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Inside Apple's new MobileMe web and iOS apps

post #1 of 55
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Apple's refresh of its MobileMe services brings both a cleaner new iPad inspired web interface for browser-based access and a more optimized app experience for mobile iOS devices.

Apple Theme v2

The biggest update in MobileMe's overnight facelift (described in the page code as "apple_theme_v2") was its new mail component, profiled in our earlier report. The same iPad-like interface that debuted in the Mail beta has now been stretched across the entire MobileMe suite of web apps.

Every component web app now presents a blue bar across the top with a few simple monochrome icons borrowed from iPad. Switching between apps is now done by clicking on the cloud icon, which brings up a large "app switcher" popup control similar to Mac OS X (below).

One frustrating aspect of this type of app navigation is that it complicates any effort to open a second app in another browser tab; attempts to Command clicking on the app switcher to launch the link in another tab are ignored. It is possible to open multiple apps in multiple tabs or browser windows, but this requires typing in the URLs for the various apps, such as:

https://www.me.com/mail/
https://www.me.com/contacts/
https://www.me.com/calendar/
https://www.me.com/gallery/
https://www.me.com/idisk/
https://www.me.com/find/
https://www.me.com/account/




On page 2 of 2: Toward HTML5, .

Toward HTML5, Apple & Google on mobile apps vs web apps

The new apps continue to use SproutCore as their primary JavaScript framework to deliver a rich web app experience. The revamped MobileMe web app suite is still delivered via conventional HTML, except for the revised new Find My iPhone module, which is now implemented in HTML5.

Interestingly, Apple isn't using its new HTML5 web app to bridge desktop and iOS devices; the new Find My iPhone app sniffs out iOS users on iPhones and iPads and tells them to download the company's new app instead.

The new Find My iPhone iOS app looks and works similar to the HTML5 version presented on the web, but uses customized controls and is designed to fit the size and orientation of both iPhone and iPad devices.




Apple & Google on mobile apps vs web apps

This highlights the difference in strategy between Apple and Google in terms of web apps vs mobile apps. While Apple says it fully supports both open, unrestricted HTML5 and its curated, proprietary App Store titles as distinct platforms, it works to provide custom apps wherever possible, because local apps simply provide a more polished experience. Apple could have made its MobileMe Find app only available from the web, and simply expected iPhone and iPad users to adapt. Instead, it provides a customized experience for both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad form factors in the new Universal Find My iPhone app, while serving desktop PCs and other devices via the broadly accessible web-based version.

In the opposite corner, Google has created Android as a way to deliver mobile apps, but clearly focuses on delivering functionality via web apps. Google employees note that the company views Android apps as a stepping stone toward HTML5, which it plans to use to make new apps broadly available to PC browsers, mobile users on multiple smartphone platforms, table users via Chrome OS, and even TV clients.

Outside of Android, Google's broad range of apps are almost entirely web-based (Maps, Docs, Reader, YouTube, Calendar and so on) apart from a few desktop titles like Picassa, Earth, SketchUp and some utilities. For iOS, Google only offers a search app, Earth, and a panoramic upload app related to Earth. Of course, Google has also attempted to deliver iOS apps that Apple refused to carry within iTunes, including Voice and Latitude; Google has since released both as web apps that can run on iPhone and other devices.

Apple on the other hand has always maintained a large number of desktop apps (currently including Pro Apps, iLife, iWork, and apps bundled with Mac OS X) and has only offered a relatively limited number of web apps (including .Mac and MobileMe), although its web portfolio is growing (with retail store apps, developer support sites, and its new iTunes access website).

The success of the iTunes App Store is also focusing Apple's attention on creating new custom apps for its iOS users, including apps for accessing MobileMe features (Gallery, iDisk, Find My iPhone), new apps for developers (WWDC, iTunes Mobile Connect), utilities (Remote, Keynote Remote) as well as full blown productivity apps for iPad (iBooks, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers).
post #2 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple's refresh of its MobileMe services brings both a cleaner new iPad inspired web interface for browser-based access and a more optimized app experience for mobile iOS devices....

