Could I be free from the Apple ecosystem?
Apple’s ecosystem is great and I’ve happily been a part of it for years now.
In fact, for many of those years, I wasn’t truly aware of it being built around me. It was the slowly, slowly approach from Apple that was crafty – not in a contriving or manipulative way, but rather an innocent brick-by-brick approach.
Looking back I guess it all started with my first iPhone. It got me wondering what it would be like to have a Mac and have all my photos available all the time on both devices. I’d just started to become aware of iCloud and Apple’s other cloud services.
Not being a big Word or Excel user I was taken with Pages and Numbers – so much in fact that I took classes! Yup, I actually paid good money to learn how to use a Mac and its productive apps. Every Sunday for about 6 months I’d trot off to my local Apple Store and sit there with my designated blue t-shirt-clad genius.
Funny sidebar is that it was only a year or so later the store boss told me I intimidated them – I came in clutching notes as if I were revising for an exam – I had this carnivorous appetite and I wanted answers. I know, I know, I shudder too, but it was an important part of the patchwork of Apple’s ecosystem being built around me.
Music to my ears
This whole cloud thing was fascinating to me.
I could buy an album from iTunes on my MacBook Air and by the time I picked up my iPhone, it was there! It meant I could listen to music in the car or out running with no input from me.
And the more devices I bought, the more far-reaching what I now understand to be the ecosystem was becoming. As I added Macs to my lineup, the benefits were obvious. An iPod here and an iPad there – they were always in sync and whatever I was looking for was always to hand. Notes, Reminders, calendars, I just loved being part of the Apple gang.
Feeling at home
Gradually the Apple love affair crept into my home. First an Apple TV, then a HomePod mini and next a HomePod. Siri, for all its faults, was all around me.
And all the while the iPhone was becoming an ever-increasing hub to my tech-led existence. My car now not only has Apple CarPlay as its infotainment system, but I have keyless entry all thanks to – yup, my iPhone.
At home, I have the benefit of Handoff from iPhone to HomePods and the iPhone doubles up as a remote for Apple TV.
Then of course there is the benefit of AirPods. Possibly the best earbuds out there and they pair easily (sometimes too easily) with your Apple gear and yup, they also they work with Apple TV. Just one device suddenly has so many uses.
Since the pandemic, we have all spent more time making video calls and Apple, making sure not to be caught napping developed loads of sharing features for FaceTime calls. You can share in real-time with friends and family tunes or even movies.
And if you have an older Mac with a poor, outdated webcam, fear not, Apple has your back…Continuity Camera will let you use your iPhone as a webcam. Save money on buying a camera and use what you already have in your pocket.
The small details
It’s often the tiny details, the ones that you almost take for granted which end up being the ones that matter most.
Open a Safari tab on your iPhone and it will be ready to launch on your Mac. The Universal Clipboard continues to amaze me, as does Universal Control. Watching one mouse skim between all devices is such a productive powerhouse. With it, you can physically move files from desktop to desktop.
Then the daddy of them all – AirDrop! The sheer simplicity with which you can shift files from Mac to iPhone or iPhone to Mac just makes my day easier – end of!
And I guess there you have it – the walled garden has been built and I am so deeply in it could I ever escape?
Life on the outside
Recently I have started to dabble with the dark side – Android and I’ve been having the time of my life.
I don’t think I am being a dirty, slimy turncoat and walking away from Apple, but I now can better understand what all the fuss has been about with Android. It feels like you can make it yours and personalise it to suit your moods and your tastes.
It has been a steep learning curve though. The last non-Apple phone I used was a Blackberry so fumbling my way around has been, at times, a painful experience – but fun at the same time.
One of the features I have not mentioned that I love in my little Apple garden is iCloud. It is so simple to use – it looks like and reminds me of Dropbox that I have used for almost as long as I’ve used Macs! It’s just drag-and-drop and it’s idiot-proof and has never let me down. I view it as my Dropbox back up and again, it’s there across all my devices.
Google Drive I don’t find as easy to use – no muscle memory I guess but I’ve had to get to grips with it. Not only do all my Android devices back up to it, but I have noticed that loads of creators use it as their default drive. I can’t recall one occasion that someone has shared a Dropbox or iCloud link with me – am I the only one that still uses these two services?
So I’ve forced myself to use Google Drive and its suite of apps. Playing with them gets you in the groove – but I am still not a fan. And being used to terabytes of storage on my twos favs only having 15GB on Google has forced me to better manage my files in Android land.
Using Android has made me wonder if I could make the switch if I wanted to.
I’m toying with the idea of buying a Pixel tablet to review and use as a home-hub device. If I did and liked what I found, would that be the start of me breaking free from the ecosystem? Would or could a Pixel Pro and the Pixel tablet lead me to a new life of Android and Google Drive?
Using Android has forced me to find solutions and one by one they are coming. Snapdrop whilst not being as fluid as AirDrop whilst works and Clipt acts as a Universal Clipboard substitute.
As for AirPods, Continuity Camera, Handoff and the Apple TV remote control – the quest for answers continues, but I’m certain answers will be out there.
Apart from quite enjoying the Android OS and just being something new to play with, at the back of my mind is that we are also potentially heading ever closer to the £2000 iPhone era and that is frightening! If I needed a wake-up call that will do it!
There is rumoured to be a £200 price hike coming our way on the base model Pro Max iPhone this year and there is also a rumour of 2TB of storage being an option on the phone too.
Putting to one side the question of what on earth you’d need 2TB of storage for in the first place, if the base model with 256GB is going to cost £1299 can you honestly tell me I’m pulling a fast one to think that a 2TB iPhone Max from Apple could cost the best part of £2000?
I wonder if it’s time to look to break free…
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