MobileMe replaces .Mac, adds iPhone-friendly features

Apple rebranded its .Mac online service Monday, adding syncing features aimed at iPhone and PC users in addition to the Mac.

Dubbed MobileMe, the new service offers push e-mail, calendars, and contacts for users, keeping that information up-to-date whether they’re viewing it at a computer or an iPhone. The Web-based MobileMe works with the iPhone’s mail, calendar, and contacts applications in addition to working with Mail, iCal, and Address book on the Mac and Outlook on the PC.

It’s like having “Exchange for the rest of us,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing during his presentation of MobileMe at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

Thanks to MobilMe's AJAX-enabled interface, users will have a similar experience using the Web applications as they do with desktop software. For example, you can drag and drop calendar events to move then as in iCal and narrow down contacts as you type as in Address Book. The e-mail software also works a lot like Mail, letting you drag messages into folders to file them away, and includes a quick reply feature that pops up a box to input and send your reply to a message.

MobileMe also offers online storage for photos, documents, and files. The .Mac Web Gallery has been incorporated, and you can e-mail photos directly from an iPhone. You can also move photos around just like you can in iPhoto. iDisk also gains a Web interface, from which you can e-mail links for users to download files directly from the Web rather than including them as e-mail attachments.

Current .Mac users will become MobileMe members automatically, and can continue to use their mac.com e-mail addresses.

Like .Mac, MobileMe will cost $99 per year; it offers 20GB of storage. There will be a 60-day free trial available when the iPhone 2.0 software ships in early July. Current .Mac subscribers will be automatically upgraded to MobileMe.

As Steve Jobs took the stage at the end of the demo, he said about MobileMe, "I think we finally got it right."

[Updated at 12:41PM PDT to add details about how the Web applications work and how MobileMe applies to .Mac customers, and a quote from Steve Jobs.]

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