In one of the pictures the text says that all the MobileMe apps are available for the iPhone and iPad. This is not true, we have yet to see the Gallery app and the MobileMe app available for iPad.
post #3 of 55
I don't particularly like Theme v2. Reminds me of a Win app actually.
post #4 of 55
It amazes me how there is a lack of cohesion in the UI from the Mac to iPhone to iPad. They all look very different. I was expecting to see the iPhone to take on the design cues of the iPad but that didn't happen. Mail on the Mac is totally different than MobileMe. What happened?
post #5 of 55
Sounds nice. I've been unable to login to me.com all day, though.
post #6 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

In one of the pictures the text says that all the MobileMe apps are available for the iPhone and iPad. This is not true, we have yet to see the Gallery app and the MobileMe app available for iPad.

You can use the iPhone Gallery app and the iDisk app (which I'm assuming is what you meant when you said MobilMe app) on you iPad. It's not ideal, no, but it isn't true to say that they aren't available.
post #7 of 55
Is it just me or is it annoying to have to install an app on someone's iPhone just to locate your phone?

This is an app that, unless they're also subscribed to Mobile Me, will never be used again by the person whose phone you're borrowing.

Keeping it a browser-based experience would've made it simpler and easy to use from any mobile device supporting HTML-5/WebKit.
post #8 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmamboatl View Post

Is it just me or is it annoying to have to install an app on someone's iPhone just to locate your phone?

This is an app that, unless they're also subscribed to Mobile Me, will never be used again by the person whose phone you're borrowing.

Keeping it a browser-based experience would've made it simpler and easy to use from any mobile device supporting HTML-5/WebKit.

Exactly the thought that was running through my mind as I was reading about this 'feature.'
post #9 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmamboatl View Post

Is it just me or is it annoying to have to install an app on someone's iPhone just to locate your phone?

This is an app that, unless they're also subscribed to Mobile Me, will never be used again by the person whose phone you're borrowing.

Keeping it a browser-based experience would've made it simpler and easy to use from any mobile device supporting HTML-5/WebKit.

I wondered about this, too, but having used Find My iPhone service via the web on an iPhone, I've found the app to be far faster / more convenient. If you've a need to locate, lock or kill a lost/stolen iPhone, any time savings might be useful. For parents whose children are lucky enough to carry iPhones, I think the new app will be very welcome, too.
post #10 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

You can use the iPhone Gallery app and the iDisk app (which I'm assuming is what you meant when you said MobilMe app) on you iPad. It's not ideal, no, but it isn't true to say that they aren't available.

It will be nice when iOS 4 is out so we can make a folder for all the MobileMe apps (as I would suspect there will be more coming). BTW is there any way to select an icon for an iPhone folder?

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post #11 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

BTW is there any way to select an icon for an iPhone folder?

What do you mean?
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post #12 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

What do you mean?


Something other than a black rounded rectangle. Make it visually unique for quick recognition.

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post #13 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Something other than a black rounded rectangle. Make it visually unique for quick recognition.

No. You can see the icons within it, even on the 470x320 display and you can rename it. Plus, most will put in one place and know where it is by that location so I don't expect Apple to address this as I don't think it will be an important option they will beg for.


BTW, I thought may have been asking if you can add the iPhone icon to a folder, hence my query. You can put any app into a folder but you can't make the folder in the Dock row. IOW, you can't drag an app to anything in the Dock, but you can drag them out to make a folder and even move a folder to the Dock when you are done. For example, you could have all your apps in folders in the Dock with a nice fancy background image starring back at you if you wish.
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post #14 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

No. You can see the icons within it, even on the 470x320 display and you can rename it. Plus, most will put in one place and know where it is by that location so I don't expect Apple to address this as I don't think it will be an important option they will beg for.

I guess but I like that I can zoom into a part of a web page to create a web clip icon to be visually identifiable seems natural that people would like to have the ability to customize a folder icon as well. Like the MobileMe cloud icon would be great to collect all the related apps.

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post #15 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I guess but I like that I can zoom into a part of a web page to create a web clip icon to be visually identifiable seems natural that people would like to have the ability to customize a folder icon as well. Like the MobileMe cloud icon would be great to collect all the related apps.

I see where you're coming from, but note that WebClip icons aren't customizable either. They are up to the site owner to create them and you are stuck with what they decide.

