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Apple Details Transition from MobileMe to iCloud

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.

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