit book. Probably in 1995 I walked past a bookstore in Melbourne and bought it, read it on the way back home, then used it to teach myself all about the just nascent web and also Gopher, mail, etc. From there I set up web sites for a Gov't department I was working for, then moved further into computers, and eventually a full career in IT where I still am. So thanks for changing my life for the better!)
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-06-28 12:37
Glad to hear the Internet Starter Kit was so useful to you!

One analogy I've seen about iCloud is that it's a highway, not a destination, and things like iDisk and MobileMe Gallery and iWeb sites, which were destinations, just don't fit into that model any more.

And while I do understand your pain at having to change things around to use Dropbox, I think you'll really like what it does for you above and beyond what iDisk did.
Michael Cohen  2011-06-28 14:32
"highway, not a destination": sounds like Apple is about to ask, "Where do you want to go today?" [grin]
Dennis B. Swaney  2011-06-27 07:36
OK, IF I understand Apple's various statements correctly:

1. If I sign up for iCloud before MobileMe dies, I can keep my @mac.com address.

2. By upgrading to iOS 5 before signing up for iC, it will be free.

3. Once I've signed up for iC, I will still be able to access my @mac.com email from my G5 iMac via a web browser.

I have another question but I will post that in a separate comment.
Glenn Fleishman  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-06-27 08:27
1. Right.

2. iCloud is free for everyone.

3. Yes.
Dennis B. Swaney  2011-06-27 21:52
Glenn,
2. At WWDC, they specifically said that iCloud was free for iOS 5 and Mac OS 10.7 users. When did they change that statement?
Glenn Fleishman  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-06-27 22:28
I believe right now they're discussing it as only being available for those two platforms, in which case I suppose that's accurate. However, the Web apps change that. I wonder if they'll allow you to sign up via the Web site.
Chris Kohuch  2011-07-04 18:23
I'm curious about the "Free to users of iOS 5 and Mac OS 10.7 part as well. I currently have at two sub accounts on my MobileMe family pack that are using machines that don't meet the specs for Lion (Core Duos). I'll be interested as more info becomes available in how or wether I'll be able to migrate their email over to free iCloud accounts despite the fact that they won't be upgrading to Lion unless/until they replace their current hardware (which I'm all for by the way, but then it's always easy contemplate to spending other peoples money).
Dennis B. Swaney  2011-06-27 07:39
I have my @mac.com email retrieved by my GMail account and it can be retrieved by my email client, Thunderbird. Has Apple said if the server addresses will stay the same or will they be changed? If the latter, what will they be?
Bob Kerstetter  2011-06-27 16:00
About aliases: Select addresses in your MobileMe Preferences to get this link:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4632
The message appears to be: "The ability to add, delete, or change an email alias will be available for MobileMe members that move to iCloud, once it is available this fall."
Glenn Fleishman  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-06-27 16:34
Thanks! I completely missed that. The article has now been updated to add an item about aliases credited to you.
Tom Gewecke  2011-06-27 16:09
I wonder how many urls Apple's actions are going to break. I did a simple Google search using the "site" option on homepage.mac.com, web.mac.com, web.me.com and got a few million hits. No idea how accurate that might be...
Roger Moffat  2011-06-28 06:36
I for one would have been some of those results. I have a number of pages that have been on homepage.mac.com since forever that it seems will now just poof away.

A few months ago I did tweak them so that they continued working after Apple changed the layout of the photos folders

http://lisaandroger.com/2010/11/fixing-your-mac-homepage-sites/

to keep my ancient old, historic page a live, but it seems they're now EOLed.

And I don't think saving them to my own server is going to work out as they all coded to get some of the css and other content from Apple's servers. Some of these pages were created before iPhoto existed, and maybe some with very early versions of iPhoto.

Recreating them would be a chore that I don't want to have to consider :-(
J. R. Staal  2011-06-27 22:54
Several of my apps use iDisk for backup. One is Quicken 7 (which I still use some). I believe that iDisk security is still better than most. I really hate to see that disappear. Overall, to me the whole .Mac to MobileMe to iCloud transition has been quite poor (not a news flash). As a consultant for Apple, I used .Mac to close many sales, with things such a Groups for family, iCards, Galleries and the like. Apple has allowed Google to take most of those tools (though not well) and run with them. I really hate to see that.
eddie taylor  2011-06-28 01:05
nice informative post, thanks for sharing
Sydney Schroeder  2011-06-28 05:08
I haven't seen any information regarding second email addresses (not aliases) purchased on a single MobileMe account. We've maintained our .mac/MobileMe accounts since their inception just to be able to keep those addresses.
jcerro  2011-06-28 14:48
Here's something that I will miss when MobileMe goes away: Apple's MobileMe "Backup" application does quite a good job of backing up some or all of user's home directory, settings, and files. It's reasonably fast, and it is very easy to use.

It works particularly well in the context of the MobileMe family pack, and it is the primary reason why I have purchased the family pack for as long as it has been available: critical files for five users are reliably backed up to the "cloud" and are easily restored. This is a great feature, particularly for people who are on the road a lot and might not always have access to a Time Machine backup.

The best part is that the MobileMe Backup program currently works fine with PowerPC machines running either Tiger or Leopard, which is important in my household. I'll likely move to something like DropBox, but it's unlikely that any solution will be as seamless and as Mac-savvy as MobileMe Backup.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-06-29 08:43
Apple has never really given the Backup application much attention, and given the loss of MobileMe, I would strongly recommend switching to something like CrashPlan, which is far more capable than Backup, and has the added benefit of letting you and a friend back up to each other over the Internet for free.
jcerro  2011-07-05 10:26
Thanks for the tip re. CrashPlan! I'll look into it.
jcerro  2011-06-28 14:58
I am quite interested in how third party software programs that have used MobileMe services will support (or not support) iCloud.

For example, products like Quicken, QuickBooks, TurboTax, and MYOB all supported automatic backup of key data files to MobileMe, independently of Apple's Backup program. These backups happened transparently and without undue complexity.

Likewise, other useful programs, like Yojimbo (by BareBones Software), make effective use of MobileMe sync services to keep data in sync across multiple machines.

I presume that some of these packages will be updated to work with iCloud, but it likely means that we'll need to spend even more money to update software that already works well. Further, completely adequate PowerPC machines will be left in the cold.
Mariano  2011-06-29 11:56
IMHO, this is the stupidest decision Apple has made in a long time. iCloud sounds great, but there was no real reason to kill iDisk, web hosting, galleries. etc (we chose to pay for that!!). MobileMe is what, 2-3 years old? what would happen in 2 years from now? maybe Apple will change their mind again and screw us once more?
George Kennedy  2011-07-01 19:17
I would rather have my $99., returned than have the extended time frame. It is just a cheat, to take away a service that was heavily promoted WHEN I PURCHASED MY MACBOOK PRO.in 2008 and my I-MAC THE SAME YEAR. Very disappointed in apple.
Chris Kohuch  2011-07-04 18:27
I'll miss MobileMe Gallery the most, it had a really nice online interface and tight iPhoto/Aperture integration. Time to start looking for the BEST alternative.

Also it looks like I'll be in the minority in lamenting the loss of Keychain synching which kept my various website passwords and email certificates uniform between my Desktop and Notebook machines.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-07-05 06:58
While MobileMe Gallery wasn't always my favorite, I think it did things that weren't common elsewhere (in terms of letting you protect specific albums, etc). Do let us know what services you look at, and perhaps we can get Jeff (the most prolific and talented photographer on staff) to write up a comparison of alternative photo sharing services.
I would love to see Jeff do this. Even just a Flickr and Picasa comparison would be outstanding.