Apple’s MobileMe goes live

Apple’s MobileMe service has officially launched, after Apple completed a roll-out process that began Wednesday evening.

MobileMe replaces Apple’s .Mac service. Although there are some similar features like online storage and Web page hosting, MobileMe places a greater focus on syncing your information.

For instance, MobileMe offers offers push e-mail, calendars, and contact syncing, keeping your information up-to-date whether they’re viewing it at a computer or an iPhone. Push e-mail is a popular feature among Internet-enabled smartphones, because it requires no interaction from the user — the email is “pushed” from the server to the phone.

Contact and calendar events are synced every 15 minutes on your devices. If you add a calendar event on your iPhone, it will show up on your Mac’s iCal or Entourage calendar shortly after. The same will happen if you post an event on your Mac — in a few minutes it will show up on your iPhone. Deletions work the same way.

This means that your iPhone doesn’t need to be docked or connected to your Mac in order to receive those types of updates. Until now, any updates you made on one device would only be synced when it was connected to the other.

While you can sync your calendars with multiple devices, you will not be able to subscribe to calendars on MobileMe just yet. That is a feature that many .Mac users utilized in the past and one that Apple said was a priority to reinstate.

One piece of good news for Exchange users is that you can use Exchange and MobileMe at the same time. You don’t have to worry about syncing your home and business on the same device.

People that had a .Mac account will automatically be moved to the MobileMe service. Your email address will change to username@me.com, although your .Mac address will still work as well.

New subscribers will not have the option to get a .Mac address — those are now being reserved for users that want an iChat only account from Apple. These accounts give users access to chat only, without any of the other benefits of the service.

On the Web, MobileMe uses an AJAX interface so users will have a similar experience using online apps as they do with their desktop applications.

MobileMe costs $99 per year and offers 20GB of storage and 200GB of monthly data transfer. A family pack for the service costs $149 and includes one individual account plus four Family Member accounts, each with its own email address, 5GB of combined email and file storage, and 50GB of monthly data transfer.

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