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Ask TUAW: Replacement Batteries, Keychain Sync, AppleIDs, and More! (Updated)


Welcome to Ask TUAW, our weekly (mostly) question-and-answer column. We're nearing the release of iOS 5, iCloud, iTunes Match and the next version of the iPhone.

We get to as many questions as we can, so head down to the comments and tell us what Apple/Mac/iOS questions keep you up at night. If you'd prefer, instead of asking questions in the comments, you can email your questions directly to, or simply ping us on Twitter.

For our first question, Ryan asks:

I have a quick question, about moving from MobileMe to iCloud. I heard Apple will not support Keychain syncing via iCloud to multiple Macs. I know i can use 1Password, or Dropbox or rsync (yikes), but I loveeee things as is. Do you know if this is true, and if, so, if there is a seamless work around? I have been putting off transitioning to iCloud just for this exact reason.

With iCloud, Apple is killing off the Keychain portion of MobileMe sync, along with iDisk and MobileMe webpages. Now, portions of MobileMe will continue to be available for existing MobileMe users through June 30, 2012 -- but not sync. Here's the relevant portion of Apple's FAQ on the MobileMe-to-iCloud transition:

What happens to the other sync services I use for my Mac?
Syncing of Mac Dashboard widgets, keychains, Dock items, and System Preferences will not be part of iCloud, but will continue to be available for you to use until you move to iCloud. After you move to iCloud or after June 30, 2012, whichever comes first, those sync services will no longer be available. Other MobileMe services that are not transitioning to iCloud (iWeb publishing, Gallery, and iDisk) will continue to be available through June 30, 2012, even after you move to iCloud.

Once you "upgrade" your MobileMe account to iCloud, you will completely lose to your keychain sync. There is no seamless workaround, though 1Password + Dropbox is an excellent, if slightly less user-friendly, alternative.

It has been reported that Apple is "open" to returning those features if there is enough feedback on the subject. If you feel strongly about retaining Keychain Sync, drop Tim Cook an email. His address is

Update: Apple PR has contacted TUAW and let us know that bookmarks will be supported in iCloud. This article has been updated with the erroneous information removed.

Bayuze writes:

I am having a problem with my MacBook Pro Mid-2009 13" battery. I just noticed the "service battery" on the drop down menu below the battery icon. Looking at the details it says I have been through 911 cycles. I have AppleCare due to expire next year and thought they would replace it for me but on reading the fine print, it says only defective batteries will be replaced and mine seems to be a case of just normal wear and tear (I think). Just in case AppleCare can't replace it and I have to do this myself what is/are the best places to get a good replacement battery? I think iFixit has a good guide on the replacement. Any other tips would be welcome!

You can replace the battery yourself fairly easily, but it will void your AppleCare warranty if you do. And honestly, the price of the battery itself is only about $10 to $20 cheaper than bringing your Mac into an Apple Store and having them replace it for you.

That having been said, I wouldn't take AppleCare at their word that your battery is experiencing "normal wear and tear". According to Apple's own specs, your battery is supposed to retain around 80 percent of its factory-fresh capacity after 1000 full charge-discharge cycles. If you're getting a "service battery" warning after 911 cycles, it means there's something physically wrong with your battery when there shouldn't be.

Chris Rawson here at TUAW had to do this dance with AppleCare last year over his battery, and I documented how I got it replaced for free -- try pushing your case with AppleCare (nicely), and you may get better results than you expected.

Also, your typical Genius Bar employee can replace the battery, even if you are outside the 1-year "lifespan" of the battery -- especially if the battery is reporting an internal failure, as yours is.

Gregg wonders:

Since the iPhone hit the market, countless numbers of people have been asking for an app that would block a phone number. You would have to think that if that many people where searching for an app to perform a task on their iPhones there would a massive amount of money to be made by a developer and by Apple itself. And yet after all this time, there's nothing in the app store.

Is there something that's is going unspoken to the public, something perhaps like an agreement with phone service providers and Apple? Is it possible that an app like this would be to difficult to create? I find it suspiciously puzzling?

An external app to block a phone number will never exist, at least not for an unjailbroken iPhone. Phone calls are handled directly by the phone app on the iPhone, and cannot be intercepted or highjacked by an app, even with such noble intentions as blocking unwanted callers.

However, if you are an AT&T customer, you can purchase AT&T Smart Limits for $4.99/month, a parental controls feature that allows users to block up to 30 numbers from making incoming or outgoing calls or sending or receiving text messages.

Verizon Wireless customers can block up to five numbers, by following the instructions on this page for activating Verizon's Spam Controls. Google Voice users can also redirect or block numbers as well.

If you are receiving harassing or disturbing phone calls, we encourage you to get in touch with your local law enforcement officials and file a complaint.

Adam writes:

With every photo you take & file you update on your phone syncing to all devices via the iCloud, will this mean you'll be often going over your network data allowance without realising?

Very doubtful. Apple has been very good about separating Wi-Fi usage from 3G usage. The iCloud backup function only activates when the iPhone is plugged in, locked, and connected to Wi-Fi. Photo Stream also only uploads and downloads iCloud photos when connected to Wi-Fi.

Roger wonders:

My wife and I both have Macbooks upgraded to Lion using a common AppleID. Will we be able to keep our emails, address books, calendars and files from cross populating on each others Macs once iCloud goes live?

We both really like our own space, but would like to share the Lion update.

If you are sharing an AppleID in iCloud, your address books and calendars will be cross-pollinated -- if you enable iCloud syncing of those items. Your email and files shouldn't be affected. One option is to create separate calendars and address book groups for you and your wife. This would allow you to use the one AppleID and (sort of) keep your data separate.

On the other hand, if you -- or your wife -- use a separate AppleID for iCloud across your MacBook, iPad and iPhone, you will be able to keep all your information separate, but your purchases will be separate too.

Apple has designed iCloud so that each person has their own AppleID, for both purchases and personal information like addresses and calendars. Things tend to go a little awry when users try to share them.

I'd wait until iCloud comes out and check out the details -- we don't quite know how everything is going to work yet.

Anyway, thanks for the questions everyone, and we need yours too! So, ask away in the comments, or shoot us an email at Also, if you have anything to add to our answers, we love feedback and fresh ideas.

Seriously, we want questions! Now, have a great week!

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