Apple today made several announcements regarding MobileMe, its collection of online services that include webmail, cloud storage, and other features. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t make the $99-a-year MobileMe free, despite the many good reasons it should have. Instead, it unveiled upgrades to MobileMe Mail, as well as an iPhone app for the “Find My iPhone” service.
As expected, the new MobileMe mail is faster and offers increased SSL security (something that Gmail has had for a few years). It also adds widescreen and compact viewing options, support for external email addresses, and improved junkmail filtering. If you’re not already subscribing to MobileMe, the improved email certainly isn’t anything worth throwing down cash for, but it’s a worthwhile upgrade for current members.
The “Find My iPhone” service is a recent addition to MobileMe, and like the service’s 20 gigabytes of online storage, it’s one of the few reasons why many are still continuing to pay for it. With the Find My iPhone app, you can now locate your lost iPhone from another iPhone, or an iPod Touch.
Previously, you had to log onto MobileMe’s web interface to use the feature, which didn’t work on the iPhone or iPod Touch. The app grants you all of the same capabilities as the web interface: You can locate your iPhone via GPS, display a message remotely on your iPhone’s screen, play a sound on the phone, change the password, and even erase the device completely.
While it’s nice to know that Apple hasn’t forgotten MobileMe completely, it still seems as if the service lacks direction. Better webmail offerings like Gmail have been around for some time, and it’s strange that Apple isn’t offering something desirable like Find My iPhone separate from the $99 annual service. If Find My iPhone were available on its own for a more reasonable $20-$30 annual fee, Apple would see many new users jumping on it.