On Sunday, MobileMe will be dead, and anyone who is still using MobileMe and not Apple’s replacement service, iCloud, will be forcibly evicted. That means anyone still using MobileMe either needs to transition to iCloud and/or copy all data stored in their MobileMe accounts to their Mac or PC. Any files stored in MobileMe’s range of services that can’t be converted to iCloud will be deleted. If you opt not to use iCloud, all data in your MobileMe account will be deleted.
Although iCloud offers several advances over MobileMe, there are some MobileMe services that don’t have direct iCloud equivalents. These include MobileMe Galleries for sharing photos and videos, website creation using Apple’s iWeb, and iDisk remote storage and file sharing. File and information sync is available using iCloud, but the functionality is implemented a bit differently than in MobileMe. In addition, users still using Snow Leopard also can’t upgrade to iCloud.
It’s a tricky problem for thousands of users. There isn’t a single online service that delivers quite the same mix of features and functionality that Apple offered with MobileMe, but by combining some apps and services, you can get pretty close to MobileMe’s feature set. We’ve gone through all of the main competitors to try to find the best services for the soon-to-be dispossessed MobileMe subscriber.
Let’s start with a look at the individual Mobile features that aren’t duplicated in iCloud.
- MobileMe Galleries – MobileMe offered impressive one-click publishing of photos and movies from iPhoto. Simply select an album or individual items and select the option to share using MobileMe and you’re done. Anyone browsing your albums on the web saw a great gallery experience. Users could even subscribe to galleries. While most services don’t have quite that experience, there are plenty of photo and media sharing sites available and some deliver a similar iPhoto browse and publish experience.
- iWeb sites – iWeb was a staple of Apple’s iLife suite for years. The application made designing a personal or small business site extremely easy and offered a range of features not usually found in consumer web design tools. It included one-click publishing to MobileMe’s iDisk and it integrated common server-side web features like blog comments and interactive widgets. It’s a testament to the power of iWeb that companies like iWeb Themes Park, Graphic Node, and iWebTemplate.com continue to produce additional iWeb theme and template packages. iWeb’s MobileMe-specific features won’t exist past June, but iWeb will still be able to publish to other web hosting services.
- iDisk – MobileMe’s iDisk delivered a secure cloud storage solution that looked at acted like an external drive attached to your Mac. It incorporated the ability to share documents with specific users or the Internet at large. In some ways, iDisk was ahead of its time – today’s public and personal cloud services deliver much of the iDisk functionality to Mac, PC, and mobile device users. iDisk could also be used as place to store backups using Apple’s little-known Backup utility.
- File and information sync – MobileMe offered the ability to sync core data like contacts and calendarxs across multiple Macs, PCs, and iOS devices. That ability exists in iCloud and a range of other services. In fact, other services expand the types of devices that can sync such information.
In planning a MobileMe replacement strategy, you really need to look at each of these four areas and determine if you need to replicate all four of them or if there’s one or two key areas that matter to you. If you want to hit all four areas, however, you’ll really need to use multiple services.
Photo and Video Galleries
There are a ton of options for sharing your photos and videos online. Social networking sites have really taken over that task for most people, and you may find that using Facebook, Google+, or Twitter deliver the functionality you need. There are, of course, social networks dedicated to photo sharing, like Flickr and Instagram, as well as ones that work well as a photo-only solution, like Tumblr. Likewise, there are services that provide cloud-based photo editing as well as publishing and sharing, like Photoshop.com and Google’s Picasa.
Here are some of the best options and some notes about them:
- Facebook – Integrated with iPhoto for posting photos and subscribing to photo feeds, iOS app integration
- Flickr – iPhoto export option for posting photos and subscribing to photo feeds, iOS app integration
- Picasa – iPhoto export option for posting photos and subscribing to photo feeds, cloud-based photo editing and sharing, integration with Google+, iOS app integration
- Photoshop.com – Cloud-based photo editing and sharing
- Photobucket – Posting photos and subscribing to photo feeds, cloud-based photo editing and sharing, social network integration, iOS app integration
- Shutterfly – Posting photos and subscribing to photo feeds, cloud-based photo editing and sharing, social network integration, iOS app integration, gallery-focused interface, and photo printing options
- Twitter and related services – Sharing of photos and videos using Twitter’s native photo functionality as well as various third-party photo and video tools
- Instagram – iOS-centric, posting photos and subscribing to photo feeds, basic on-device editing, social network integration including its own social features, iOS app integration
- YouTube – Personal video sharing, offers the ability to create feeds, personalized user page, integration with social networks and web services
- Vimeo – Personal video sharing, offers the ability to create feeds, personalized user page, integration with social networks and web services
iWeb and Websites
As I mentioned, iWeb is still a functional tool and it can work with any web host that supports FTP. You may lose some functionality, but those can typically be replaced by a range of free online services and inserted into iWeb sites by using iWeb’s widget feature. There are tons of web hosts (free and paid) and many Internet providers offer free hosting to their customers.
