Switching from Google to Apple?

I do not have any Apple products I personally own or bought for myself. I did buy my mum a iPad mini for her birthday. My work computer is an Apple Macbook Pro and is the only Apple product that I have actively used. On the other hand I own a Google Pixel 3, a Fossil Gen 5 smart watch, several Google Home Hubs, a Google Home Mini, a Google Chromecast Ultra, and several other Google branded smart home devices. I am entrenched in the Google ecosystem.

This week Apple showcased their next iPhone, smart watch and iPad refreshes. It was the first time I actually watched an Apple event. I always knew that Apple had the superior software and hardware harmony. Their entire ecosystem works nearly flawlessly together. This flawless cohesion is something I find sorely lacking from Google. The commitment to hardware from Google I do not find very authentic and could change at the drop of a hat. Their support for their products is also questionable unfortunately. The one thing that made me stay away from Apple and their products was their extremely high price. Apple is a luxury brand more than a technology brand IMO.

The more articles I read and videos I watch on Apples products the more I am inclined to make the switch over from Google to Apple. The way I look at it, there are several core products for me; the phone, the smart watch, the tablet and the computer.

The Phone

With Apple, you know exactly what you are going to get. You are going to get a generally well built device with a mature operating system that while lacking in customization options is simple, clean and easy to operate. There really is not much to write about here. Generally not much changes between revisions and from what I can see, the difference between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 is very minimal. If I was to get an iPhone the iPhone 13 Pro is very tempting.

Google Pixel phones on the other hand is a little bit of mixed bag, like the box of variety chocolates. You know on the software side you will be getting the Android experience that far outshines the competition. You get a clean OS and something that I feel is what Google wants Android to be. The hardware is where Google stumbles hard. While the devices may generally be well built there are always short coming such as a bad battery life (Pixel 4) to mid-tier/average specifications (Pixel 5). The Pixel 6/6 Pro appears to be targeting once again the premium market so I’ll need to see more before I can decide if it is a worthwhile purchase.

Previously I have said that I will not be purchasing another Android device that is not a Pixel and I still stand by that statement. With Android updates both OS and security sorely lacking from the other brands, Google is really the only option.

The Smart Watch

Here again Apple does it near flawlessly. A perfect device that does what you would expect with the addition of all the health monitoring. I really like the Apple Watch and what Apple is trying to do in the health market is great. If I gave scores for devices the Apple Watch would get a near perfect 10/10.

There is no competition with the Apple Watch. Google and the entire Wear OS ecosystem is an absolute mess to put it kindly. I also do not think the new partnership between Samsung and Google will save it. What Google needs to do is release their own smart watch, a Pixel Watch. My Fossil smart watch is now no longer connected to my phone anymore as the bluetooth continued to lose pairing somehow. I gave up trying to keep it connected. It was not a good user experience.

If you are in the Android ecosystem then I suggest you just stay away from any Wear OS smart watch, even the Galaxy watches from Samsung (unless you have a Samsung phone). I do not regret getting my Fossil Gen 5, but I will never buy another Wear OS smart watch that is not Google branded.

The Tablet

This one is very much identical to the smart watch section.

Apple hits it out of the park with their iPad line. The Pro, Air, Mini and even the standard iPad are all brilliant.

I do not know what Google is doing with Android tablets. They have no first party Android tablets. The last Android tablet that Google produced was the Slate and that was a disaster. The other brands like Samsung and Lenovo continue to sell Android tablets but again, I do not want a skinned Android tablet. It is pure Android or nothing at all.

There are also the Microsoft Surface line of products. I have a Surface Pro 3 that I occasionally use as a tablet but it is far easier I would feel to use an iPad for entertainment and basic tasks. If I needed a device for productivity then my Surface Book 2 or gaming PC would be my go to. Sorry Microsoft.

The Computer

For all my gaming needs then my custom built gaming PC is my go to plus it can handle any productivity task. However it would be nice to have something portable that I can also get work done on.

At the moment I am using my Surface Book 2 to get this post written up. A fine device but it is getting on in age and I can see that the battery is not where it used to be.

Originally I was looking at some Chromebooks. Again, it seems that Google does not want to support their official line of Chromebooks in Australia. There are only third party Chromebooks and based on the build quality of those devices I am not too happy with them. If Google did offer their latest Chromebook here in Australia then I would have purchased it especially with the new Linux support in Chrome OS.

If I did go all the way in the Apple ecosystem then purchasing a Macbook Pro would be a no brainer and then I could create some iOS apps too. I would not buy an M1 Macbook Pro but an M1X/M2 Macbook Pro when announced would be a worthwhile purchase. So right now on the laptop front it is a wait and see. If I do go with an iPhone and Apple Watch then a Macbook Pro may be a smart purchase.

The only spanner in the works is the new Framework laptop. The ultra repairable and upgradable device that from everything I have seen is really good. However that device too is not shipping any products to Australia at this time. I am monitoring this closely because running Linux on that device seems like a smart option for a portable, repairable, and upgradable productivity laptop.

Surface Book 2 Impressions Part 2 of 3

If you haven’t already please check out the first part of my Surface Book 2 impressions here. It outlines how I chose the Surface Book 2 and what I was after in a laptop.

This post is going to be about the look and feel of the new Surface Book 2 13.5” version. I will be doing a performance and usability break down in the coming week as I want to have as much time putting the Surface Book 2 through its paces first.

