Still thrashing about looking for the perfect ecosystem

I’ve come to realize that despite my honeymoon giddiness with the Chromebook, I’m still going to be buying a MacBook Pro as soon as I can afford one (next year? WHEN APES RULE THE EARTH?). As such, my insistence on “Apple hardware, Google productivity and Amazon media” probably needn’t be that strict, especially where it doesn’t, you know, work.

For example, iTunes Radio really is my best streaming audio play. On my iOS devices, it’s cheap (at $25/yr, it was cheaper than commercial-free Pandora even before they jacked up their rates, and minuscule compared to $120/yr for Rdio or Spotify), reliable and pretty good at finding stuff I want to hear. It doesn’t work on the Chromebook, but how often do I need to listen to music on the Chromebook and I don’t have my phone or iPad nearby?

And of course, if I’m going to listen to iTunes Radio, it follows at I should organize and purchase music via iTunes as well. Again, it works just as well as Amazon Cloud Player, but has the added benefit of being able to purchase music on the go.

Similar arguments could be made for iTunes as my store for movies and TV over Amazon Instant Video. The prices are about the same, the for-sale catalogs are about the same, but it’s much less of a pain in the ass to actually buy new stuff on the devices I’m typically using. The only advantages for Amazon are that I can buy and view on my Chromebook, and view on my Roku. But the Roku is due to be replaced, and I could easily replace it with an Apple TV instead of a Roku 3. I’d lose Amazon Instant Video but gain iTunes video. As for watching video on the Chromebook, there’s always Netflix. And I would be able to watch iTunes video on the MBP.

So the big question is how committed am I to Apple hardware? I think I got the answer to that when I looked into doing a Verizon EDGE upgrade to an HTC One M8. As soon as the Verizon rep told me I’d have to give up my iPhone 5S, I almost physically pulled back. The phrase “recoiled in horror” is thrown around a lot these days, but…

So. The Chromebook is a nice and affordable stopgap until I can buy a 13″ retina MacBook Pro, and a backup or spare laptop after. I won’t be moving to Android anytime soon (and it’s worth noting that Amazon Instant Video isn’t available for Android either) and as a result, Apple makes more sense than Amazon for media.

Except.

I’m sticking with Amazon for books, Kindle and Audible. Whispersync Voice is too useful. But there are really no downsides to picking that over iBooks. I’m not missing out on any integrations other than Flipboard.

Okay, so with that exception, I’m using Apple instead of Amazon. But what about Google?

The problem here comes down to tasks. Currently, I’m using Todoist, but it feels heavy. Not as heavy as Omnifocus, but close. I have an inherent contradiction when it comes to task management. I want something that can handle the complexity of nested projects and tasks, contexts and start dates when I’m planning. But anything that can do all that is going to feel too unwieldy for capture and doing, so after I get all my stuff into it, I tend not to look at it and stuff doesn’t get done.

So I’m considering going with the simpler alternatives built into Google and iCloud. But which one? The obvious answer is Google. There are good Google tasks clients for iOS, not the least of which Pocket Informant. Google tasks seems to support nested tasks to an arbitrary level, at least on the web, and it integrates with Gmail and Google Calendar.

But.

Google Tasks doesn’t support repeating tasks, and a lot of the tasks I have are for things I have to do periodically. Now, I could argue that I don’t really need tasks cluttering up my tasklist for things like laundry, trimming my fingernails and getting a haircut. When those things need to be done, I’m going to notice without having to check my list. So maybe I can do without those and just use Google Tasks to remind me of things I need to be reminded of.

The other problem with Google Tasks is that it hasn’t been updated in years, and a lot of the functionality of it seems to be duplicated in Google Keep. Just as Hangouts seems to be about to replace Voice, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tasks is discontinued soon. This would be unfortunate, as Keep doesn’t work very well on iOS.

So what about iCloud? Here I’d have simple lists that support both repeats and location geofencing. And iCloud Reminders would actually make a fine GTD system if patterned on the original paper list concept of GTD. One Inbox list, one Projects list, one Someday/Maybe list and however many context lists I need. Only, if I use that, wouldn’t I be better off moving my calendar, contacts and mail to iCloud too?

For calendar and contacts, that’s not so bad. But mail is a problem. Mostly, that iCloud doesn’t allow me to send email from jeff@kirv.in. I don’t want to start using my @me.com address for everything.

So the question here is do I need to have everything productivity-related under one roof? Contacts and mail kind of need to stick together, and it’s nice to have calendar the same.

And then there’s the question of notes and documents. I’m digging Google Drive for my document storage, and there’s no problem with continuing that on the MBP. But it doesn’t work so great with iOS. The Google Drive app on mobile (iOS and Android) is ridiculous, and certainly not viable for quick notes.

Evernote is also heavier than I’d like, but it does work pretty well across platforms. Simplenote is tempting, but the web version has issues with the Chromebook.

So I’m torn between Google and Apple for PIM/email data, and no idea what to do about notes at all. Although with Drafts adding support for Google Drive, I suppose I could just create documents there called “[[topic]] Notes” and append notes to them as needed.

I think I’m going to try sticking with Google for all my data (as opposed to media), keep Google Tasks as flat as I can and see how things go.

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