back to article Apple has that syncing feeling over MobileMe

Apple has rewritten marketing bumf for its MobileMe service after it emerged the "push" service actually needed customers to do their own share of shoving when it came to updating desktop apps. MobileMe, or "Exchange for the rest of us" as Apple bills it, is supposed to push data between online storage, which Apple calls "The …


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  1. Damian Jauregui

    Push, pull, shove

    You ask at the end why a person would want to maintain an identical set of contacts on four macs and two iPhones, simple, he needs his contacts sync'd so that which ever machine he sits at always has the latest info.

    I have the same issue at home in that my wife and I have macs, we both have iPhones and there's a couple of PCs around the house too. My wife uses her Mac Book usually when working from home, but also, for large spreadsheets, etc. she prefers my iMac. I run a lot of VMs, etc. which means I'm often on one of the PCs.

    The point is, when I pick up a skype phone, or my mobile, I want to just see the contacts there, not worry which device I've picked up.

    This is why I will be putting Exchange back in (small business server) as this gives me my bookmarks, email, everything, on any device I happen to have to hand.

  2. Bloodwin

    Oh noes! I have to think for myself!

    Dodgy advertising aside, it's not that much of a hardship to sync if you are leaving your desktop to go out and about. I don't trust technology that much when I have important things to do.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    "Updates made to The Cloud (through a web interface) are instantly pushed to the desktop applications"

    This is wrong at the moment, the updates are pulled in this situation too after a delay of minimum 15 minutes when set to "Automatic" sync.

  4. Lucas S. Bickel
    Jobs Horns

    very strange

    so now the only thing on the linked post is a "We'll be back soon" message.

    seems like el reg stumbled upon something Apple doesn't want to share :)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Quite frankly it's pants

    The service was inaccurately described and it's really unstable.

    I was hoping to use the mobile me account as a bucket for all my mail - but it won't preserve the from address properly like gmail does.

    It's terrible you can't set the sync time to less than 15 minutes too.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: Push, pull, shove

    Repeat after me:

    Macs are PCs

    Macs are PCs

    Macs are PCs

    Macs are PCs

    Macs are PCs

    Macs are PCs

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why 15 minutes?

    " least until a good-old SMTP delivery triggers notification"

    If SMTP (ie - an email) is being used to signal to the "cloud" (what nonsense!) and iphone that a change has been made, and the iphone's IMAP application is polling every minute for any emails, why does it take 15 minutes for the change to be notified? Why doesn't it take one minute at most (and an average of 30 seconds)?

    There seems to be some strange time dilation going on here. Or is this SMTP but not as we know it, Spock?

  8. Jack Adams

    And not forgetting Apple making a £121 pre authorization transcation on your card when you sign up for the service

  9. Will Sheward

    Why pay?

    The whole mobileMe thing is just a wrapper over a load of different services you can pick up for free elsewhere. I sync contacts by using Plaxo (free) to keep contacts up to date across various desktop clients and Gmail contacts then get my iPhone to sync with my Gmail contacts. Gmail's calendar (synced with Thunderbird/Lightning) and accessed from the iPhone takes care of appointments.

    As for mail, the whole point of IMAP is that you don't need to layer another service on top of it to have access to the same inbox from multiple accounts. And who needs yet another email address? And as for 20Gig of online storage, why not just use Amazon's S3 service via Jungledisk's web interface?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    not a mistake

    It *does* push to the desktop provided that your router/firewall allows UDP packets from the MobileMe servers to port 5353 on your machine.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Re: Will Sheward

    "As for mail, the whole point of IMAP is that you don't need to layer another service on top of it to have access to the same inbox from multiple accounts"

    This is actually a very good point - that IS the whole point of IMAP. You don't NEED to sync anything if all your clients are pointing at the same server. What numpty would do otherwise?

  12. Jared Earle

    Hang on ...

    "I block push on my firewall and it won't work!"

    No, really?

    Yes, Apple should document it better, but that doesn't make it broken. It's apparently working out there for a lot of people.

    ps. Where's Webster? I could do with a laugh.

