Apple’s online suite, while expensive, does look pretty. But can you get most of the job it does for free? You bet. Here are some free alternatives to MobileMe applications.
Oh, and excuse my l33t Photoshop skills.
Mail, Contacts and Calendars = Google
Compatibility: Web, iOS, Mac, Windows, Mobile Web Android, Linux, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Symbian S60.
Google’s suite of applications is awesome. But Google doesn’t stop there! With Google Sync you can sync all three products, Mail, Contacts and Calendars, on your iPhone, Mac or PC with official Exchange support. Push is supported and all of your information is automatically sent to your device. If you get a new email, it will show up almost instantly, as well as calendar and contact updates. So if you update your contacts or calendars online the changes will show up on your iPhone.
Compatibility: Web, iOS, Mac, Windows, Mobile Web Android, Linux.
Just make an account and you get 2GB of storage space, which can be used for anything, for free!
Then download the app to your Mac, PC or iPhone. On Mac, PC or Linux you will then get a folder called either My Dropbox or Dropbox. When you put anything in this folder it will be synced between all computers with the Dropbox application and accessible online at www.dropbox.com. Also the mobile applications, available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android allow you to save certain files for offline access and view files, like photos, some videos and songs. And apart from the amount of space you get, Dropbox is, in many ways, better than iDisk too.
You can get more space by paying a subscription fee or just referring friends.
Flickr – Compatibility: Web, iPhone, Mac, PC, Mobile Web.
Picasa – Compatibility: Web, Mac, Windows, Mobile Web.
Now, I personally don’t really photoshare, but I do love Flickr’s simplistic design. It’s not as pretty as MobileMe but if you’re photosharing, it doesn’t really need to have good looks as long as it gets the job done.
You get 100MB of monthly uploads space and every month your limit resets, meaning you get basically unlimited storage. I would prefer more each month, especially if you’ve just come back from a holiday and want to upload all of your photos, but for free it’s great.
If you need more storage there is also Google Picasa, which I don’t think is as user friendly as Flickr, but comes with 1GB of storage, free software for Mac, PC and Linux and is a Google product, meaning that you can use the same login as Gmail, Contacts and Calendars. But remember, that 1GB won’t increase unless you pay more or Google increases it, unlike Flickr.
The one thing you can’t get for free is Find My iPhone. There is no real alternative to this, seeing as you cannot make an app like it from Apple’s SDK. There may be an alternative for Jailbroken devices, but we wouldn’t call that user friendly.
[UPDATE] iPhone 4, iPad and iPod touch 4 users can now get Find My iPhone for free!
Overall, I think that it is highly possible to stop paying $110 a year and get the job done right, as long as you look after your device.