I’ve written about it before but I still say that, for all its faults, the best computing stack I ever had was when most of our data was in Google. Others have come close but that was, by far, the most convenient combination of features and access.
I realize most people don’t mind using multiple devices. Folks will write an email on the work laptop while pressing play on the music on their phone, or email on one machine while messaging on another and none of it bothers them.
That’s driven me crazy since I started carrying multiple devices almost 20 years ago.
If I’m at my desk I want to start my music, send my email and access all my messaging from my laptop. When I get up from my desk I want my phone to be able to pick up right where I left off. If I sit in my chair at night I want to do all of that from my tablet. In the end a device, to me, is the tool I need to access my data in whatever context I need it. There should be no difference between the data on my laptop, my phone, my tablet or any other device I need to access it from.
Apple comes close to this as long as I stick with my personal Apple ID and all Apple devices. As I type this on my Linux machine, however, pretty much all my data is unavailable to me and on my work machine I’m even more limited, even though my job requires me to balance 15 years of WordPress projects, both personal and professional, with the work I’m doing for my current company.
Simply put, not having my data where I need it and when I need it has significantly slowed me down both personally and professionally and, in 2024, it shouldn’t still be a problem.
When I had all this same data in Google I could access it from anywhere as long as I had access to a browser. From my phone calls to text messages (thanks to Google Fi) and from emails to documents, photos, music and everything else my Google data didn’t care who I purchased my device from. It was “just there.” With Apple it might be there but it’s availability always seems to include an asterisk and it really gets frustrating.
Of course, even Apple is still better than when I went all FOSS. That was, frankly, a mess. From Signal to Nextcloud and from K-9 Mail to Spotify (which I know isn’t FOSS but was part of this setup by necessity) it was all just so delicate, so much so that it failed miserably in sharing my data with my family and friends.
I don’t know what the answer to all this is. Ideally I want a company that can put all our data together, safely, with the availability of Google, the hardware quality of Apple and the privacy of FOSS and smaller services, basically an impossible ask in our modern world.
For now I’ll keep using Apple for most of my work, with this Linux machine for blogging and code, and hope for a day when I don’t need 3 laptops on my desk and can access all of my data from where I need it without arbitrary limitations imposed by others.