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iOS 4.2 Beta: Indicator of a Future All-Cloud Apple?

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In an article today on AppleInsider, Josh Ong details changes in the upcoming iOS (s aapl) 4.2 software update. One small detail caught my eye: There’s an option to enter an Apple ID username and password in the MobileMe setting. It’s a subtle addition, but it might just be the seed of a revolution in personal computing.

Apple appears to be encouraging MobileMe subscribers to connect their accounts with their Apple ID.

It looks like Apple is making it possible for iOS-device owners to use MobileMe by signing-in with their Apple IDs – and perhaps, tie together their existing accounts. In this one small step lies the key to an amazing array of functionality.

The Apple ID is used in many places: on the desktop for authorising a Mac/PC with an iTunes account, in the iTunes Store for making purchases, setting-up and using a Ping (and perhaps, one day soon, Facebook) account, storing and sharing documents on, and using FaceTime on the Mac as a core account (with MobileMe or other email addresses added afterward). It’s also used when making purchases from the Apple online store. In time, it’s safe to assume it’ll be used on the upcoming Mac App Store, too.

MobileMe, on the other hand, is used primarily to synchronise email, contacts and calendars, along with bookmarks and, if you like, System Preferences and even Keychains across Macs.

So, to echo Steve Jobs, What if an Apple ID and a MobileMe account got together? I think the offspring would be nothing less than revolutionary.

Next Steps

An AppleID/MobileMe hybrid brings the Apple universe together, both on the Mac and on iOS devices. I suspect next summer’s release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion may prove to be the final leap from today’s sort-of-connected world, to an always-connected world, where the simple rule is: Wherever you can use your Apple ID, you have access to your Email, Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, Music, Movies, Pictures, Ping, all your iWork documents and all the software you ever bought in both the iOS and Mac App Stores. All of it ready to be streamed or downloaded, some of it automatically, most of it on-demand.

If the new MacBook Air truly is the future of MacBooks, it’s a much more likely future. If we want our notebooks to be thin, light and go for days on a single charge, we must be prepared to ditch today’s optical and hard drives. Flash storage can fill the gap, but it’s too expensive to store all the media users want access to. Streaming data, therefore, presents the best next step, practically and economically, in personal computing.

If you’ve ever bought a Mac and enjoyed the experience of seeing your MobileMe data populate your Address Book, iCal and Mail apps, imagine being able to take the process much further, and watch all your software, multimedia and personal documents also become available… all because you signed-in with a single username and password. Authentication could even be handled by your iPhone, if rumors prove true.

There’s nothing really comparable to this on other platforms and for ordinary consumers. Windows Live connects Microsoft’s (s msft) Hotmail, Photo Gallery, Skydrive and a few other services in a loose manner, but it’s pretty fragmented and doesn’t show signs of becoming a cohesive solution any time soon. Google’s (s goog) ecosystem is a strong contender but remains devoid of the spit-and-polish and ease-of-use for which Apple’s products are famous.

Of course, for all of this to be a practical and reliable really would require a truly enormous state of the art data center. If only Apple had something like that

The Work Does Itself

This is also, incidentally, why Apple will never buy Dropbox: They don’t need to. Dropbox is a service that depends on users manipulating data directly in the file system, and that’s a paradigm Apple wants ordinary users to abandon.

In this hypothetical (and, I can’t help think, inevitable) scenario, Apple will provide its customers with ample cloud-based storage as they need it. Users may well enjoy dozens of gigabytes of storage, but never know it. Nor would they ever need to know it. They’ll know only what matters: that they can stream their iTunes library to their devices quickly and in high quality, that their photos are available anywhere they have a connection to the Internet, that the Keynote presentation they started this morning on their MacBook can be finished this afternoon on their iPad without the painful export/import silliness they suffer today.

Connecting the Apple ID with MobileMe is, at least for consumers, the first step toward an exciting new future, one for which Apple has been building the foundations since .Mac was launched in 2002. The pieces are almost all in place, and with Apple’s massive new data center online and Lion available next summer, I think we’re about to experience the most transformative personal computing revolution since the Macintosh itself.

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25 Responses to “iOS 4.2 Beta: Indicator of a Future All-Cloud Apple?”

  1. I can explain the change. They likely switched to CalDAV for the ‘new’ calendar interface. It’s a better standard and should work more reliably in the future.

    I think all you have to do is grab the old events, copy them to the clipboard in ical and paste them into the mobileme calendar in ical. (which should also be caldav.)

    They should fix the mobileme automatic setup in 4.2.


    • AppleBits

      Sweet!!! Love it!! Overall….I really do like MM. Kinda spendy…but the convenience is certainly a major plus!!
      Thanks for your ideas & help and FYI stuff, Sam!!

  2. I am wondering if you have multiple machines whether one of them doesn’t have calendars checked. Have you tried doing a manual sync? Pull down the MobileMe icon next to your clock (looks sort of like the Time Machine icon and select Sync Now.)

    This will display any error messages. (such as a lot of your calendar changing.. which you would expect on a first sync.)

