If you’re a MobileMe user, you’ve probably heard by now that it will cease to be in just a couple of weeks, on June 30th. But what do you do if you want to use some of the functionality that will not be available in iCloud? Or what if you can’t yet upgrade from an OS older than Lion? In this article we’ll discuss a few options for those of you who’re having a hard time with the transition.
First, we’ll start with functionality that will disappear in iCloud:
If you have an iWeb site that isn’t hosted on MobileMe, you don’t need to worry. But if you are in that situation, there are a two main ways to save your content.
For those of you more technically inclined, it’s fairly simple to export your iWeb site. But if you would rather have this done in a more automated way (though it will still require some fine-tuning on your part), there is now an update to Sandvox that will scrape your MobileMe site’s content and provide you with an outline that you can customize before publishing.
Many folks will already have a copy of their photos and videos within their iPhoto library. If you don’t, you can simply sync it with your computer in iPhoto or Aperture. But if you’re hosting your gallery in the cloud and would like to keep it in the cloud, there are quite a few popular image-hosting sites, depending on your specific needs.
Two of the most popular are Flickr and Picasa. Both have specific apps available on iOS that include uploading capabilities, and neither requires viewers to sign up for the service in order to see your content. Flickr also has the convenience of already being integrated into iPhoto and Aperture.
Rescuing your files from iDisk is a dead simple drag-and-drop operation. Getting them back into the cloud, there are plenty of ways you can go. Dropbox and Box seem to be the most popular options for replacing iDisk’s file-sharing capabilities.
Box positions itself as a more secure and business-friendly option. With the incredible granularity of access and encryption options that are available in the Enterprise version, this totally makes sense. (Its URL even defaults to HTTPS. So cool!) The Business version has some impressive security options as well. The free version offers mobile apps, secure transfer, notifications when your shared files have been accessed and the ability to edit documents in the cloud.
There are quite a few iOS apps that integrate nicely with Dropbox and Box, editing files as well managing and sharing them. All in all, that’s pretty handy!
And now, for those of you who’re stuck on older OSes that are not compatible with iCloud, what options are available to you until you’re able to upgrade to the latest and greatest?
Mail, Contacts, Calendar
This one is sort of a no-brainer, so I won’t go into much detail. Almost any free email service will be an adequate replacement for these features. Gmail is undoubtedly the most widely used free email service, and it offers all these options and more. It’s integrated with most smartphones by default, and there’s a specific iOS app if you prefer.
My own personal favorite bookmark replacement is Evernote. I think every last one of my friends is sick of me singing epic love songs about its incredible array of features. You can save web-content, write notes, take snapshots (and search their alphanumeric content!), share files… and it’s all free. Swoon!!
Back to My Mac
Back to my Mac is essentially a very limited Virtual Private Network (VPN). There are scads of VPN clients available depending on your needs, but for the purposes of this article I’ll stick to a free option that you can access from iOS and OS X, called Hamachi.
Hamachi is incredibly user-friendly and takes minimal technical know-how to set up, which I see as one of its biggest selling points. All you have to do to set this up is to install its software on any device you wish to be accessible. The server is managed for you, like Back to My Mac.
Find My Phone
This is where you’re going to be the hardest hit if you don’t have access to iCloud. There are options, but they’re not free and they don’t cover the same features. But in a pinch, there are two main options.
If Found allows you to display a message on your lock screen, so that you can provide contact information if someone finds your iPhone. This can be a major headache-preventer: It means you still get the security of locking your iPhone, and if someone finds your phone they can notify rather than just having to turn it to some nearby location.
iHound is the most similar to the functionality of Find My Phone. It allows you to push alarms and messages to your phone, and it has GPS functionality. The initial download is free, but its service is sold as a subscription.
In the end, it’s always safest to use the latest OS. But until you can get that new Macbook that’ll allow you to upgrade your ancient iBook from Leopard, these things should see you through.