Sunday 20 July 2008

MobileMe Realisation

I've been using MobileMe since it became available and on the Apple side I've had no issues with it. It syncs easily with iPod Touch and OSX. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the Windows side of things. I've been trying to sync contacts and calendar with Outlook with mixed success. I have my Windows Live account hooked up to Outlook using Outlook Connector. I was under the impression, rather stupidly, that the contacts and the calendar would sync out of the box. There's been none of it. Not even close in fact.

Syncing contacts is the first major issue. If I sync with Windows Contacts then everything works perfectly and the contacts appear. If I use Outlook however OutlookSyncDevice crashes every single time. I'm going to hook in and debug it but I suspect it's linked to Outlook Connector and MobileMe not playing nice. I've no intention of turning off Outlook Connector so that could mean bye bye MobileMe.

Before I jump however lets look at the calendar. Well it's awful. I've tested multiple scenarios with it and so far I'm having no joy with Outlook. In this case I can't even test it with Windows Calendar because for some reason Apple won't support it. I'm now looking at Windows Live Calendar and the cost of using it seems to be perfectly justifiable compared with the cost of using a badly substandard MobileMe.

On a quick note what about the online applications? Well I first used them on OSX and found them pretty useful and responsive. There's nothing really new in what they offer but they are simple enough to use. Move over to Windows and again there's issues. The service doesn't work properly with IE7, I'm very interested to test it with IE8 to see how well it works. You even get an arrogant warning that blames this on IE7 but remember that if Google can develop for IE then you would expect Apple to be able to. So what are the services like on Firefox? Well they work but they're slow and if you're a Firefox user then I'm afraid you can't get your bookmarks synced even though it's one of the support Windows browsers. Weird? Well not really because there's a browser that happens to display the services and let you sync the bookmarks, guess which one? That's right the downright hideous Safari. MobileMe is not a good reason to use Safari, nothing is a good reason to use it in fact. So the online services aren't sitting well for Windows either even though they are meant to be platform independent, kinda the point of the "cloud" concept I would've thought.

The final scenario and the realisation I had was that if I wanted MobileMe to work even a little on the Windows side then I would probably have to abandon my current email accounts and make sure that Outlook is only hooked up MobileMe. I'm not doing it. I've no interest in doing it. I'm sticking with my Windows Live address and services so I'm guessing it's going to have to be goodbye to MobileMe. Let's face it Live Mesh offers a great online storage option along with Office Live Workspace and SkyDrive. There's nothing at all wrong with Live Mail and if I ever decide to sign up to MSN Premium account I'll get calendar sync but lets face it, is it really that important? What about push? Well since it's on a 15 minute delay I can get my Live Mail forwarded to my GMail account and get my N95 to sync every 15 minutes for free. That's a Microsoft flaw however. I shouldn't have to. Live Mail needs IMAP or POP asap.

So what's the lesson from all this? Well I think it's pretty obvious. Computers are still not even close to being user friendly. There's so much infighting and "nerdy" arguments between Microsoft and Apple users, to name but two, that we can't simply get an integrated system that is user friendly. Users don't want to have to understand all the stuff that's going on under the hood. They simply want to be able to sign up to their email, select what they want to sync with and when they look at their Nokia phone they want the same contact list as their email account has and at the moment that is not being offered. It's not just Apple, Google and Microsoft that are to blame for this but they have a lot to answer for. There's room for more than one company in the technology world but only when the systems easily integrate. There's plenty of car companies making money why can't the same be true for IT? Imagine a world were there was a different driving test for each make of car. Then one company would dominate simply due to people not wanting the hassle. I want to see real system integration between the major companies because one will never win out over the rest and the bitter cat fighting is just hurting the consumer. Also lets face it people are sticking to Microsoft because it's familiar and that's a hard habit to break. It's no coincidence that Apple released Boot Camp and Apple hardware sales really started to rise. MobileMe was in the position to really breakdown a few barriers and show that Apple can develop quality software for a different platform in the same way as Microsoft have built Office and Messenger for Mac. I'm not sure they actually can. iTunes is weak as is MobileMe. Lets see something better guys because I'm getting fed up waiting around for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment