Friday, December 5, 2008

MobileMe pushed as Exchange alternative

Since we blogged about Windows Live going mobile yesterday, we figured we would go ahead and cover all the features of Apple’s MobileMe, or as they like to bill it “Exchange for the rest of us.” Say you have a Mac at home and a PC at work, with MobileMe you can sync both up to your iPhone.

MobileMe keeps all of your information on a “cloud” server, which is a nice way of saying online storage. The difference between this and something like is that MobileMe will sync the file automatically, you don’t have to re-upload it. Billing itself as the Exchange alternative for personal users, it’s only logical that MobileMe would be able to push new contacts and calendar appointments to your iPhone as you make changes in Outlook. It will also automatically push email to your phone, but only if the email came to your MobileMe email account. It can’t push outside POP/IMAP accounts at this time. MobileMe works with all of the native Mac applications as well at Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Express, Windows Mail and Windows Contact. Here is a link to easy setup with the Windows Control Panel.

You can access your “cloud” anywhere from, a suite of Web applications that is similar to accessing a remote desktop, although it doesn’t include any word editing software, so don’t expect to edit documents. The site gives you access to your calendar, contacts, a photo gallery, a webmail viewer and your iDisk storage. Besides the basic applications accessible on mobile, there is one cool feature: the iDisk. With the iDisk you can upload documents at work, store them, and download them to your computer when you get home, or any computer for that matter. You have the option to make any folder on your iDisk public and users can not only download items from your public folder, but upload files as well. As a MobileMe user, one upcoming feature that I am excited about it the ability to email large files. You will have the ability to send an iDisk link to emails too large to send through email.

MobileMe is a viable option for all of you die-hard iPhone users without Exchange support, but who just can’t get over not having things pushed to your phone. It’s also a great tool for Mac users looking to dive into “cloud” computing or for those who find themselves needing to go back and forth between a PC and a Mac in two different locations – aka work and home. It’s a little costly at $99. You can actually go through a hosted Exchange service for free or $4 per month such as mail2web if you’re only looking for push email, calendars and contact, but if you think you could use the online storage capabilities in addition to the push email then it’s a great option…and your only option to be honest. You can try it out for free for 60 days here.

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