It’s been almost a year since I added the last device to my personal tech stack, an M1 Max MacBook Pro that replaced a System76 Oryx Pro. It’s no secret that I have a love-hate relationship with tech in general so, given that, I thought it a good time to check in and review how being back in Apple has been going for me.
This post isn’t intended to be a full use of all the tech I’m using. If you want a specific list of all of it, check out my “uses” page. Instead, this post is a check-in on my overall feeling with tech and how it works for me in general.
I’ve switched tech ecosystems a lot over the last few years. Since 2017 I’ve gone from all Apple to almost all Google (across a range of hardware) to all open-source and, finally, back to Apple. Needless to say I’m far more critical of my tech than I should be. I still strive for a more ethical approach to tech but the truth is that really isn’t possible for me. Instead I’m pretty invested in the Apple ecosystem today and I’m generally OK with it.
The good about Apple
For the most part I’m pretty happy with the Apple tech I have today. Not only does it work for me but it works for my whole family, who’s tech I support and, generally, it works well for everyone. I’m not fielding regular tech support calls, troubleshooting devices or software or trying to figure out how to get some piece of data to someone anymore and I do it all without losing most of any given Saturday to maintenance and tweaking of my tools in general.
As for the software itself, most of my personal data is in Apple services and all of my work data is in our corporate Google Workspace account. The setup simply works for me and I’ve actually been pretty happy with how well some of it works together such as Google Workspace in Safari.
From our calendars to Apple Music and most of the other services on our Apple family plan I can also say I’m pretty impressed. No tech is perfect but, for the price, this is working pretty well for us. So much so that we even moved our email domains into iCloud last fall when the service became available as part of our Apple family account. This was a change I originally intended only for my parents for whom it was easier to use but I quickly found the service easy and reliable enough that I’ve moved my own email to it as well.
If all my hardware wasn’t Apple this probably wouldn’t work as well as I would like but, at least for now, I’m pretty happy with it. My Apple Watch handles my fitness goals well, my iPhone helps me find what I need while I’m out, this laptop works well enough that I can focus on my site instead of maintaining my tech and my iPad makes a perfect device that can handle nearly anything I want when I’m not writing code.
For the first time in over a decade I’ve spent this past year working on this site instead of working on my tools to make this site. It’s a subtle difference but an important one. Apple might not be perfect but this is the first time I feel like I’ve been able to do this and for that I’m grateful.
The bad about Apple
As I’ve said already, no tech is perfect and Apple is no exception. For the most part all my devices work but there are little glitches, if you will, in everything. For example, if I Airplay from the Apple Music app to my Sonos speakers the app skips around like crazy. I have to have a tiny app to simply reset my display settings (I use an external monitor on the left of my laptop set to a lower than native resolution) as MacOS resets everything to the default every time it goes to sleep and I’ve given up trying to share Apple Fitness with my wife as the app just can’t seem to share between the two of us.
In the big scheme of things, these are petty annoyances, but annoyances all the same. In reality they’re no worse that any other tech stack I’ve used (and in many ways so much better) but they do tend to leave me wondering “what if” every time someone shares a new app or a fancy new Linux laptop.
In addition to the annoyances, I do miss the UX of my Android and Linux setups, particularly when I had all of my data in the Google ecosystem. I still believe that both were light-years ahead of their Apple counterparts in utility and usability but the other costs of that utility and usability still make Apple a better choice for me.
I still worry about the privacy aspects of Apple, but no more so than Google, Microsoft or even most of the services I was using with Linux. The simple truth here is that the only way I could ever get around this issue is by self-hosting everything. I’ve tried it. While it worked great for me personally it caused way too many issues for the rest of my family so, here I am. I like to think Apple is the “least evil” of the the companies out there but that’s just wishful thinking and not based in reality.
What I would change
So, given the good and the bad, what would I change if I could? The answer is, as long as tech is in its present state overall, not much. My setup works for me and my family and that really is what matters most.
In a fictional world where there was a way to participate in society without the use of toxic tech I would gladly go back to FOSS and other solutions where they would work for my family but I don’t see that happening any time soon.
Today, instead of worrying about the “least toxic” tool I can find, a problem that has been nearly paralyzing for me for the last decade, it is time to use my tools to simply build non-toxic projects of my own. In that goal what I have today is just fine.