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Apple gives MobileMe a makeover

But still $99 a year

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MobileMe didn't go free, despite the rumours, but it has got a new look and some improved features.

Apple has renovated its cloud-based service with better email and faster performance, as well as a new iPhone application you can use to find your lost iPad.

The layout improvements are mainly tweaks, but there is some meat in the addition of SSL when using a web browser, mail consolidation (so MobileMe will collect email from other addresses) as well as better junk handling and task switching.

MobileMe users can already track their lost iPhone using the web site, but these days your Apple fan might have more than one piece of Cupertino hardware so Apple has provided a new application that uses your iPhone to track your iPad, or vice versa. You can also borrow someone else's iOS device if you can't get to a web browser for some reason.

But all this functionality still costs $99 a year, despite rumours to the contrary. The idea of Apple providing some sort of free version of MobileMe has been mooted over the last few months, given Microsoft and Google are falling over themselves to provide comparable functionality for nothing.

Cupertino has decided that punters will pay for a quality service, and despite early hiccups (well, more of a coughing fit) MobileMe does appear to be stable these days and rewarding those who didn't jump ship to cheaper alternatives. ®

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