Inside Apple's new MobileMe web and iOS apps

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
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).
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 54
    damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,185member
    I don't particularly like Theme v2. Reminds me of a Win app actually.
  • Reply 3 of 54
    str1f3str1f3 Posts: 573member
    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?
  • Reply 4 of 54
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    Sounds nice. I've been unable to login to me.com all day, though.
  • Reply 5 of 54
    hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 54
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 54
    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.'
  • Reply 8 of 54
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 54
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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?
  • Reply 10 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


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



    What do you mean?
  • Reply 11 of 54
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 54
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 54
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 54
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 54
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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.



  • Reply 19 of 54
    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.



  • Reply 20 of 54
    timgriff84timgriff84 Posts: 909member
    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.
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