One of the best parts of role-playing video games is equipping your character with the best armor, weapons, accessories, and other fun paraphernalia. In these types of games you tend to spend a decent amount of time searching for, tinkering with, and thinking about optimal equipment combinations for specific situations. Sometimes you simply equip the most powerful item in each category, sometimes you equip a combination of items that work together in a specific way, and sometimes you let aesthetic considerations determine what your character uses (we’ve all stumbled across that one sword that doesn’t have the greatest stats but it just looks so damn cool so we keep it around much longer than we probably should).
Sometimes I feel like deciding what combination of hardware, software, and online services to use to run my personal and professional is the real-life (and arguably nerdier) version of deciding how to equip a character in a video game.
Should I go with the all Apple software on all Apple hardware set? Or maybe the Google online services on Apple hardware set? Or a hodgepodge of various apps and services that are all considered best in their class even if they don’t interact with each other that well? The combinations are endless and over the next couple months I’m going to try out a handful of them to see what works best for me.
Apple Hardware, Google Everywhere Else
Many people would agree that Apple seems to be the king of making high quality hardware and Google is the master of online services that communicate well (or creepily, depending on your stance) with each other. For my first experiment I’m going to stick as much Google software and use as many Google services across my Apple devices (MacBook, iPad Air 2, iPhone 6s Plus, and Apple Watch) as possible. In some areas this isn’t much of a shift for how I was already doing things (email backend, calendar backend, work document creation/storage, etc.) but in others it’s a complete change (entertainment like movies, TV and books, maps, photos, etc).
Here are the basic rules, which I will reserve the right to change completely at my whim:
I will attempt to use every Google service or app that is reasonably related to how I already live my tech life (for example, I’m not going to dive into Google Analytics or other obscure stuff).
I will investigate Google-centric options for everything I do in my tech life and will try to adopt them for the next couple weeks.
I will do free trials or pay for a month of services that require it (eg Google Play Music so I can get the full experience).
I will continue to use services and apps that don’t have a Google replacement (e.g. Overcast, Day One, Instapaper).
I will take note of what surprises/delights/frustrates/confuses me over the next few weeks and give periodic updates here. Please leave feedback if I’m blatantly doing something wrong and there is a solution to something I’m bitching about!
My basic hypothesis with this experiment is that if I feed as much information as possible into Google it should do useful things. I’ve come to peace with the creepy factor (at least for the next couple months) so I’m interested to see what happens when I dive feet first into giving Google exactly what it wants from me. I do realize that using mobile hardware that would let me use Android or moving to a Chromebook would probably be even better, but I’m not buying all new hardware for this experiment.
I suspect to be annoyed by several aspects of this experiment (at least at first). I generally use Google Drive and the associated apps only for work stuff but I’m going to try to move everything I can over and that will be a bit of a pain. I can’t imagine consuming my media through the Google Play store is something that will stick around for the long term, either. I had been loving Apple Notes across all my devices so I’m a little skeptical about Google Keep.
To extend the armor/weapon metaphor a bit, I’m excited about my new setup but it feels a little bit strange. It’s chafing a bit in some places but I assume I’ll build up some calluses or break it in over time.
So there it is. The intrepid adventurer has donned his Apple/Google gear and is ready to slay some monsters/respond to some email. Let’s go adventuring.
For those who are interested in the nitty gritty detail here is a full roster of the hardware/software/services I’m using (let me know if I’m missing anything I should be trying out):
iPhone 6S Plus, 128 GB
iPad Air 2, 128 GB + LTE
Apple Watch Sport
Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides