Thursday, May 03, 2012

MobileMe to iCloud - Is Apple getting nervous?

Apple's MobileMe service officially ends on June 30th, almost 8 weeks from now. When it ends we either need to go to iCloud or give up on easy address book synchronization across our iOS and OS X devices and user accounts. (I've already moved the kids over.)

I'm in no rush. iCloud/Mac requires Lion and Lion won't install on the older iMac the kids still use. Worse, I don't even like Lion on the machines it supports. Lion is a disappointment.

I'd prefer to stay with Snow Leopard until early 2013, then switch to Mountain Lion. Except, of course, Mountain Lion won't install on our MacBook.


I suspect I'm not the only one who isn't in a rush. Apple seems worried. The last time I used the MobileMe web interface I ran into a fake-out splash screen that tried to convince me MobileMe was already gone (nice try Apple). Recently Apple sent me a free Snow Leopard DVD to reduce the cost of a Lion upgrade (the cost is irrelevant). Today Apple is telling me I can keep my email address even on machines that don't support Lion [1]. Meanwhile, Macintouch, an old-school Mac site, shares ideas  from MobileMe dead-enders and iCloud denialists.

The pushback is strong enough that hard core geeks are coming up with inventive ways to sync Snow Leopard Address Book and Calendar to iCloud [2].

One option, of course, is to go all in with Google. This was more appealing when Google was less evil than Facebook. Worse, it's not clear how well Snow Leopard Address Book did synchronizing with Google. Lion still supports this; I created an empty account and synchronized with Google. It ended up bringing over 598 cards from the group "My Contacts". (All Contact had 2091 members). I've no idea how reliable this is, but iOS synchronization with Google works quite well. So this might be an option for Lion machines, and non-Lion machines would use Gmail (which is evil now, but works well [3]).

Lastly there's Spanning Sync - an alternative Mac Address Book to Google Contacts option for those who want to abandon MobileMe for Google Apps. (It's an expensive option for a family however.)

Alas, these days I don't want to get closer to Google; I'm trying to move the other way.

So I'm stuck, waiting to see if anyone else comes up with something better. Maybe if I wait long enough Apple will make Mountain Lion run on my old MacBook.

[1] Sort of. Apple botched this half-measure, even by lowest of standards. There's no way to tell from Apple what this means.. What it really means is email and calendars currently in MobileMe will be accessible on iCloud via the web UI.Unofficially Snow Leopard may also be able access this email via IMAP.

[2] I doubt this will work all that well; synchronization is hell even when it's supported.

[3] iCloud's web apps are better than MobileMe's -- but an earthworm could clear that bar. iCloud Contacts, for example, is even more awful than Lion Address Book.

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