I’m inside Apple’s ecosystem.
Deep, deep inside.
Every day, I take my bag to work, and alongside money and keys I stow away my iPhone, AirPods, iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and MacBook. I clip my Apple Watch to my wrist and walk out the door. Each device seamlessly linked to the other through the cloud and always-on Bluetooth.
It didn’t always used to be like this. I was a Windows user for most of my life, and never used to wear a watch. I had other companies’ phones and tablets, so what happened?
For me, the’cloud’ and the Apple Watch closed the door that could let me out of Apple’s world and made me feel like I really couldn’t leave. My Apple watch won’t work with any other phone. In fact, it NEEDS an iPhone to be fully functional. I don’t remember most of my passwords because Apple does it for me. My music is all through Apple music (it’s cheaper in Hong Kong).
I watched, with a little bit of envy, the YouTube videos of people unboxing the Samsung Galaxy s8 and other recent phones like the Xiaomi Mix, with their super-AMOLED screens and almost bezel-free faces. I wanted one. I still want one.
But… Then I thought about everything I’ve spent so much hard-earned money on. The Apple Watch, again, is the best example. I love it. I don’t know why, but it’s the only watch I’ve consistently worn after the novelty has worn off. Other watches quickly got left on the bedside table, but this one has me walking back to my apartment if I ever leave without it. But, is a watch really that important, when I could in theory buy another one from a different company?
My AirPods slot into my ears every morning and sync automatically with my iPhone, my MacBook, or my iPad depending on which one I’m using. Is that ease of use really something that will stop me getting a different brand of phone?
On the table in front of me are the contents of my bag. My keys, obviously, and then my devices, which I take to work every day. I use all of them. Whatever you think about Apple as a company or their products, in my experience everything really does work beautifully. It’s so easy just to move between them, buy an upgrade and never lose anything. It’s too easy. Or, maybe, I’m just lazy.
So, let’s say I don’t get an iPhone X. Let’s say I get one of the other equally powerful, cheaper devices, which also have beautiful screens and sleek curves. How hard will it really be? Can we leave Apple’s glossy, shiny, user-friendly prison of an ecosystem, or have I become institutionalised like an inmate at the Steve Jobs version of Shawshank?
Let’s take a look.
First, the phone. I don’t need face unlocking. In fact, I’m not that keen on the idea, so no problems missing out on that ‘feature’.
Then there’s the music. Yes, Apple Music is convenient, but so is Google Play or Spotify. They work on pretty much any device, too. What about the audio files I’ve got downloaded and already paid for? No problem there either. Just transfer the files manually using anything other than the official Android File Transfer. Really, that’s a terrible bit of software. Just use AirDroid or Handshaker instead.
What about my passwords? Am I going to have to start remembering them? Not really, there are plenty of cloud based apps and services to do that job. From what I’ve seen “1password” seems to be one of the best.
OK then, what about those AirPods? I really like them. I don’t care if they look like replacement heads for my toothbrush. They’ve replaced my Beats Studio set as my primary headphones.
No problem. They’re just bluetooth. Apple calls them magical, but in reality they’re perfectly compatible with any bluetooth phone. You can even activate and use Google Voice with them, if you’re one of those people.
Next, cloud storage. I already use Dropbox, and there are plenty of others to take the load from off of iCloud; You could pick Google Drive or Microsoft’s One Drive, to name just two.
I want to keep my iPad and MacBook because I just love the way they work, but it really wouldn’t be much of a pain to go back to a Galaxy Tab or a Windows Desktop. Microsoft Surface also looks pretty sweet these days if you want something that could replace both.
Finally, my watch. It’s a bluetooth device, so surely I can just synchronise it like any other bluetooth watch? Unfortunately not. This is one sacrifice I’m going to have to make if I want a sleek Android no-bezel beauty as my daily driver. I guess I could get a FitBit or Galaxy Gear. Or, maybe, just a normal watch. I’m not exactly an athlete making use of that heart rate monitor.
In conclusion then, it really seemed to me that I was stuck with Apple. Whenever anybody mentioned a different brand I would instantly say, “Well, I’ve got so much Apple stuff already. I’m pretty much tied in!” and move the conversation on. But now, with the price of the iPhone X at an almost out-of-reach 10,000 HKD, I’m seriously considering the alternatives, and those alternatives are very nice indeed.
What do you think I should do? Comment below, click subscribe, and let me know what you’re planning to do.
Links for the applications mentioned in the video:
Handshaker (formerly “SmartFinder”) http://mac.softpedia.com/get/Utilities/SmartFinder.shtml
Google Drive https://www.google.com/drive/
Xiaomi Mix http://www.mi.com/en/mix/specs/