iCloud kills iWeb sites and MobileMe Galleries

Apple has revealed the full extent of its forthcoming iCloud service and, although it's all very nice for new users, anyone who has been using the company's paid-for MobileMe service might feel justifiably miffed.

iCloud, which will be rolled out alongside iOS5 this autumn, is a free-for-all cloud service which stores music, photos, apps, calendars and documents and wirelessly pushes them to up to ten devices running iOS5 or iOSX Lion.

Although Apple has retained the ability to sync Mail, Contacts, Calendar and Safari bookmarks, as well as stolen device tracker Find My iPhone and and system restore software Back to My Mac, there are a number of popular MobileMe features which won't make it into iCloud.

Existing MobileMe subscribers will have their current accounts extended until the end of June 2012 but, after that date, and web sites created using apple's iWeb application and hosted by MobileMe will be gone forever.

Also doing a disappearing act will be MobileMe photo galleries and the entire contents of iDisk storage.

Where did my web site go?
Apple says MobileMe users will be allowed to continue using iWeb, Apple's stripped-down WYSIWYG site-building application until June 2012 but, after that, they will have to find their own hosting solution and manually transfer the whole site and its assets using FTP.

Although its not a complex procedure, it's a fair bet that anyone prepared to use iWeb to produce a site in the first place won't exactly be tech savvy as the whole point of the software was its ability to cobble together a few simple pages with no technical knowledge at all.

Although the site's core HTML will be transferable to third-party hosts, blog and photo comments, website passwords, blog searches, and hit counters will be disabled in the move.

Full instructions on how to migrate iWeb-constructed sites to non-Apple servers are available here.

Where did my pictures go?
Although the vast majority of Apple fans will have copies of the snaps they have uploaded to MobileMe galleries in either iPhoto or Aperture, some users may need to retrieve pics from the soon-to-be-deceased service and Apple has provided full instruction on how to do so using the aforementioned photo apps.

Galleries can also be retrieved direct from the web as long as your MobileMe account is still active.

And where are all my files?
'The Cloud' might be this year's most annoying buzzword but Apple has been allowing Mac users to store all of their stuff on its servers for years. Unfortunately, iDisk is also getting the axe when iCloud floats into view and, once again, the onus is on MobileMe users to make sure all of their important files have been backed up before Apple pulls the plug.

Because iDisk replicates the way files and folders work on both Mac and PC, it's a simple matter of dragging the stuff you want to keep from the MobileMe window to a suitable location of your host computer, but it's still a pain.

Do more for free with iCloud
Although it's a wonderful thing that Apple is opening up its iCloud service to all and sundry, those of us who have been paying for MobileMe for years, and have no doubt supported the development of iCloud - both financially with our annual subs and technically with user feedback - should feel justifiably aggrieved at having at least part of the rug pulled from beneath our feet.

Apple seems to think that actually being allowed to keep the email addresses you have paid for for years, and a few additional services like iTunes in the Cloud, Photo Stream, Documents in the Cloud, synced app and book histories and restore services are suitable compensation for years of being mocked by PC users for paying for MobileMe.

It's that age-old battle between the benefits of progress and the pain of change, but we can't help thinking that Apple could have rewarded the Mac faithful who have stuck by MobileMe beyond extending their subscriptions for a few months.

Apart from losing three major packages in the move, syncing of Mac Dashboard widgets, keychains, Dock items, and System Preferences will also bite the dust.

So how about it Steve? Any chance of a refund for the last year as well? It's not as if you can't afford it.