Earlier today I set an iCal (that's calendar in regular peoplespeak) alarm, "Fix Dinner," for 4:45 this afternoon. I didn't really need the reminder but I wanted to check out the so-called push technology in Apple's new, too cutely named MobileMe web service which, just this week, replaced the venerable .Mac. So it transpired that at 4:45 an alarm rang on my phone and on my battered and aging laptop, which I had just finished running a software upgrade on, but not on the desktop iMac where I had set the alarm to begin with. Go figure.
That's about how well it seems to work, MobileMe - sometimes OK, sometimes not so much. All of which is a big improvement from a couple of days ago. Apple posted a notice on its web site Wednesday that the .Mac service would be down for six hours that evening while .Mac was switched to MobileMe. The six hours stretched to twenty-four-plus, with things limping along - sometimes working, sometimes not at all - until late Thursday evening.
And then the iPhone hit. This time it was a world-wide launch and, following the sun, wave after wave of new iPhone users hit the iTunes servers (and no doubt MobileMe too) to activate. Word is, things ground to a halt in a lot of Apple and telco stores. By mid-morning U.S. Eastern time the iPhone 2.0 software update for those of us hanging with the old hardware entered the fray, potentially sending millions more to the same servers - the upgrade required re-activation by the same process as new phones. I was lucky and only had to try twice - a lot of people, word is, spent a long time waiting.
Just for chuckles, the new (and very cool) iPhone Apps store went online Thursday night too, running through (you guessed it) iTunes. Things pretty much ground to a halt. This afternoon a MobileMe upgrade to OS X - mostly cosmetic, from what I can see - came down the band and as of now things seem to be running, more or less (see above), maybe. Maybe that's because I have all the new features mostly turned off. We'll see.
So what's the take on iPhone 2.0? Eh.
The new phone's main improvements are GPS, an ability to use the faster 3G data network, and reportedly better sound quality due in part to a better speaker and possibly to a plastic, not aluminum, back (a stronger signal, maybe). But for people, including me, who live in areas not served by 3G that's not much, especially since the iPhone's GPS uses Google maps and is therefore also network-dependent. And on the slower EDGE network, especially in places where reception is marginal to begin with, MobileMe's push makes a brutal dent in battery life. When you're in Wi-Fi range you can get all wild and crazy with it - but when you're not, better turn stuff off.
And Notes still don't sync. Both the iPhone and Apple Mail in OS X have beautiful note applications but they don't speak to each other, alas.
Bottom line: I'm glad I didn't stand in one.
*Thanks to Gizmodo for the word.