THE TECH PAGE:
Is brand loyality a good thing? Alex George ponders.
PEOPLE ASK ME THIS A LOT: Should I stick with one company for all my technology with the understanding that it works better together, or can I mix and match? (The syntax varies, but the question is always the same.) It’s a good question that smart people ask – including, recently, my colleague, Lara Sorokanich, whose desk here at Popular Mechanics HQ faces mine. Lara recently leaned over to ask me about this. Turns out there are options for how to assemble your personal mix of services and devices. We recorded the conversation, presented here for you:
LARA SOROKANICH: I have a Mac laptop and an iphone, but I write in Google Docs and save all my photos to Google Photos. I like my Apple stuff, but Google markets its new hardware well. Should I go Google everything? ALEX GEORGE: Google would love that. Its dream is for you, for everyone, to buy a Pixel phone and a Chromebook laptop, and use them for Gmail, Google Photos, Chrome, Youtube, and Google Docs. And play your music on a Google Home speaker. Most of the major companies think this way, and they encourage us to do that by making it annoying to mix and match. For example, if you have an iphone connected to a car that has Apple Carplay, you can say, ‘Hey Siri, play Bruce Springsteen,’ and Apple Music will play it. Which is cool. But until recently, you couldn’t use Google Maps on the car’s display. It forced you to use Apple Maps. So glad they changed that. LS: For me, photos are really important. I use Google Photos on my iphone all the time. Am I missing out on anything that I’d get on a Google phone? AG: Not necessarily. Microsoft and Google have been making software that works really well on Apple devices, like how you use Google Photos to free up storage on your iphone. The Outlook app for IOS is a good example. We have to use Microsoft email for work, but if you have inbox rules or other customisations, those functions are complex and can sometimes trip up Apple’s Mail app. Luckily, though, the Outlook app for IOS is excellent. It syncs cleanly with our company email servers, and is every bit as good on an iphone as on a Microsoft laptop. LS: I’ve been using a $500 Asus Chromebook for a few weeks. I like how I can be writing in Google Docs, close it without saving, then get on the bus and open Docs on my iphone and pick up where I left off. AG: Exactly. Like Microsoft, Google knows how many people buy iphones and Macs. So it makes sure that Docs works with Apple devices. LS: I see you still use an iphone, too? AG: I keep coming back to the iphone and Mac laptops because Apple devices are just intuitive. And as inconvenient as a Genius Bar visit can be, no other company has that level of customer service. LS: So there’s really no advantage to unifying? AG: No. Not worth it. I love Google Assistant, and on a Pixel 2 you can squeeze the bottom of the phone and instantly call up the Assistant. On an iphone, you have to tap tap tap – but the extra taps are nothing compared to how much more convenient even an older iphone is than dealing with Android. Some day, Google may decide to make their stuff work terribly on IOS, or the next Pixel might be as great and half the price of an iphone. But until then, you have the freedom to buy the devices you want, and bring along the apps you like.