  13. Jonathan Hogg

    Not sure I entirely agree

    Based on what I've heard and the behaviour of my device(s), the syncing is something like the following:

    * MobileMe -> iPhone : only a short delay (in the order of seconds)

    * iPhone -> MobileMe : a little longer - I think hampered by how often the web page polls the server

    * MobileMe -> Mac : similar to the iPhone -> MobileMe delay

    * Mac -> MobileMe : only on the 15 min sync intervals

    The fact that the Mac -> MobileMe updates aren't immediate beggars belief. It seems odd that Apple are unable to get this working smoothly on OS X. Have they moved so many developers off the desktop OS onto the iPhone that they've forgotten how to program it?

    Also, the push email of MobileMe really is push I think. My phone beeps within a second of the SMTP servers accepting the mail. This would seem consistent with people who have been saying that instant push doesn't appear to work when on WiFi - I think the push is coming over the 3G/GSM connection not the IP connection.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    The sooner an installer for a SyncML client is added to the App Store the better... although, with Apple pushing (no pun intended) their MobileMe service, I doubt they'll allow one on there any time soon...

    With SyncML I'll be able to connect to my MDaemon server and sync whichever contact list or calendar I want - not just Outlook's default one.

    Paris.. because she'll sync with anything.

  15. jai

    can you hear that?

    it's the sound of Webster printing this article out and sticking it to his wall with blu-tack

    and then probably doing something lewd and gross to himself while reading it

  16. Chad H.

    15 mins is nothing new

    When I was doing blackberry support, we had it hammered into us in training that changes can take up to 15 mins to be reflected across all synced devices.

  17. Anonymous Coward


    "he needs his contacts sync'd so that which ever machine he sits at always has the latest info."

    Er sure - but are you suggesting he moves from desk to desk every 15 minutes throughout the day? And furthermore forgets anything he typed in more than 15 minutes ago?

    Syncing your appointments is good, yes - I like to know my handheld is accurate when I'm in a meeting room. But people who can't remember things they did 15 minutes ago need medical help, not technical...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Push, shove, doesn't matter...

    ...MobileMe is broken.

    The introduction has been even more of a fiasco than last week's iPhone 3G launch.

  19. Andy Watt
    Paris Hilton


    Well, this debate about the stability of a new all-singing all-dancing mash-up of communications protocols and mail / contact storage systems is all very well, but are you people happy about sticking every aspect of your contacts into systems you have no control over?

    The idea leaves me a bit wary.

    Paris, because she got some privacy in the slammer

  20. s. pam Silver badge

    It's not MobileMe -- it's fsck me

    Let's put the previous comments to one side and display the other utterly disgusting mess that Apple created with moving from .Mac to MobileMe (I'm a Mac user @ $HOME and a PC user @ work). You had no notice, unlike Hotmail Classic or the new Hotmail Live, you had no decision point, you were UPGRDED w/o permission, explanation, or anything that made sense. My wife sat for 2 hours away from her Mac trying to figure how to sign in, only to finally get a pop-up that says "We don't support IE7, try Safari or FireFox. OK, so IE7 ain't supported, that would have been nice to know, FireFox is mainstreamed that's OK, but like massive DUOH Safari, if she were in front of Safari she'd be using her Mac.

    To make matters worse, you now have more email addresses, AND, and YOU have to decide which one to send from, which will be at best problematic, and at worse, cause some folks email to probably not make it through some firewalls or PGP-signed private emails.

    Apple, you bunged this up in a right mess. Fess up, you'd look so much better than the Redmond-lot if you just did and said that, and professed you're going to fix it. Going Ostrich won't work.

  21. adrianm

    safari on windows

    If you were sitting in front of Safari you could well be using XP. Although I agree, fairly unlikely.

  22. Christian Gerzner


    I am nor a happy mobile me recipient.

    Done all the usual things, jumped through the usual hoops, but as soon as I attempt to manage more than, say, five posts - haven't exactly counted - the whole thing dies.

    Most un-Mac.

  23. Simon Greenwood

    Less than successful

    The whole migration has been a fiasco. It's still unstable, and over the weekend didn't even support Firefox 3 on OS X. I use a Linux laptop at work and it still doesn't support Firefox on Linux at all, although I can jig that by sending a valid user agent string. A stunning use of 1990s browser detection technology on a system that claims to be cutting edge! I wouldn't mind if this was a free service but we are all paying for the privilege of being left without functioning web mail ( webmail was shut down for three days without any news of when it would be back or even when went on line). Teething troubles can be expected in any undertaking of the extent of MobileMe but it showed an appalling lack of forethought to withdraw support to paying customers in order to meet the needs of what is effectively a new product. I have complained about this on the Apple Support Discussion Forums but as usual it's been met with the usual wall of silence.

  24. Nick Birch


    Apple just mailed MobileMe users with an apology, a free 30 day extension to the annual subscription and the words "we are going to stop using the word "push" until it is near-instant on PCs and Macs, too."

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Email from Apple to all MobileMe users

    Apple has sent an email to all MobileMe users, apologising for the hiccups and extending everyone's subscription by 30 days.


    We have recently completed the transition from .Mac to MobileMe. Unfortunately, it was a lot rockier than we had hoped.

    Although core services such as Mail, iDisk, Sync, Back to My Mac, and Gallery went relatively smoothly, the new MobileMe web applications had lots of problems initially. Fortunately we have worked through those problems and the web apps are now up and running.

    Another snag we have run into is our use of the word "push" in describing everything under the MobileMe umbrella. While all email, contact or calendar changes on the iPhone and the web apps are immediately synced to and from the MobileMe "cloud," changes made on a PC or Mac take up to 15 minutes to sync with the cloud and your other devices. So even though things are indeed instantly pushed to and from your iPhone and the web apps today, we are going to stop using the word "push" until it is near-instant on PCs and Macs, too.

    We want to apologize to our loyal customers and express our appreciation for their patience by giving all current subscribers an automatic 30-day extension to their MobileMe subscription free of charge. Your extension will be reflected in your account settings within the next few weeks.

    We hope you enjoy your new suite of web applications at, in addition to keeping your iPhone and iPod touch wirelessly in sync with these new web applications and your Mac or PC.

    Thank you,

    The MobileMe Team

  26. Paul

    Adequate compensation

    It's no real hardship and one that has been made much less by the free 30 day extension they've just given me.

  27. David Glasgow

    C'mon Webster, where are you?

    I read all the way through the comments hoping my day would be brightened with a Webster Phreaky spittle-flecked rant.

    He doesn't seem like the sort to take a holiday too far from the interweb. Perhaps he is poorly? If so, get well soon, Webster.

    But then, he might have been abducted by MIB. Or a gray.

    In which case, the Register needs to appoint a new Webster. We just can't digest news like this without him.

  28. Webster Phreaky
    Jobs Halo

    Webster here!

    I just had to get cleaned up after a long session (24 seconds) of whacking off to that picture of Bill Gates sprawled across his computer desk from the 80's...

    Ooohhh.. makes me go all funny down there....

    Anyway, back on topic...

    This is great news! Apple have done the right thing at last! I'm happy 'cos MobileMe is working perfectly for me and I've got an extra 30 days...

  29. jai


    30 days of extra use and what seems to be a suggestion that they've every intention of speeding up the desktop app side of things too (even though I still fail to see why anyone _really_ needs it to be much faster than 15 minutes - exactly what's going to happen in the 14 minutes in between that's going to inconvienance you that much?)

  30. Dave
    Thumb Down

    MobileMe Email to all Users??????


    Must of missed something email, no extension. been a .Mac user for over two years.


  31. Dave
    Thumb Down

    Apple has sent an email to all MobileMe users...Not quite true!!

    "Apple has sent an email to all MobileMe users, apologising for the hiccups and extending everyone's subscription by 30 days."

    I dont think so..... I haven't seen such an email or have any extension to my Mobileme account.... I've also checked with the UK Apple support team, They no nothing about a compensation package..... But hey that doesn't mean alot ;-)


  32. Nick Birch

    MobileMe: 30-day Extension Eligibility and Details

    Seems reasonably clear.

  33. Dave
    Thumb Up

    You have mail!

    Just got the email ...That's good I'm happy with the extension.

    As for Apple UK support.... boooo

    Note to self....must wait longer before complaining. :-)

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Its a design mistake

    "It *does* push to the desktop provided that your router/firewall allows UDP packets from the MobileMe servers to port 5353 on your machine."

    Try forwarding port 5353 to 2 macs. Go on try it LOL. Requiring a port forward is ridiculous it should be using an idle http connection exactly like how Exchange works. Then it would work behind firewalls/routers, at work, at a hotspot, anywhere.

