When Apple released the first GM seed of iOS 4.2 to developers, we noticed that they implemented the possibility to create a free Apple ID inside the MobileMe settings page and even sign in to MobileMe using an Apple ID. The functionality wasn’t working back then and it still returns an error today, and we speculated Apple might be taking the necessary measures to open up MobileMe’s services to a wider audience already using an Apple ID. As noted by MacRumors last night, though, it looks like that was the first move to make MobileMe free to some iOS users, or at least some specific sections of MobileMe.
MacRumors is referring to a private framework called AppleAccounts.framework spotted in the latest iOS 4.2 GM seeds that wasn’t included in previous versions of iOS. The framework contains a series of error messages about the maximum number of free MobileMe created on a certain device. iPhones, iPods and iPads are mentioned in the error messages, which have also been translated to several different languages.
Another error message refers to MobileMe being unavailable for Apple IDs:
This Apple ID cannot be used for MobileMe Mail, but you can use it for other MobileMe services.
The fact that Apple is working on making at least some features of MobileMe free is interesting: one of the biggest advantages of Android over iOS is Google’s built-in sync of contacts, notes, mail, calendar and bookmarks. iOS users can achieve a similar setup with the current MobileMe offer, but they have to pay for it. Making MobileMe would be a wise move for Apple, especially considering the Apple ID integration – which is the account millions of users access every day to download apps from the App Store. Two weeks ago TiPB also noticed Me.com wasn’t listing Find My iPhone as a paid service.
A free MobileMe would simply lead to a better iOS out of the box, and would also suggest that Apple is working on more “premium” features for a paid plan.