Even if this was something that was only done via iTunes by right clicking on the icon and choosing an alternative, zooming and centering like with iChat avatars would be nice. I say submit it to Apple, but if they can't even give us a rich notification system don't expect any miracles.
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post #16 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I see where you're coming from, but note that WebClip icons aren't customizable either. They are up to the site owner to create them and you are stuck with what they decide.

if they have <link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="/whatever.jpg"/> but if they don't have that you can try to fill the screen with the website logo before you do the clip which causes it to fill the icon with the logo.


Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I say submit it to Apple, but if they can't even give us a rich notification system don't expect any miracles.

Sorry your App has been rejected because it replicates features of the iOS base functionality.

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post #17 of 55
While I appreciate the new found speed of the MobileMe Mail app, I think that having to click on the Cloud only to click on another button to switch apps was a waste of someone's time. As mentioned, it makes it difficult to have different apps open in different tabs, but it's also an extra click.

Since it's an interface that's only allowed to be used with non iPhone/iPod/iPad computers, there was no need to 'save' space and delete all the extra icons. There's room for all. In fact, I was hoping they'd add a couple icons for web versions of Pages and Numbers.. I know, but I'm a dreamer.
post #18 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

if they have <link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="/whatever.jpg"/> but if they don't have that you can try to fill the screen with the website logo before you do the clip which causes it to fill the icon with the logo.

And you can't adjust that image either. The icon filled with the top 9 sites is usually easier than the icon it makes from most websites, at least the ones I've tried.

Quote:
Sorry your App has been rejected because it replicates features of the iOS base functionality.

I know you are joking, but for the sake of clarity I mean submit it to Apple as an iOS app, submit it to Apple as a feature it needs to add to iOS.
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post #19 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I know you are joking, but for the sake of clarity I mean submit it to Apple as an iOS app, submit it to Apple as a feature it needs to add to iOS.

I know but by the time I figured out if it even can be written as an App, Apple will have gotten around to doing it since it seems like that feature would be a no brainer, at least to me.

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post #20 of 55
The new mobileme interface looks ugly. The previous look was beautiful and sleek. I want that back. Please someone tell apple switch back to previous interface. App switcher is waste of time.

Please provide feedback to apple for switching this back.

post #21 of 55
Apple must be the biggest supporter of html5 without actually using it to a great extent. Which kind of confirms not allowing flash and silverlight is more about stopping competition rather than anything else.

I really like mobile me, just a shame it's not worth the money, functionaly now inferior to free alternatives it's a lot of money to ask for a skin. Make it free and I'll joing again, otherwise it seems I'm going to have to start syncing my stuff elsewhere.
post #22 of 55
I want Mail on my Mac and my iPhone to be what it is now on Me.Com. I want alignment, fonts, sizes, colors, etc. easily accessible. I don't understand why these improvements are not included in Apple Mail itself.

Any thoughts?
post #23 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

Apple must be the biggest supporter of html5 without actually using it to a great extent. Which kind of confirms not allowing flash and silverlight is more about stopping competition rather than anything else.

I really like mobile me, just a shame it's not worth the money, functionaly now inferior to free alternatives it's a lot of money to ask for a skin. Make it free and I'll joing again, otherwise it seems I'm going to have to start syncing my stuff elsewhere.

Just having back to my Mac and auto contact syncing is worth it for me.

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post #24 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

Apple must be the biggest supporter of html5 without actually using it to a great extent. Which kind of confirms not allowing flash and silverlight is more about stopping competition rather than anything else.

I really like mobile me, just a shame it's not worth the money, functionaly now inferior to free alternatives it's a lot of money to ask for a skin. Make it free and I'll joing again, otherwise it seems I'm going to have to start syncing my stuff elsewhere.

See ya... You will not be missed
post #25 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmamboatl View Post

Is it just me or is it annoying to have to install an app on someone's iPhone just to locate your phone?

This is an app that, unless they're also subscribed to Mobile Me, will never be used again by the person whose phone you're borrowing.

Keeping it a browser-based experience would've made it simpler and easy to use from any mobile device supporting HTML-5/WebKit.

same here.
post #26 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

Apple must be the biggest supporter of html5 without actually using it to a great extent. Which kind of confirms not allowing flash and silverlight is more about stopping competition rather than anything else.

I really like mobile me, just a shame it's not worth the money, functionaly now inferior to free alternatives it's a lot of money to ask for a skin. Make it free and I'll joing again, otherwise it seems I'm going to have to start syncing my stuff elsewhere.

