Apple went live yesterday with a long list of awaited updates: iOS5, Mac OS X 10.7.2, and iCloud. I decided to dive in headfirst and install the new software on my devices and flip the switch on iCloud.
I’ve been a MobileMe/.Mac/iTools user since day one in early 2000. The cost was a little steep, but there was always just enough to keep me renewing my membership. Being able to sync lots of data between computers at the OS level was a huge convenience. I built a few small websites, shared calendars, and took advantage of the iDisk for cloud storage. Again, nothing earth-shattering, but it met my needs.
After installing 10.7.2 on the Mac and restarting, the System Preferences open and nudge you toward iCloud. Clicking the button takes you to Apple’s web page where it walks you through the steps, and offers some strong warnings worth noting. For example, if you have a MobileMe Family Pack and haven’t assigned the other accounts to anyone you better jump back over there and do it because that option goes away a few clicks later. I had two unused accounts left so I set up email addresses for my children who are still too young to even know what email is, and I can use them (or not) at some later date.
Another checkpoint along the way reminds you that while there still will be cloud syncing for certain features, a host of other ones will go away like keychains, System Preferences, email smart mailboxes, dock items, and more. I didn’t care about most of them, but losing the ability to sync keychains is a bummer.
In the end, I like how smoothly the sync engine seems to be performing and I already notice fewer headaches with duplicate entries and resolving conflicts between devices. One thing I struggled with late into the night was the former ability to share calendars with other MobileMe users. Our family has one centralized schedule set up in iCal, and I would use MobileMe’s share feature to be able to see or edit that calendar from anywhere. Now that I’m technically no longer a MobileMe user I’ve lost that ability. There may be a workaround but I haven’t found it yet.
The early reports show that this switchover has not been the technical meltdown that accompanied the launch of MobileMe a few years back (Steve Jobs was famously enraged by that rollout, and I’m sure he applied plenty of pressure in the planning stages to prevent a repeat). In the coming days I’ll dig deeper into iCloud and see what works and what doesn’t.