    MobileMe Engineers should be able to diagnose problems that are server-side, although the Genius bar may be able to help if they said they would, but historically they don’t support MobileMe because it is server-side. (in the cloud.)

    • Applebits

      Yes. I’ve got my MM on Mac open right now (done this a few times already). Sync is set to auto, but for the moment, I’ll again click Sync Now. When I do that, the MM box shows it’s syncing, and the small sync circle at the top is spinning. No errors. ODD. I’m doing some more “research” on help forums now…there’s got to be some silly thing that I’m missing, or needs reset. But for the life of me, I can’t find it.
      Since it’s a good hour+ drive to Apple, I think I’ll try the online support. ;)

      • AppleBits

        And there we go! After some time on live chat (Thanks, Sam!)… Here’s the scoop.
        Although when I set up my MobileMe Email account on my iphone, etc., there is more to it to get calendars to talk.
        I had to go into Settings, contact/email/calendars, and create a NEW calendar.
        Click on Add Account, choose “Other”, then server is, my username (full account), password, and made Description “MobileMe”.
        That then makes a new calendar for MM. Not sure why that is necessary when the whole added MM account from before includes a calendar sync option. But whatever.
        So then, in order to get all my calendars to show up on all devices, I had to go into my iphone, Settings, Mail, scroll to bottom, click on Default Calendar, and use the new MobileMe calendar, NOT the one created with the MM email address.
        I know…I know…stupid.
        Then….to get all my calendar events FROM my phone to my MM, I had to go into my iphone calendar, click on “calendar” in the upper left corner, then put a checkmark by both my MM email address AND my MobileMe defined calendar (which is now my default).
        THEN….yes, there is more…. then…I had to go into every event in my iphone that was set up BEFORE I created my MobileMe account, and change EDIT the event, and change its default calendar (on EACH EVENT) to the new MobileMe default calendar. Either that or retype all my events into No thanks.

        Now a few things…remember, I was not able (too time wasting at this point) to move all my iTunes junk from windows laptop to Macbook. I would lose all iphone data with a new sync…well without alot of other steps. So for you folks already syncing to you Mac, you are probably not finding any of this an issue.
        I can’t remember what else I was going to say. lol
        Anyway,…I hope that helps someone else down the road that might find this an issue.
        I have to say, I find having to have an iphone calendar and a mac calendar and a work calendar and a MM calendar STUPID as crap. I’m guessing in time Apple will figure out how to truly sync everything…well, sort of like RIM/Blackberry. JUST a thought…..don’t shoot me down, folks. ;)

  3. “Simon, you’re right, if you start a MobileMe account *after* you create an Apple ID, it doesn’t automatically convert, but you can change your Apple ID anytime by going to the following link @

    Then your Apple ID & MobileMe ID will be in sync :-)”

    I just went to this apple page and tried to change my Apple ID to my MobileMe id. The page rejected it saying, “this email address reserved for mobileme accounts”…


    • Applebits

      Back door approach: open iTunes. Click on iTunes store.
      Go to log into your iTunes account, but click on Create new Apple I’D.
      Then use your MobileMe email. This allowed me to create a NEW Apple ID that uses my MobileMe info.
      Now, keep in mind, all my personal MM data came over when I created this new account, and all my purchases are still in my library. But, purchases are NOT in that account history, and I will have to reauthorize any machines that were authorized under my other iTunes account.
      Since I’m still in trial mode of MM, I won’t buy anything or authorize yet.
      Still not totally sure I like MM, mostly cuz the calendars do NOT sync between iPhone, iPad, Mac!!!! Tried everything- giving up for now!!! >(

      • Sam Katz

        I continue to be baffled as to why your calendars won’t sync.

        1. Do you have a MobileMe control panel on your Mac? If you go there and sign in, you should see a tab where you can select what to sync.

        I assure you calendars do sync with MobileMe. My parents do it everyday multiple times a day. You can chat (online) with a MobileMe engineer 24/7 at the bottom of any relevant support article, even during your trial period.


      • AppleBits

        Hi Sam,
        Thanks for the post reply. (No reply option directly to you…so I’m doing it here.)

        Re: MM control panel, yes. I have that. Running OS X 10.6.4 as of about 20 minutes ago. Was on the latest ver before today’s update.
        When I go into MM control panel, yes, I’m signed in, and yes, I have contacts and calendars set to sync automatically. Only contacts responds. I don’t dare try the other options just yet. The first day I got things set up, about 2/3 of my contacts got deleted across the board. Had to do a backup install of my iphone.
        So then I restarted, only doing contacts. Worked fine. Then added calendar option. No go.
        Went to the MAC Apple store in our mall yesterday….even their guy there was stumped. He said I may have to take it to the genius bar at the main Apple store.