I think there have been enough written about the issues with Flash in this site, to confirm it is not just about competition. I would love to see some new factual opinions that support your argument, but I doubt, you have any.
post #27 of 55
IMO it should sync back and forth between devices and cloud like Dropbox. The first 5 GB should be free. Put in iAd if necessary.
post #28 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Just having back to my Mac and auto contact syncing is worth it for me.

Thats my point though, M$ already offer back to your pc for free and have done for a while. Syncing on all the live stuff also just announced as being free. I don't think any of the mobile me stuff is bad, it's just the really high price tag I can't get passed. If it was £10 maybe but £60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by souliisoul View Post

I think there have been enough written about the issues with Flash in this site, to confirm it is not just about competition. I would love to see some new factual opinions that support your argument, but I doubt, you have any.

I wouldn't say I'm a big flash fan, but as for silverlight, win phone 7 runs on it so it's doable. My point it on one hand we have apple saying there's no need for any of these plugins, but at the same time there not producing anything major in html5 and still doing it all in their propriatory formats. You can't have it both ways.
post #29 of 55
Comments anyone?
post #30 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

... I wouldn't say I'm a big flash fan, ...

You don't have to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

... but as for silverlight, win phone 7 runs on it so it's doable. ...

What what logic do you compare what is possible in two different technologies from two different developers?
post #31 of 55
I could read my mail with 1 click before - now I need 2
Is it suppose to be an improvement?

The "new" MobleMe compared to what .Mac was is rubish.
post #32 of 55
Hard to believe there are no iPad apps for Mobile Me Gallery, or iDisk. WTF?
post #33 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

Hard to believe there are no iPad apps for Mobile Me Gallery, or iDisk. WTF?

Apple does some wonky things. Maybe the others will be revamped so they at least look decent for the iPhone 4's display.

One that always gets me is Apple's web apps site. A site that was not designed to be idealized for your iPhone where one is likely to be looking for these apps.
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post #34 of 55
Nice article, especially for those like me without Mobile Me to see what it look likes now after the changes.
post #35 of 55
I dunno know...I sort of like the original Mobile Me layout. One click to get to the other areas, instead of two. Now, a new user could be excused to thinking that Mobile Me is only email, as that is all they see when they log in.
post #36 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

It amazes me how there is a lack of cohesion in the UI from the Mac to iPhone to iPad. They all look very different. I was expecting to see the iPhone to take on the design cues of the iPad but that didn't happen. Mail on the Mac is totally different than MobileMe. What happened?

It's because of different teams working on different areas... Apple's strengths and shortcomings are the result of this. Steve spoke about this (well, the strengths) at the All Things D conference. He says there are different teams, working in their areas, but the management meets weekly to be on the same page, etc.

But the shortcomings are this. One particular team may be blazing ahead, while the other teams may be falling behind, or just pursuing a different path. While the teams do not compete with each other directly, like in some other companies, this brings about incongruence.

One could argue right now iOS is so favoured over Mac OS, whether by chance or by design. As such, iOS is blazing ahead, and the MobileMe team decided to follow their lead. What of Mac OS? Well, it could be said that 10.7 will borrow heavily from the iOS UI. Current new Mac users coming from iPhone and iPad are very lost when coming to the Mac OS. The concept of dragging an "App" from your mounted DMG to the Applications folder seems very alien to them, they keep asking, "So where are my applications? How do I install and uninstall them?". Some people drag Applications out of the Applications folder then delete them, or it's littered on the desktop. Mac OS 10.7 might as well have an iOS-like Home screen for adding and deleting your apps. Laugh now, just watch. I do basic training classes for new Mac users at a local Apple Reseller with several shops, so this is my experience, FWIW. Funnily, some people are lost on the multi-touch trackpad, they're like tap, tap tap, click click click, wha...? Bringing multitouch to Mac is interesting, but for new users, it ain't like how intuitive it is on iPhone and iPad.

Honestly though, the average IQ of people using Macs has dropped. Call me an elitist, and of course this is just my instinct, but it does make sense that as more and more Macs are sold to new users the demographic of Mac users is changing dramatically. To a more average-minded crowd. I'm sure you all notice this in your own experiences. Those helping friends out with computers have less support questions when their friends switch to Macs. But said friends may still be quite clueless on certain things, and for example things like Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac works in a different, sometimes baffling way.

