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24 Days of Gadgets - Day 14

December 29, 2009 - Dave Hecei
While it’s fun to get a gadget that you can play with, services can really be useful, and fun, to the right individual. I’ve already mentioned Netflix, a mail order DVD subscription service. This one is more software based, but for those who have more than one Mac and especially those who have an iPhone, then MobileMe makes a great gift.

MobileMe used to be .Mac (pronounced Dot Mac), which used to be iTools. It started out as a free service, back in the OS 9 days, but when OS X arrived and Apple started adding more functionality, they made it a pay service. The fact that those other than Mac users were somehow creating free accounts might have helped.

Apple sells the MobileMe subscription for $99 a year (it can be found at some online retailers at a discount – I’ve seen it as low as $70). This may seem a little steep, but each year Apple adds more and more features and capabilities to this service. At $70, it’s less than $6 a month.

MobileMe has the following features: 20GB of online storage, .me or .mac email account with ‘push’ service, MobileMe Gallery, iDisk – synchronized storage, iWeb Publishing – single button publishing of your iWeb web site (part of iLife 09), iChat account, iSync tool to synchronize Safari bookmarks, Address Book, iCal calendars, and your email.

Syncing is one of the best parts. If you have a desktop Mac at home or the office and a Mac laptop, you can easily keep the same data up to date. If you change you iCal calendar on the desktop Mac the laptop will update that information when you next use iSync.

For those who want to create a nice looking blog without all the design hassles, then iWeb, which comes with all new Macs, is the perfect tool. Designing a web site is a simple as choosing a template and then just drag-and-drop your photos and text into the predefined boxes. With a single click this web site is then posted to your MobileMe web space. MobileMe uses advanced web technologies like Ajax to give your web site a professional look. If you create a photo page, the embedded slide show is very cool, and you don’t even have to do any of the programming.

For those Mac, or even Windows users, with an iPhone, MobileMe adds even more functionality. The biggest feature is the ‘Push’ email service. Push email works slightly different than a regular email, or POP3 mail, which is the most common for most ISPs. With POP3 mail you have to actively check for new emails. With a Push system, new emails are automatically sent to each device as they arrive so it is always ready for you to view.

Another new feature for updated iPhones is the ‘find my phone’ feature. If you forget or lose your iPhone you can log into your MobileMe account and access the Find My Phone function. Using the GPS in the iPhone you will see a map showing its approximate location. If you have lost your iPhone you can use the ‘remote wipe’ function. This is very handy in such a case where you don’t want unwanted persons access to personal and private data. If you do wipe the iPhone and get it back, it can easily be restored using your iPhone backups? (You are backing up your iPhone, right?)

This is just a few of the amazing features of MobileMe. It is not for everyone, but for those who can use it, it is worth the money.


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