        I may try your advise of chatting with a MM engineer. I really want to keep MM…but for $100, I want it ALL to work. I did just see a help article (haven’t read it yet) something about OSX 10.6… having some issues. Guess I shouldn’t have updated just now.. lol
        Thanks again. :)

  4. I agree with one of the commenters here…I have both but neither are the same…I had Apple ID long before I had MobileMe and they are not the same…

    actually I had to change my Apple ID when I got my iPhone because for some reason at that point my AOL screen name is how what I used for iTunes and I had to have it changed by iTunes support because it was not allowing me to download apps…not sure if that has changed but that was what happened to me then

    my question is…if they are going to be linked what will happen to my family’s iPhone’s when this happens because I have set up their phones with my MobileMe account only for “Find My iPhone” but not the email, contacts, calendar etc…

    I want to still have access to them to find them as my sister had her last iPhone stolen…

    this has good and maybe bad consequences…I would not mind having my iPhone and iPad set up in this way but I fear this will break what I have set up on their phones…but they don’t have their own MobileMe accounts so maybe this won’t change anything…here is to hoping

  5. Walt French

    I suppose sometime in the near future, we’ll all have 24X7 internet and this will at least be possible.

    But today, many of us spend hours in offices where we’re prohibited from connecting personal machines to the company net (and alternative access is blocked, too) or like to ride trains & airplanes that likewise go thru dead zones. The cloud secondary storage model requires much more careful storage management than anything I envision Apple providing, especially given how half-assed MobileMe continues to be.

  6. This all sounds great, but wont a full-on cloud environment increase data download costs ? Maybe thats fine in the US of A … but elsewhere, data download costs are still not cheap.

  7. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see the point of this post- your Apple ID & MobileMe ID *are* the same- they don’t need to get together. Your Apple ID can be any email address you already have, I know that, but when you setup a MobileMe account, you get an Apple Dot Me (used to be Dot Mac) email address anyway. Which then becomes your Apple ID… What would be truly revolutionary is if you could use your Apple ID to access sync services *without* signing up/ paying for for MobileMe…

    • Simon White

      Abbi Vakil said “…but when you setup a MobileMe account, you get an Apple Dot Me (used to be Dot Mac) email address anyway. Which then becomes your Apple ID…”

      Ummm, not quite. I created my Apple ID a long time before I bought a Mac and subsequently a Mobile Me account. My original Apple ID persists and hasn’t been replaced by my .Mac address. In fact I wish I could just use my .Mac address as my sole ID within the Apple world.

  8. Andrew MacDonald

    I completely agree with all you’ve said in this article. It’s inevitable that this is the way it is going. I pay for MobileMe access, and while it’s good, there is a lot more that could be done with it.

    I think Apple has left Mobile Me to itself without any ‘big’ updates because they are waiting for the new data centre. When that comes online, I think they will really explore and deploy a more cohesive experience for users, tying every one of their iOS and Mac devices together, all with one login name,

  9. PSGInfinity

    Once upon a time, we used dumb terminal to access a mainframe computer. Granted, both ends of the current setup are infinitely more flexible and capable than in days of yore, but I still can’t help feeling that we’re moving forward into the past…

  10. This is one of the more idiotic things I have ever read.

    “I think the offspring would be nothing less than revolutionary.”

    Yeah man. Vive La Revolucion. You must be bored.

  11. My first and only experience with Mobile Me was when I tried to sync my new Mac book with my power mac. I wound up with contacts that were duplicated 3 or 4 times on both machines and with empty key chains on both machines. Will I trust Apple with my data again? No Way.

  12. Just so you guys know…Apple ID’s and MobileMe accounts have always been tied to each other…

    I’ve used MobileMe since it was iTools back in the 90’s, and I’ve never had anything other than one account for both. If you look at your AppleID under managing your account, one of the features there is MobileMe. And no, that didn’t just pop up overnight like yours and all these other false articles suggest.

    I use the same Apple account for iTunes, MobileMe, iOS Developer program, Apple Store, etc. There is no notion of separate MobileMe accounts and there never has been.

    I’ve seen at least 10 of these stories from the various tech blogs, and I guess ya’ll just read someone else’s false claims and re-write it to pick up some ad revenue yourselves. It’s ridiculous. Do some fact checking first and don’t assume someone else is right.

    • Andrew MacDonald

      I did find that part of the article quite weird, as I, like you have had the same experience. I use the exact same user login for iTunes, Mobile Me and the Apple Store.

      • AppleBits

        I’m with you guys. I don’t quite get this article.
        The ONLY thing I can see for me that is a little different is that I am new to MobileMe, and only use a username, not a full email, to use MM.
        But I’m not digging MM so much yet. The contacts sync great. But the calendar…not at all. Between my iphone, ipad, and MBPro, my contacts are the only data that sync. I’m wondering if it has something to do with the “new MobileMe”…. ???

  13. I would be shocked if Apple isnt moving in this direction. It is clearly the trajectory of the broader industry and it is something that makes sense for consumers and even, increasingly, for the enterprise.

    Consumerization and industrialization have an inevitability to them because both drive bottom line value for consumers and businesses. A right sized cloud approach is a key foundation asset in unlocking potential in this segment.

    Ironically, Microsoft has been touting this for years now with the “software plus services” mantra, but they have been unable to execute in a way that has really resonated and they are lacking a clear and singular vision.

    Google and Apple both seem to be, at this stage, well out in front of delivering a model that seamlessly leverages cloud services to expand and extend smart client devices.