Leaving MobileMe – A Great Alternative

I have been a member of Mobile me for 2 years now and have utilised all of it’s features, from websites to mail.  I joined originally as I loved the ability to sync data between my Macbook and my iPhone.  This all works very well.

However, this year I took the major decision to sell my Macbook (see previous Blog for explanation Link ).  It was after selling my Macbook that I looked at syncing all the data from my iPhone to my new Windows-based PC.  I realised the majority of sync tasks can be done via iTunes but I still wanted the cloud functionality that I had used with my Macbook.  MobileMe worked fine syncing with MSOutlook using the Apple application for doing this.  My only issues were that this syncing program started at every boot unless you disabled it, but then you would need to enable it again to sync.  I also became disheartened by the cost each year of MobileMe at £60 .

I scoured the internet searching for viable alternatives finding many free alternatives.  The problem however was that no service provided the complete package of Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Webspace, Bookmarks and Find my iPhone.  Therefore I felt syncing via multiple services would probably kill my iPhone battery.

It was then I came across GoogleApps.  This service, at it’s basic level is free for personal users giving you syncing ability for Calendars, Contacts, Mail and Websites.  However there was no ability to sync this to Outlook.  However the next package up at just £3.3o per month included this functionality.  I could not believe that I pretty much had everything mobile me had at nearly half the cost (£39.60).

There are of course varying degrees of replication and a couple of functions not included in GoogleApps but overall it was worth it for the cost saving and the ability to pay monthly instead of yearly.  I have listed below the functions I use and their differences to MobileMe.

Prerequisite
GoogleApps does require that you own your own domain name which of course incurs a yearly fee, for me this was not an additional cost as I already own a domain, however if you do not already you can easily register for one using Google and costs approximately £11.  Also you will need to install GoogleSync if you wish to sync with MSOutlook.  The positive for this is that it only opens when you open Outlook thus does not use resource when not in use as MM does.

Mail
Mail is very good with GoogleApps (GA), even with the free package you get up to 10 email address accounts.  With the business package you get unlimited accounts each with 25GB of space.  You could get friends to join with you so you can spread the costs between you for email.
Mail is IMAP the same as MM so anything you do on your iPhone is replicated on the GA servers.

Positives: You can have numerous email accounts e.g. for each of your family or friends. You can manage Spam from your iPhone by moving it to the Spam folder which Gmail then uses to identify junk email.  The read message count is alaso pushed to your iPhone unlike MobileMe which required you to open Mail to refresh the unread count.

Negatives: GA has a strange function whereby if you delete on your iPhone it is basically archived.  Without going into too much detail it basically means the email does not have a label such as Inbox or one of your personal folders.  Nothing is deleted unless you go to the All Mail folder and individually delete it.  If you delete in Outlook it goes into the BIN folder as you would expect and will auto delete in 30 Days.  The only problem I have with the iPhone in effect archiving is that you cannot easily identify Archived mail in Gmail to  batch delete the mails.  This can however be done from Outlook which is clever enough to identify the archived mail.

Calendar/Contacts
Not much different to MM except I did not have the UK GMT issue for all day events as I did with MM.

Positives: Again you can set up multiple calendars for different users.  Also contacts birthdays are placed into a separate calendar list which syncs with Outlook without issue.

Webspace
Very similar to MM, only positive is that you can actually create a website from within GA.

iDisk/GoogleDocs
I am very fond of GAs equivalent to iDisk as it just feel more flexible.

Positives: Docs can be saved to be viewable from a web browser, you can decide on exactly who can view what by setting individual share settings.  You can install a MS plugin to either automatically or manually share documents directly from programs such as Excel, Word, etc.

Bookmark Sync
This function is not available via GA, there are other services out there that can provide this but I do not feel it is worth paying for this so I simply use the iTunes sync for Bookmarks.

Find My iPhone
This service is not available with GA but I never really used this so it was not an issue for me.

Overall I could not be happier with GoogleApps and to add their customer support is very quick to respond to any queries you have with your service so all round this “in my opinion” is a far better service.

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One Response to “Leaving MobileMe – A Great Alternative”

  1. SXFoxstar Says:

    With the announcement of iCloud, this may make it a very different ball game. We’ll just have to watch this space.

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