Hey, Mac user! Still using MobileMe for your mail, calendar, contacts, Find My iDevice, or anything else? The good news is that you don’t have to pay for it any more. The bad news is that it’s time for you to start making plans to move out, because Apple will be relocating you to iCloud in a few short months.
Really: this is important. Your contacts and calendar will stop synchronizing. If you receive mail at a me.com (or mac.com) email address, you’re going to stop receiving it. You don’t want to wait until this happens to deal with it. Now’s the time.
This may mean some upgrading. Apple has never been shy about, uh, strongly encouraging their users to get with the new. If you are using Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6), or earlier, you’re going to need to upgrade to Lion (10.7). You can do this yourself by purchasing Lion in the Mac App Store for $29; it is downloaded from the internet. Always be sure you have a full Time Machine backup before you upgrade to Lion!
Once you’ve upgraded, simply walk through the iCloud upgrade process you’ll be offered, and you’ll hopefully be up and running in to time.
Also, be aware that on Lion, that some of your older applications may not run; the best-known offenders here are Microsoft Office 2004, Adobe Creative Suite 2, and Intuit Quicken 2007. Intuit has promised a compatible version within a few months, as they’ve never replaced it with a suitable newer version.
Of course, you may not want to upgrade to Lion, or you may have a Mac which won’t allow it (you can’t install Lion on any PowerPC-based Macs, or first-generation Intel Macs, or any Mac with less than 2 GB of RAM). If that’s the case, you do have another option: Gmail, or Google Apps (basically Gmail but with your own domain instead of gmail.com). It’s possible to configure Apple Mail, Address Book, iCal, and all your mobile devices to utilize Gmail, so you don’t need to actually interact with it in your web browser; nothing should look different than it did when you were using MobileMe.
However, there are quirks, like Address Book groups, birthdays and spouse fields not synchronizing, and not being able to add a new calendar with the + button in iCal. For calendar, we actually recommend BusyCal ($50) instead, as it’s designed for Gmail support from the ground up, and has more capabilities than iCal despite having a near-identical appearance. (In fact, it happily dispenses with the universally despised faux-leather adornments Apple inexplicably dressed iCal with in Lion.)
In iCloud, contact lists are subscribed to, rather than synchronized to “On My Mac”, which means that if you use any software which depends on synchronizing contacts to the local address book, like Outlook or BlackBerry Desktop Manager, you also may want to think about Gmail/Google Apps as an alternative to iCloud. (On the plus side, you can have multiple subscribed contact lists, and iCloud accounts are free, so you could maintain several contact lists if you wished to, including subscribing to someone else’s.)
Ok, so: you’ve gotta move. If you need help, please let us know, as we’ll be happy to assist. Next newsletter, we’ll take a look about what else iCloud can do for you besides synchronize your calendar, contacts, and mail.