Apple makes Find My iPhone free, killing Mobile Me in the process
Apple's Find My iPhone service is now free, which means paying £60 for Mobile Me looks pretty pointless.
Richard TrenholmFormer Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Find My iPhone is the highlight of Mobile Me. It's a feature that locates your phone should you be foolish enough to mislay it, allowing you to track down the device via GPS and, if necessary, remotely lock or wipe it.
Your erstwhile device can be tracked from any Web browser, or any Apple device with the free Find My iPhone app installed. You can also show a message on the screen, imploring anyone finding several hundred quid's worth of smart phone to do the right thing and give it back.
Now that Find My iPhone is free for owners of the latest fruit-flavoured kit, we wonder whether Apple has rendered Mobile Me obsolete.
Mobile Me syncs your email, calendar and contacts from all your Apple devices, which are then accessible via Me.com. Updates are pushed from the cloud to to your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac computer. You also get your own @me.com email address.
The trouble is, these services are all offered for free elsewhere. Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail are just three obvious examples of free webmail with calendar and contacts, which can be synced with your computer's mail software and pushed to your phone.
They also won't leave you tied to a Mobile Me subscription if you come to rely on your @me.com email, although you can use POP3 to migrate from Mobile Me to another service if you want to change.
Mobile Me gives access to iDisk and iGallery online storage. 20GB of online storage isn't bad, but Dropbox offers 50GB or 100GB with more flexible monthly, rather than yearly, price plans. Dropbox also offers Android and BlackBerry apps should you decide to leave Apple's steely embrace. Other services for sharing photos include Google's Picasa and Flickr.
The availability of other services offering the same or better service, for free, made Find My iPhone the killer feature of Mobile Me. Now that it's available free of charge, we reckon you should think hard before signing up for Mobile Me. Think what that £60 could buy you in the sales -- or think of it as the first chunk of money saved towards the iPhone 5.