Never feel lost again with Apple's new toy

MobileMe is Apple's attempt to make the important aspects of your digital life available everywhere, all the time.

September 4, 2008-handout image of the MobileMe software
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MobileMe is Apple's attempt to make the important aspects of your digital life - email, contacts, calendar and photos - available everywhere, all the time. This latest idea from CEO Steve Jobs's innovative team is solid and the system works well, despite some annoying quirks. The concept behind MobileMe is to use the same technology that can "push" emails to a Blackberry mobile phone to simultaneously transfer all of your important data to your personal online desktop (hosted at, iPhone, computer (PC or Mac) and iPod Touch.
Let us imagine your phone battery dies and you need an important number. Log into your MobileMe account online and all your phone contacts are available. An update to your desktop calendar will automatically be transferred to the calendar on your iPhone/iPod and photos you take with your iPhone camera while on the move can be automatically uploaded to your public online photo gallery. The online desktop side of the service is lovely and is a testament to how much can be done inside a web browser these days. After logging in at, you can open up online versions of your email, address book, calendar and photo gallery. The iDisk service puts a special folder on your real desktop; drag a file into the iDisk and it is automatically beamed online, available anywhere you log-in from.
Some parts of the service are a little unpredictable. There were times when new contacts did not synchronise as they should have, or calendar updates online did not make it through to the desktop calendar. We did not try the MobileMe out on a PC with Microsoft Outlook, but most reviews say that side of the service is spotty at best. A word of warning for iPhone users. As the phone is not legally available for sale here, Apple have not done any special deals with local phone network operators. The "push" technology that MobileMe uses to synchronise data over mobile networks could end up adding a heavy whack to your phone bills.
Using the data service from Etisalat or du is expensive, but Etisalat offer a 10-gigabyte data package for Dh460 (US$125) - it is expensive, but if you use any package other than this you could end up spending hundreds, if not thousands, more. The web-based side of MobileMe feels nice to use, although it competes with some other strong online players. The calendar is good, but how much better is it than Google's free online calendar? Not much, we thought. The same goes for the photo gallery, which is easy to use and well thought out, but not leaps and bounds ahead of services from plenty of other online photo storage sites.
So for the yearly $100 MobileMe subscription fee, you are really paying for the integration of online, mobile and laptop/desktop rather than any great leap forward in internet-based services. For an Apple lover who uses the company's phone and one or more of its computers, this is a pretty handy add-on. If you use a mix of PCs and non-Apple phones, there are better services available, many of them free.