Apple overhauls MobileMe, applies 27 fixes

But users continue to complain, even about problems Apple fixed

Apple Inc. said yesterday that it silently applied a major update to MobileMe last month and it outlined nearly 30 fixes to the problem-plagued online e-mail and sync service.

Users, however, continued to post a wide variety of complaints to the MobileMe support forum, including some related to issues Apple claimed it addressed.

In a document dated Wednesday, Apple announced that it had conducted a behind-the-scenes update to MobileMe sometime late last month, then listed 27 different fixes it applied to the service.

"Since MobileMe is primarily a server-side, or 'cloud'-based, service, the MobileMe team can make improvements and push updates to MobileMe without any action being required of MobileMe customers," Apple said.

Among the enhancements to MobileMe that Apple pointed to were:

  • Improves performance in Internet Explorer 7.
  • Improves performance when first logging into MobileMe Mail.
  • Addresses an inaccuracy of used storage in a Group iDisk.
  • Improves calendar performance with reoccurring events.
  • Resolves an issue where some buttons were not fully displaying in Firefox 3.

MobileMe, which debuted in July as a revamp of Apple's former online service, .Mac, had a very rocky start. Users complained bitterly about a broad range of problems from the start, including slower-than-advertised synchronization between computers and a day-long outage on opening day.

Apple apologized for the shaky debut a week later, and as an olive branch, extended users' subscriptions by 30 days.

Continued problems led CEO Steve Jobs to shake up senior management at the company, and Apple again offered a second subscription extension -- this one for 60 days -- a week later.

"We have already made many improvements to MobileMe, but we still have many more to make," read an e-mail Apple sent to subscribers on Aug. 18. "To recognize our users' patience, we are giving every MobileMe subscriber as of today a free 60-day extension. This is in addition to the one-month extension most subscribers have already received."

Apple characterized the September fixes with a variation of its "It just works" marketing tag line. "Since server-side updates are a bit more innocuous than a standard software update to Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows, it's easy not to notice that updates are occurring. Usually the only hint of these updates is that things just 'work better.'"

Not all users apparently agree. Although the fixes were put in place in late September, complaints have continued to appear on the MobileMe support forum about everything from disappearing e-mails to calendars that won't load.

The latter problem should have been fixed, according to Apple. In the document that spelled out MobileMe's fixes, the company included: "Improves reliability when first loading MobileMe Calendar."

Users, however, disputed that. "Is anyone else having difficulties loading calendars in MobileMe?" asked someone identified as "Beth Bales1" last Saturday. "Mine will not load and I cannot for the life of me determine where to click to notify Apple about this."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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