As MobileMe closes, Google rescues new iOS users

With all the fanfare for the move from MobileMe to iCloud, new iOS (s aapl) users — or at least those new to over-the-air syncing — will find themselves without an Apple option for several months. Although Apple discontinued new signups for MobileMe on Monday, iCloud syncing won’t be available until the fall, and most likely will only be available for those running iOS 5 and Lion (current MobileMe subscribers will, of course, still be able to use the service). What’s an Apple fan to do in the meantime? Go to a competitor.
Crazy as it sounds, Google (s goog), Apple’s chief rival in the smartphone market, will be the one saving iOS users stuck in this donut hole. Moving to Google syncing requires only minor modifications to your iOS gadgets and your Mac, and you’ll be able to keep your contacts, calendars and email in step across devices. You’ll need to sync your iOS device to Google as well as sync your Mac to Google, and you should always backup the data on both before doing so. Note that doings so requires at least Leopard for Mac users.
Google has excellent instructions on how to set up your iOS device with a Google account. You’ll need to set up the Google account first of course, but most people already have that. Note that other email addresses you happen to be using on your devices that aren’t tied to your Google account won’t have their data backed up.
Setting up your Mac to sync with Google is also quite easy again due to excellent instructions, in particular on how to sync your calendars and how to sync your contacts.
While you’re at it, you might consider moving from iCal to BusyCal, as BusyCal syncs simply with Google using only your login credentials, while syncing with iCal is a multi-step process.
Google has a great opportunity to get users signed up in this window between Apple’s announcement and when its service goes live. Both Google and Apple will soon be battling for the right to store users’ data, a much different fight than that going on between operating systems. Any advantage in that coming fight could be a significant one.