Thus, in conclusion, if any, I would say that because of the way Apple is run right now, with Steve trying to be more of a facilitator among the teams, while pushing his own ideas (based more around particular new innovations he's keen on), there will be a lot of incongruence in Apple. A final example is, product design can be so "advanced", ala Mac mini unibody, but you have to ask "Why unibody?", "Why that price", and on the service, support, and supply chain side they might be catching up to meet the quality expectations brought about by such finely tuned, luxury-perceived designs.
post #37 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

This highlights the difference in strategy between Apple and Google in terms of web apps vs mobile apps. While Apple says it fully supports both open, unrestricted HTML5 and its curated, proprietary App Store titles as distinct platforms, it works to provide custom apps wherever possible, because local apps simply provide a more polished experience. ...

In the opposite corner, Google has created Android as a way to deliver mobile apps, but clearly focuses on delivering functionality via web apps. Google employees note that the company views Android apps as a stepping stone toward HTML5, ...

Simply put: Google is pushing Android to use more of its web-based services.. This is Android's key-killing feature, because after all that is Google's main revenue. This doesn't sound too good for Android software developers..
post #38 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post

One could argue right now iOS is so favoured over Mac OS, whether by chance or by design. As such, iOS is blazing ahead, and the MobileMe team decided to follow their lead. What of Mac OS? Well, it could be said that 10.7 will borrow heavily from the iOS UI.

That is my same impression, seeing how Apple is doing more and more keynote events focusing on iPhone OS (now iOS), can't really blame them though since iPhone and iPod touch have become Apple's biggest money generators. Consumers are moving toward smaller and more compact smart devices..

It's possible we're going to see Mac OS UI changed to look more like iOS UI. It's obvious enough to see, that Steve Jobs believes touch-oriented display is going to be the game changer in defining the future of computers. The man himself has even put his name into one of the owners of 358-thick page of iPhone multi-touch patent..
post #39 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by jitendra View Post

The new mobileme interface looks ugly. The previous look was beautiful and sleek. I want that back. Please someone tell apple switch back to previous interface. App switcher is waste of time.

Please provide feedback to apple for switching this back.


Doesn't the cloud icon remind you of the Windows Start button?
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post #40 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by kilimanjaro View Post

That is my same impression, seeing how Apple is doing more and more keynote events focusing on iPhone OS (now iOS), can't really blame them though since iPhone and iPod touch have become Apple's biggest money generators. Consumers are moving toward smaller and more compact smart devices..

It's possible we're going to see Mac OS UI changed to look more like iOS UI. It's obvious enough to see, that Steve Jobs believes touch-oriented display is going to be the game changer in defining the future of computers. The man himself has even put his name into one of the owners of 358-thick page of iPhone multi-touch patent..

It was Steve that said, "I want to type on a glass surface" and that was apparently the birth of the iPad/ iPhone/ iPod touch (All Things D Conference interview).

When Apple came "back" into existence from the brink of irrelevance, OS X was their stronghold, their key differentiator. iMac, then iBook, all looked and worked great because Windows was well, you know, Windows. iPod was a popular device, but in hindsight, the iPod interface was always quite simple. Functional and cool, but simple.

Now in the past few years we have a whole new breed of people who are basically PC users and iPhone, iPad users. So when they get a Mac, they expect everything to be as easy as iPhone and iPad, and then get confused and annoyed when they realise, it's actually a very powerful, full-fledged operating system that's great, but just works a little differently.

OS X is not in trouble, but has a bit of an identity crisis now. It is nothing like Windows, for the new user. At the same time, it's nothing like iOS.

Apple will of course continue to sell loads of iPhones, iPod touches, iPads and Macs.

But OS X, especially looking towards 10.7, will change quite a bit, I imagine. I bet you Steve and a lot of the iOS teams at Apple are kind of giving dirty looks towards the OS X team... taunting them... saying, "Come on, be like us, be cool, be hip, be brainlessly easy to use... What's that? You've got powerful technologies under the hood and you're extremely advanced? Who cares, most people new to Mac just want Internet, email and Word on a Mac! iTunes? Nobody bothers to sync and deal with iTunes, they just go on using their iPad and iPhone for months and months without syncing!"
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