Unlike Google (s goog), Apple (s aapl) doesn’t subscribe to the “Release Early, Iterate Often” model of software and service publishing. Even so, that’s how things have turned out with MobileMe. On Friday, Apple published updates to its MobileMe News pages detailing improvements to the service.
“As part of an update to the MobileMe web applications, you can now access Find My iPhone directly from the MobileMe toolbar.” Doesn’t sound like much (and it isn’t) but it’s a nice touch that makes Find My iPhone easier to access. (Previously the feature was confusingly tucked-away in the MobileMe Settings page.) Also handy is the use of a new URL users can enter into a browser to go straight to the Find My iPhone functionality: me.com/findmyiphone.
The web-based Contacts has been tweaked to resolve a problem that occurred when exporting multiple contacts at once, but by far the most Update Love was lavished upon long-neglected iDisk.
The Apple knowledge base article lists the following updates and improvements to iDisk:
- New Public folder page located at http://public.me.com/membername now matches the look of me.com and supports drag and drop of files between folders (when enabled for visitors)
- Allowing visitors to upload, move, and delete files on your Public folder can now be set from www.me.com/idisk
- An iDisk Public folder password can now be set from www.me.com/idisk
- When logging in to a password-protected Public folder with a web browser, entering the generic username “public” is no longer required
- Adds ability to connect to another member’s Public folder while viewing your own iDisk at me.com
I’m happy to see the addition to iDisk’s web interface of drag and drop functionality, but I have to confess it makes no difference to me at this stage. I simply don’t use the web-based version of iDisk very much if I can help it – it’s too slow, cumbersome and unpredictable. I’ve all too often found myself several-folder-levels deep into iDisk, digging around for a file or three, and suddenly discovered the interface has stopped responding to my clicks. Almost at the same instant I realize things have ground to a halt, the page automatically refreshes itself, dumping me back at my iDisk root folder. That’s frustrating. The language I use in those moments reflects just how frustrating.
In my experience, the poor performance and functional unpredictability of iDisk are the only things about it that are predictable. I don’t know anyone who has had a better experience. Ah well. At least it looks better now.
I’m hardly bowled-over by these updates, but I appreciate they’ve been made. As a paying subscriber to MobileMe, it’s nice to see that Apple remains committed to improving the service. At $99 a year for a single user licence it’s not fabulously expensive, and while a lot of people feel it’s still too pricey, it falls far short of the costs of most hosted Exchange servers. Apple touted MobileMe as “Exchange for the rest of us” and, while a shaky start didn’t do the service any PR favors, I’ve been using MobileMe’s over-the-air sync/push services from Day One with (mostly) satisfaction. Generally speaking, it works.
But I’ve stopped using iDisk because it’s a joke. Stingy storage capacity and horribly slow, flaky performance means I learned long-ago to stop hoping for iDisk to be a dependable cloud-based data storage and sync solution. (Try saying that five times fast!) Today I use DropBox instead of iDisk. And while DropBox is quite ridiculously priced there’s no arguing it’s the no-brainer alternative to iDisk.
But, as they say, “Half of something is better than all of nothing” and I’m glad to see I’m getting some added value for my $99 membership fee. Even if I don’t use it.