That said, iWeb is no longer a shipping product and it’s quite possible that future versions of OS X won’t support iWeb. That means you may want to consider looking for alternative web deign and publishing options. Before leaping to an iWeb replacement, you may even want to consider whether you need full web design capabilities or if something more basic, like a blog or a social network profile, can deliver the functionality you require.
If you do need full design and publishing tools, there are a range of great apps available that deliver iWeb-like features and quality. Here are a handful of top choices that you can find in the Mac App Store. They offer a range of price points and feature sets.
- Taco HTML Edit
- Freeway Express AS and Freeway Pro AS
- Goldfish Standard Edition and Goldfish Professional
Virtually any personal cloud service will deliver the core functionality of MobileMe’s iDisk. Several actually deliver iDisk functionality with additional features, like document sharing, with advanced security and privacy options, the ability to view and restore past versions of documents, integration with Mac and iOS apps, online editing and collaboration, integration with social networks, and even cloud-based backup of specified folders or all data on your Mac. As with iDisk, many of these features allow you to maintain a local copy of your data that can be accessed even when your Mac, PC, or iOS device isn’t connected to the Internet.
Some of the best options to consider include these options:
- Box – Enterprise collaboration and security options, version history, OneCloud feature integrates with a range of other iOS applications, computer/device file sync
- Dropbox – collaboration and sharing options, version history, integrates with a range of other Mac and iOS applications, computer/device file sync
- Dolly Drive – Whole Mac backup and restore, personal information data and file sync, optional private cloud appliance for home or office use
- IDrive – Online backup
- Sugar Sync – iOS and mobile device backup, sharing for photos and video, music streaming and sharing, Facebook and Outlook integration, version history, computer/device file sync, file and document sharing
- Teamdrive – focus on business collaboration, version history, computer/device file sync, file and document sharing, serve edition for on-premise cloud service for business
- Spider Oak - iOS and mobile device backup, Mac/file backup, version history, computer/device file sync, file and document sharing
- Amazon Cloud Drive – music streaming, photo/video and file storage
- Google Drive – Collaboration and sharing options, version history, integrates with a range of other Mac and iOS applications, music streaming, photo/video and file storage, Google Docs and Google+ integration, computer/device file sync
Like iCloud, MobileMe focused on syncing a range of personal information between Macs, PCs, and other devices. Also like iCloud, it offered web-based access to all that information. iCloud does a great job of letting you manage these features. If you want to look beyond iCloud, however, most webmail services offer similar sync capabilities for both computers and mobile devices (including platforms that iCloud doesn’t support). Getting beyond the basic contact and calendar sync, many cloud vendors offer file sync (see above). Some offer both file and personal information sync.
Personal information sync is supported by the following options:
- Yahoo Mail
- Gmail and Google Calendar
- Dolly Drive
- Microsoft Exchange (including personal Exchange hosting offered by some Internet and web hosting companies)
Using the various solutions discussed here will help get you ready for the move out of MobileMe. You can use a combination of options plus iCloud, or you may only use one or two of the options in this article. Ultimately, you might even find that some of the other options out there may deliver a better experience than MobileMe.
Wondering how it all breaks down? Here’s a chart of all your options. Please note that the chart is too wide for the page, so you’ll have to scroll left and right within the chart to see all the data.
|Flickr||Photoshop.com||Photobucket||Shutterfly||Twitter and related services||YouTube||Vimeo||WordPress||Blogger||Tumblr||Box||Dropbox||Dolly Drive||Sugar Sync||Teamdrive||Spider Oak||Amazon Cloud Drive||Microsoft Skydrive||Yahoo Mail||Hosted Exchange|
|Photo Galleries With iPhoto Integration||X||X||X||X||X|
|Photo Galleries With Sharing Support||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Cloud storage with automatic desktop (Mac/PC) sync||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Cloud storage with iOS support (provider’s own app or third-party apps)||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Cloud storage for file sharing||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Cloud storage with managed/enterprise file sharing (permissions, group access, collaboration, etc.)||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Cloud storage with file versioning and previous version recovery features||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Cloud backup for desktop (Mac/PC) and/or iOS devices||X||X||X|
|Personal data (contacts, calendar, etc.) sync across devices||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Personal data sharing with other users||X||X||X||X|