For the next two weeks, I’m “going Google.” I’ll be fully dependent upon Google’s platforms, hardware, and approved methods. I’ll be working off of a Chromebook, Chromebox, and Android phone, and using Google’s Web apps. Changing my operating system so drastically may seem crazy, but there are honest, practical motivations behind it.
I’ve found that there’s a trend growing in product and platform reviews, where writers say things like, “I’ve been playing around with the app all morning”, or “I’m writing this right now on a Chromebook”, or “I’ve been testing this phone for the last couple of days” as if any of these bears credibility to the review. But the only way to truly understand if a platform works, or if hardware is really good enough, is to use them on a daily basis like a normal user would.
The other motivation behind this experiment is that every month or so, an argument flares up around the viability of Web applications. Are they ever going to replace native apps? Are they all buggy? The parties are split, and as I’m no developer (along with most other writers), I don’t really have the credibility to weigh in on that debate at all. So instead, I’m going to do it from the users’ perspective. (But, like, more so.)
To be honest, I’m a bit scared about this. Of course, it’s just a change in my daily app routine, but I’m pretty set in my ways. I spend most of a given day on my computer, typing away, searching the Web, filling out the PandoTicker, Skyping with people… All of these things happen in apps on my MacBook Air or iPhone. Apps like Twitter for Mac, NetNewsWire, Skype, Sparrow, Fantastical, and Gabble keep me going.
So yeah, needless to say: I’m a native app user through and through.
If you’ll notice, some of the above-stated apps in my usual roster have Web equivalents, while others don’t. With the exception of Twitter, none have an actual Web version available by the same developers. I’ll be scrounging for replacements (feel free to make recommendations in the comments), and trying to figure out how to make things work.
Some of the apps that I’m replacing include: iTunes with Google Play; apps from Google Play; Google Voice, Google Talk and Google Plus instead of Skype; and Google Docs instead of iA Writer. For other roadblocks I hit in my daily routine, I’ll find another application or just give up. It’ll be rough, there’s no doubt about it. But the goal is to find out if going Google is a viable option, so filling all of the holes in my routine will just be a part of the challenge.
As a bonus for Google, I’ll actually be using Google Plus, so follow me there (circle me, whatever). Which should be interesting, because I (and most people) have not really tried it out at length. So they may actually get another user out of this. (15 users! Milestone!)
So this all means that my iPhone will be sitting unused for these two weeks, that my MacBook Air is going to be a pretty desk ornament for a while. What? Willingly deprive myself of Apple products?! Crazy, I know. But all in the line of duty.
During this time, I’ll be documenting my experience. Is it great to have everything synced 100 percent of the time? Are the tradeoffs too steep? Is going Google even practical for anyone? I’ve been using the Chromebook and Chromebox combination fulltime for the past two days, and already I’ve run into some things that are great and some things that…aren’t so great. More on that later.
Expect posts of me ranting on how I want Spotify and iTunes back, and how much I love the Web app of Gmail, and how being truly, fully mobile is an amazing experience. Or the opposite of that. I’m not sure yet.
The one thing I am sure of is that this is going to be a tumultuous month.
[Photo by Stuck in Customs]