Week 1 in the Google Universe: Thoughts and Observations

I’m in the midst of a personal experiment revolving around my hardware/software setup. I’m trying an approach where I use all Apple Hardware with as heavy a use of Google services and software as possible. You can read more about the project in the introductory article.

Every week or so I dump all my thoughts/questions/observations about how the project is going. Please leave comments if you have suggestions for things I can do better or have answers to the questions I’m posing.

  • I have two Google accounts. My personal one I’ve had forever and a work Google Apps account. I’ve decided to login to the vast majority of the apps and services using my personal account as opposed to my work account. My main concern is that if I used my work account as the account that logged in to everything if I ever lost access to that account all the data I had been piping into that setup would be gone and I’d have to start from scratch. Given how important that data is that seems like a bad idea.

  • I’m using the official Google apps everywhere I can which means I’m using the Gmail and Google Calendar apps. I realize I could just use Google as the backend for 3rd party apps but I’m trying to stick as closely as possible to the “only Google” rule for right now. However, there appears to be no Google Calendar app for iPad, so I’m using Fantastical with Google powering the backend.

  • I’ve turned on all notifications, which isn’t my normal approach, but I’m having visions of the Google apps pushing me all sorts of useful information eventually. We shall see…

  • I’m thinking about buying a Chromecast to try out using Google media on my TV at home.

  • I miss Byword. It’s the app I use to do most of my writing. I’m forcing myself to use Google Docs for now. The added friction between deciding to write something and being on a screen where I can start typing (as compared to Byword) is a little bit annoying.

  • I installed the Google+ app and poked around for a few minutes and I can almost 100% say for sure that this will not become a key part of my online life. Is there any way to make this not terrible?

  • There are some apps and services where network effects will prevent me from changing. I can’t ask my friends and family to only contact me on Hangouts instead of iMesssge, obviously.

  • Some of the apps really aren’t replacing anything for me because I just don't use that type of app usually (like Google News). However, I’m committing to experimenting with them to see if they can play a role in how I work.

  • I’m committing to give all of these apps as much information as possible so they can hopefully use all their connections to the fullest extent.

  • Apps I will continue using because there is no Google option — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Slack, Overcast, Instapaper, Things… (are there Google replacements for any of these?)

  • It’s annoying to not be able to buy a book from inside the Play Books app on my iPad (I know it’s an Apple thing but it’s still annoying).

  • Saving syncs and annotations from Play Books to Google Drive automatically is kind of a cool idea.

  • Play Books is much slower switching from portrait to landscape and vice versa on my iPad than iBooks or the Kindle app.

  • The Waze app was pretty great last weekend when I was driving a rental car for a few hours. Pretty cool to have the app tell you to be aware of a stopped car on the shoulder or a police car up ahead and inevitably see them shortly thereafter. If I drove more I’d probably like this app a lot more.

  • When should I be using Google News vs. Play Newsstand? They seem to duplicate a lot of basic functionality.

  • I like Google Keep and Google Play Music quite a bit so far.

  • Google Now has done two cool things so far. It prompted me to leave for the airport at a pretty great time and it reminded me that the Red Wings had a game starting soon. I didn’t explicitly tell it to do either of those things but they were both welcome notifications to receive.