Google

Google Software & Apple Hardware: Week 2

I just wrapped up my second week of going all-in on my Google software/Apple hardware experiment and I have some more thoughts (observations from my first week are here):

  1. Google News is an ugly app and I don’t really have a place for it in my tech life. I just don’t consume news that way (or really at all).

  2. I really like Google Keep on iOS. I don’t like it on OS X, though. The way I like to use apps like this requires it to be simply a keystroke away (capturing quick thoughts) and the fact that it lives in my browser adds friction to me getting to it quickly.

  3. Oh, but there is one thing about Google Keep that’s mad annoying — the fact that if you want checkboxes in a note then every line in the note has a checkbox. You can’t mix normal text and checkboxes. I have some templates that have headings and text that I don’t want checkboxes next to but that isn’t something I can do in Google Keep, apparently.

  4. Having two Google identities (my personal and my work) is getting tiresome. I keep realizing I’m signed into the wrong one. Granted, it’s pretty simple and easy to fix but if the whole point is to be funneling a ton of data into one account (the personal) every time I realize I haven’t been signed into it I feel like I’m wasting my time.

  5. Google Maps still seems better than Apple Maps in most ways — except (obviously) Apple Watch support. There’s no Glance for it and it seems like I basically have to keep relaunching the app to give me up to date walking directions? This isn’t a huge deal though since the iOS app is so good.

  6. There are some rough edges around a few of the iOS apps. At one point I wanted to split screen Google Hangouts and Chrome on my iPad Air 2. No dice.

  7. At first I was annoyed that using Google Photos seemed to imply that I’d have to duplicate my photo pruning efforts across it and my Apple Photos library. However, it looks like if I do the editing in Google Photos first (like deleting a photo) it will do the same thing to the camera roll on my phone, thus keeping my Apple Photos library synced. At least, I think.

  8. Bumping into some annoyances with having two Google accounts in terms of the Google Drive client on OS X. It seems like you can’t have multiple Google Drive folders on one computer meaning that I have my work account Google Drive accessible through the Finder but not my personal account. I actually use both a lot so it’d be nice to be able to flip back and forth between them without having to open the browser.

  9. I was flying last week and couldn’t get Chrome on my laptop to connect to the Gogo landing page to connect to the wi-fi. Safari didn’t have a problem with it.

  10. Google Play Music has been pretty great so far. No real complaints to speak of.

  11. I finished a book in the Google Play Books app on iOS and didn’t really have any complaints with it. It was a little bit slower than iBooks or the Kindle app but if I could only read books through this app from now on I wouldn’t be devastated. Although, the recommendations at the end of the book were pretty bad (“Oh, you read a biography of Steve Jobs? You should read the same biography but in Spanish!”)

  12. Here’s what my iPhone home screen looks like now (here’s what it looked like when I started this experiment). I’ve moved some of the less used Google apps into a folder (but they are still on the home screen):

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Home screen as of 4/9/2016

I also realized that this whole project of trying out different hardware/software combos kind of flies in the face of two of my second quarter priority statements (“consistency even over spontaneity” and “closing loops even over indulging curiosity”). I’m trying to figure out how to reconcile this conundrum and as of right now I think my answer is to actually stick with this Google/Apple setup for the next three months (which is when I will revisit my priority statements and create new ones). I originally envisioned this project as changing my setup every month or so but I think I might be able to have better insights and a better sense of what does and doesn’t work with a particular setup if I stick with it for longer.

As always, if you are a Google master and I’m obviously thinking about something incorrectly or doing it wrong please leave a comment and set me on the right path!

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.