The Surface Book 2 unboxing experience (actually any Surface product I would say) is very close to how I would imagine an Apple MacBook unboxing would be. I’ve never had an Apple product so I wouldn’t know exactly, but from what I hear Apple tries to make the unboxing experience as premium as their device. The box is extremely durable, minimalistic and has each component placed ever so thoughtfully to make the experience as pleasant to the consumer as possible. From the get go Microsoft has made the experience feel premium, kudos.

Once you take the Surface Book 2 out of the box you immediately feel you are holding a premium product. I will probably end up using the word “premium” or the phrase “top of its class” a number of times in this post because that is probably the best word and phrase to describe the Surface Book 2. The Surface Book 2 is not too heavy and not too large, so carrying it and using it on the go or on your lap is not going to be an issue. Note that I am using the 13.5” version and not the 15” one, so perhaps the 15” might be a little different; the 13.5” is the perfect size and weight for me your experience may vary.

Covering the ports and buttons quickly, the Surface Book 2 has on the left of the base two USB A ports and an SD card slot. On the right side of the base it has a USB C port and a proprietary charging port. Something most phones in 2017 don’t have is a 3.5mm headphone port; however the Surface Book 2 has a 3.5mm headphone port. It can be found on the top right of the display/lid which is great when you are using the device as a tablet but not so great when you are using it as a traditional laptop. The top left of the display also has the power button and the volume buttons which is nice to have, especially if you are going to use the device as a tablet.

Every part of the device is made from what appears to be a premium metal, it has a matte finish so there are no finger prints and makes the entire device look and feel luxurious. There are really only two colours on the device (not including the chrome inlayed Microsoft logo on the display). The colours are the light gray and black. I don’t think I can find any plastic on the Surface Book 2. Microsoft seems to have gone the route of “if you are going to be spending big bucks on a new device, then you are going to get premium parts” and I commend them on that. I have bought gaming laptops in the past which come close to the price of the new Surface Book 2 and have significantly more plastic in the build. They could have skimped on some parts but they didn’t.

If you look at the device from the side with the display/lid is closed there is a gap (it does not completely close) and that is a result of the hinge that Microsoft uses. I personally have no concern that my device does not completely close and actually am a fan of the hinge design; it is unique and does the job well in giving the consumer a good display tilt. Lifting the display/lid is extremely easy and takes minimal effort. Closing the display/lid is also just as satisfying as when the display/lid touches the base there is a satisfying magnetic click; most likely they added this to highlight to the consumer that you have closed the display/lid and it will not open up by accident. It is the little things like this that make the device feel premium and well thought out. Microsoft didn’t need to add these little touches, but it shows they really care. This is something that Apple does well and many other manufacturers miss.

One of the top two most important features of any laptop is the trackpad. Many manufacturers like HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc. generally have extremely poor to barely adequate trackpads. They are sized poorly, or placed in an odd location, or feel cheap. The Surface Book 2 trackpad however is top of its class. It is positioned perfectly on the base, is large enough, and feels smooth which to me allows for extreme pointer precision. Apple makes some of the best trackpads in the business, but Microsoft has caught up and its trackpad on the Surface Book 2 is on bar with the best that Apple offer. Kudos to Microsoft for not skimping out on the trackpad, they could have easily given us something smaller and made from plastic but they have gone again with the premium materials used throughout the device.

Something that a laptop needs to truly be useful is a solid keyboard, especially if you are to be typing on your lap or are not docked anywhere. Along with a premium trackpad there is a premium feeling keyboard. I have used many different keyboards, both on laptops and on desktop PCs. Personally I am a major fan of mechanical keyboards. There is something about that key click and key travel on them that makes typing on it such a pleasant experience. The Surface Book 2 has the keys perfectly spaced and the key travel is also near perfect. I don’t know if it is a mechanical keyboard but it sure performs like one. Every time you hit a key you get a satisfying click, and with the optimal spacing and travel you can easily type with little slow down. The keyboard is backlit which is pretty common now and is a handy feature to have. Out of all the laptops I have used this has one of the best if not the best keyboards. A close second would have to be my old Lenovo ThinkPad which also has that satisfying click and mechanical feel. It also worthwhile to note that the device feels perfectly weighted so there is little to no wobble when you are typing on your lap.

With the keyboard and trackpad covered I should probably move on to the display. You get a beautiful 3000 x 2000 resolution display. Some people are really picky about the colours on their displays, me personally I am not overly too concerned. As long as my blue is blue and my red is red I’m happy. The colours on this display are perfectly acceptable and I would not think many people would have any issues with them. The display also can go extremely dim and also extremely bright, so you have both ends of the spectrum covered. Images, video, everything that is presented on the display is crystal clear and extremely sharp. On a laptop, it has to be one of the best displays I have used. I cannot fault Microsoft here on the display. If there is one thing that I would have liked is a slightly smaller bezel, but I can understand why they had to have a bezel of this size. Coming from the Surface Pro 3 which itself had a large bezel and brilliant display, the Surface Book 2 is miles ahead in display quality.

Overall I feel that Microsoft has crafted a premium and top of its class product. I know there really isn’t much different when you first glance at the Surface Book 2 over the original Surface Book but this device really has been refined. From the precise trackpad to the near pixel perfect display, everything has been thought of. Microsoft have designed and engineered a marvelous device that can act as a laptop and a tablet. Nothing feels cheap or tacky, you are getting a premium product with premium looking and feeling parts.

As noted at the start stay tuned for my final post which will cover the Surface Book 2’s performance, and let me know if there is anything specific you want me to test. I’ll be pushing the device to its limit while I use the development tools I have installed and work on my side projects.

%d bloggers like this: