iCloud: What's in, what's out for MobileMe users

Web calendar and contacts in, iDisk and password sync out, says Apple

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What's happening with MobileMe's iWeb and Gallery? They'll vanish in June 2012.

Neither service is making the move to iCloud, so June 30, 2012, is the date to remember: After that, a site (or sites) you've published to iWeb, and photos or videos you've stored on Gallery, will be inaccessible.

Apple recommends that users move their iWeb sites to another hosting firm, and either sync Gallery with iPhoto '08 or later, or download the photos and movies to the hard drive of a Mac or Windows PC.

Can I keep my .me or .mac email address? Yes. "If you have an active MobileMe account when you sign up for iCloud, you'll be able to keep your me.com or mac.com email address," Apple said.

Will iCloud sync my passwords between Macs like MobileMe? Nope. "Syncing of Mac Dashboard widgets, keychains, Dock items and System Preferences will not be part of iCloud," Apple said in its transition FAQ.

"Keychain" is Apple's name for its password management system, so once you shift to iCloud, you won't be able to sync passwords between Macs using Apple's service.

Instead, you'll have to switch to a password service or manager that supports synchronization. The $40 1Password, for instance, stores passwords on all your personally owned Macs and uses Dropbox to sync. A free alternative is LastPass, an all-online password manager that syncs across multiple browsers, OSs and devices.

Both Dropbox -- which 1Password relies on for sync -- and LastPass have had confirmed or suspected security breaches this year, however, so the cautious may want to standardize on Chrome or Firefox on all their Macs, then use the browser's built-in sync service.

What about Find My iPhone? It will live on in iCloud, says Apple.

According to reports, Mac OS X 10.7, a.k.a. Lion, will also support a Find My Mac tool serviced by iCloud. Like the long-available Find My iPhone, the new tool will let users pinpoint the location of a lost or stolen Mac.

iCloud's 5GB of storage space seems pretty puny. Can I opt for more? Apple says you can, but it hasn't spelled out how much additional space will cost.

Remember that iCloud won't count music, apps and books you've purchased through iTunes, the App Store or iBooks against the 5GB. Nor will the 1,000 images in Photo Stream, iCloud's photo-sync service for iOS devices, Macs and Windows PCs.

I know Apple has extended my MobileMe subscription through June 2012, but I'm not happy about the changes. Can I get my money back? Yes. You can cancel your subscription at any time and receive a prorated refund, said Apple. If you paid the $99 annual fee six months ago, for instance, you'd have $49.50 coming.

But if you do cancel, all of your MobileMe services will stop working and your data will be deleted.

Our suggestion: Wait until this fall to cancel -- after you've migrated to iCloud -- so that you can retain your .me or .mac email address, and keep syncing your calendar and contacts.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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