You know how we are here at Apple World Today -- every chance we get, we love to remind our readers to back up their Apple devices. But some folks won't do it because they're concerned about security or just don't want to spend money on iCloud storage. Meem ($69.99) is a unique and brilliant idea; a Lightning charge cable that backs up your iPhone or iPad whenever you plug it in.
Hands-down, Meem is one of the best-designed accessories I've had the pleasure to review this year. It's really a two-part product, with a cleverly-designed iOS app that handles the backup of "Meemable data" each time you plug in to charge, and an elegant intelligent Lightning cable with its own ARM processor and 32GB of RAM.
The Meem cable is bright green; there's no way you'll mistake it for one of your other Lightning cable. One end has a standard USB connector for plugging into your favorite charging block, whether that plugs into the wall or your car. The other end has a small black and gray "bump" emblazoned with the Meem logo, with a flexible tip that goes into the Lightning port on your iPhone or iPad.
The Meem Mirror app, available for free on the App Store, is simultaneously clever, easy to use, and intuitively simple to understand although there is a full "how to" function built in. Basically, on the left hand side of the screen you see a representation ("avatar") of your device. On the right, a mirror-image representation of your device -- which is the backup.
Need to restore a "trashed" device with a backup you made? Install the app, attach the Meem cable, and drag the mirror image onto the avatar. That's it. Along the way, you get a visual representation of how much memory is available in the Meem from how much of the gray logo-patterned background is filled up with green logos.
Not all of your device is backed up; the operating system and music on most devices are already backed up to the cloud or another device (perhaps a Mac), so Meem looks for Contacts, Calendar, Photos, and Video. It refers to those as "Meemable data", and that's what gets backed up.
Most apps that are used to do backups to flash memory drives have the worst user interfaces I've seen. That is certainly NOT the case with the Meem app, which obviously had a lot of thought put into it. Oh, and by the way...Meem works just fine with iOS 10.
I love how Meem does exactly what it says it's going to do. Any time you plug in the cable, a backup of the "Meemable data" is done. In the app, tapping the background shows a 16-screen tip sheet. Tap the center line between the avatar and the Meem, and you can see precisely how much memory is being used on the device.
Want to know how long your backup is going to take? Swiping down above the Meem provides an estimate of the time remaining. Want to stop the operation? Just tap and hold the background of the Meem. Don't want to back up a certain category (for example, maybe you don't change your videos often, so why back them up each time)? Tap on the name in the "Superlist" of categories to gray it out and disable backups.
When you plug in the device and open the app, it counts down to the start of the backup. To cancel the backup, you just tap on the app background during the countdown. A new backup can be forced by dragging the avatar to the Meem side of the app, and as noted in the Design section, restoring is as simple as dragging the Meem to the avatar. To see how much RAM is remaining in the Meem, just swipe to the right. For settings, swipe to the left. Deleting a backup is an easy tap-and-hold gesture.
Normally I'm not one for completely gesture-driven user interfaces, but I found myself able to intuitively remember the commands after just one use. If that's not brilliant UI design, I don't know what is. All of the functions are accompanied with sound effects that can be turned off; I actually found them to be fun to listen to and a good indicator of what was going on at any point.
I know that not a lot of people read user guides or manuals, but I have to say that whoever put together the one for Meem really knew what they were doing. This should be a model for anyone who is charged with writing user manuals!
You can use one Meem cable to automatically back up more than one device, as long as they're all running the app. This is perfect for those situations where you might be away from Wi-Fi just long enough that iCloud backups aren't going to help you...which are usually the same situations where you're taking a lot of photos and videos!
Meem is a brilliant product, and not only worthy of an Apple World Today 5-star rating, but of becoming a Top Pick for 2016. Anyone who wants full control of their own data while doing iOS device backups needs to buy a Meem now.