  35. s. pam Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Even more impressive....

    Apology -- pah.

    Reliability -- pah pah.

    Just logged into .Me, which is broken here in Australia (again!) and got the following message:

    "Mail Error

    Mail is unable to communicate with the MobileMe servers. Check your network connection and reload Mail."

    Impressive ---- NOT.

  36. Jules

    Polls IMAP every minute?

    Are you sure? Any decent IMAP server supports the IDLE command, allowing instant new email notification without polling. I'd be rather surprised if apple aren't using it since creating a new connection once per minute would put more strain on their servers than just holding open idle connections kept alive with a NOOP every 15 minutes.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Great, it added 'support' for two things I don't have (touch, iphone) and took away support for the one thing that made it useful - webmail at work ie. firefox on fc4. The one thing I'm happy to configure, my own things like this Air, versus the stuff I can't configure, like the machines at work. Screw you Apple!

    PH because she went to school in the 90s unlike Apple who missed the whole "push came and went kthxbai" in the 90s shite. Also because she likes a good cock-up but if it goes as far as a balls-up too she'd be as happy as much as I'm pissed off.

  38. John McGhie
    Thumb Down

    It doesn't synch subscribed calendars

    Not "Exchange for the rest of us" at all.

    With Exchange, your own calendar and any other people's calendars (e.g. your spouse, your kids...) that you have subscribed to are updated instantly and automatically.

    MobileMe doesn't update the subscribed calendars at all.

    Google is not only free, it's a better service :-)

  39. Kris

    UK Apple Site

    Hey guys, I'm new to this site but enjoyed reading the posts!

    First of all i'm a trail member of the MobileMe service..I thought it would be best to see how much I would use the service before I committed to anything and that was a great idea for me because I was able to see how it sucked sooo much in the first few days!

    Now i'm not enjoying the lack of "push" service on the core mac and pc apps that we all use daily.. but will suffer for as long as they can make it near instant!

    As regards to the email i've not recived anything either from Apple about the service and I read on their support site from the above link that as a trail user i'm getting an extra 30 days too but I'd like to see the email and it changed on my account settings too like it says it will before I believe that :)

    Also relating to what they said about changing the information on their websites about how they discribe MobileMe when talking about desktop apps.. I've yet too see at the time of writing this post that the UK website hasn't been updated at all!! And while i'm on the subject of MobileMe did anyone recieve an announcement email to say it was ready? I signed up to be notified of its release from the apple website and heard nothing! Strange!


    Kris :)

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I just tried to register for the service

    by typing into the browser on my PC and it told me that I have to use Safari or Firefox. Given that I'm using a locked down work PC with Explorer, that effectively means I can't use it as I can't install either of the 2 browsers it asks for as I don't have sufficient admin rights and the IT outsourcer refuses to install additional browsers.

    Looks like I won't be signing up for it..........

  41. Jaco van der Merwe

    Old school

    Seems is type of tech is nothing new. From what I can gather, the service is build on top of MS Exchange's 'push' service, which in turn is a spin-off of the crackberry.

    I love the use of the phrase "long-lived HTTPS request". Sound very much like the HTTP(s) counterpart to IMAP-IDLE.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Apple Breaking RFC Mail spec?

    I've also been affected by the 'downgrade' to service. Since the launch of the 'ME' service on 7/16/08 my email from my has been non-functional.

    Email sent to my DOES NOT BOUNCE like it should when an EMAIL SERVER IS _DOWN_.

    So why is apple breaking RFC2821 and surpressing the delivery of 'UNDELIVERABLE' messages to people effected by their 'downgrade' <strike>'upgrade'</strike> in service?

    I've been sending a few emails to my undeliverable_email@mac/ account and not a one of them since 7/16/08 have returned to me as 'UNDELIVERABLE'. Clearly, the service is down (for the 1% of how many millions of users?) for me. Clearly I should receive an email BACK as UNDELIVERED, shouldn't I? I believe there is a 5 day resend limit per RFC spec.

    Why does Apple think it is in the users best interest to 'hold their mail' when senders to the Me/MacMail account never got a message back saying the message was undelivered?

    I sure hope none of the users have anything critical they need to get access to like banking or other related billing messages..... of course they don't!



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