New MobileMe Mail Web Beta Introduces Gmail-like Features

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I use MobileMe. Have for two years now, ever since it was first introduced. Overall, I’m quite satisfied with the service, especially now that you can synchronize your contacts, email and calendars for free and get push email using Gmail. But one thing I’ve never felt very comfortable using is the web-based Mail application.

In fact, I much prefer the interface on my iPhone, and that of the iPad Mail application is better still. Which is why it’s great to see Apple release a new beta version of MobileMe’s web mail app that borrows heavily from its cousin on the iPad.

To get started using the beta, all you have to do is be an existing MobileMe subscriber (or sign up for a new account, I suppose, if you’re that interested, although buzz is building that it might become free soon), log in to your account and click on the “Request an invitation” link that appears in the bottom lefthand corner of the current interface. Apple will then send you an email invitation when you’re added to the beta pool.

Here’s what you’ll get for your trouble:

  • New widescreen and compact views allow you to alternate between an iPad-like display mode that shows you more of your message, while also giving you access to your folders. Compact view gets rid of the folder navigation pane, and you can still switch back to classic view if you preferred the way things were.
  • A new formatting toolbar means your messages won’t have to look so drab going out, and you can format long URLs to keep outgoing mail nice and tidy, and less likely to trip junk mail sensors.
  • Set rules from the web view to filter out unimportant emails and cut down on inbox clutter. Whereas before you had to set these up in desktop mail, you can now create them on the web and have them automatically apply on both your desktop client and on your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Not to mention the PC, if you happen to be using MobileMe with Outlook.
  • Increased performance like faster loading and continuous scroll combine with increased security to give you a better overall web-based emailing experience. Plus, clicking the “Archive” button provides a handy, one-step way to file messages away without losing them for good.

An interesting side note would be MobileMe beta users: Apple recommends Safari 4, Firefox 3.6 and Internet Explorer 8 as the browsers of choice for use with the beta. Wonder why they left Google Chrome out of the party? Pretending your competition doesn’t exist won’t make them go away, Cupertino.

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