Sorry, Google

The laptop that led me back to the Google digital lifestyle is gone. Two days ago, a preschool teacher—who happens to be the same age as my daughter—bought the Pixelbook that I purchased in June 2018 during a Father’s Day sale. Subsequently, my wife and I swapped iPhones for Pixel phones and each a MacBook Pro for Google Chromebook. I added the Pixel Slate five months later. Funny thing: While I sold her MBP, I kept mine and iPad 10.5 for software testing. That decision was wise, although sticking to the Apple Way would have been wiser.

I love the Google lifestyle, but it doesn’t love me. Too many workarounds impede my workflow, which makes me more likely to consume content rather than to create it. Google’s Material Design visually appeals, and the UX (user experience) is more consistent than Apple user interfaces, where too many motifs compete and distract. That said, Android and Chrome OS crumple where I need them to be solid. Half-baked is the Android-integration with Chrome OS—not ready for commercial release is Chrome OS tablet. The tools I need most either aren’t available, or they don’t work well. Or worse, Google takes them away.

Trouble Starts
My piecemeal slog back to the Apple Way started in February 2019 with purchase of the Fujifilm GFX 50R, for which post-processing demands a real RAW photo editor—something neither Google operating system could deliver. Mobile or web apps aren’t good enough. Then Google+ shut down on April 1st, about which I warned:

The Google+ closure in context of all the other killings, has me rethinking my commitment to the company’s products and services. My first blog posts on my website go back to 1996. Imagine had I committed them all to Google+, or some other sharing service, only to have them yanked and lost forever. Brands that lose enthusiasts’ trust will not last. Google has broken my trust with too many closures over too many years.

Last week, Google revealed July plans to break integration between Drive and Photos. The dek to Ara Wagoner’s Android Central story about the change totally expresses my sentiment: “As a heavy Google Photos user, this news is a day-ruiner”. Working from a Chromebook, uploading images to Drive to be edited and organized in Photos is crucial to my workflow.

Today, we learned that Pixel Slate is the end for Google-made tablets. There won’t be another. That means the half-baked one I foolishly bought won’t get much better either.

The point: I can’t trust Google where needed. Overall device and software security appeals—and it’s a major reason I abandoned Apple 12 months ago. But I also need another kind of security, which the fruit-logo company gives: Product and, most importantly, customer commitment. Consider today’s MacBook Pro 15-inch recall and repair announcement: The company will replace for free the battery on 2015 models sold between September of that year and February 2017. I own the 2016 MBP with Touch Bar (2.7GHz Core i7 quad-processor, 16GB RAM, 2GB Radeon Pro 455 graphics, 512GB SSD), which isn’t at risk.

When Google Store sent me the wrong Pixel 3 XL model, and I later cracked (the already damaged) screen, the customer service nightmare that followed was a comedy of chaotic errors worthy of a Catch-22 episode. I wrote not one, or two, but three stories documenting the six-week saga. Apple Store would have resolved a similar mishap in six minutes. BTW, yesterday, I sold the phone to a surfer who needed to replace a water-damaged Pixel 2 XL. All my Google gear is up for sale.

Meanwhile, my wife and I have hers and his white iPhone XSes and she a new MacBook Air with Retina Display (1.6GHz Core i5, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD). In my couple weeks walking the Apple Way, my creative productivity and output is returning to normal levels and tech company confidence is restored. Also, based on Apple and Google respective developer conferences, I see many more enhancements to my workflow coming from new versions of iOS and macOS than Android or Chrome OS.

That said, maybe if Google+, Drive-Photo integration, and other app-cloud features or services had not been ripped from my digital lifestyle, I would be typing a very different post on Pixelbook. Sorry, Google.

I used iPhone XS to capture the Featured Image. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 100. 1/59 sec, 4.25mm; 4:44 p.m. PDT, June 15, 2019.

2 thoughts on “Sorry, Google

  1. Joe your experiences are what led me away from Google years ago. I have decided to keep my youngest kids on Pixelbooks until High School for a couple of reasons:

    1. They are too cheap to not have as an option for Middle School kids who can easily damage devices.
    2. The OS is limited so I don’t have to worry about viruses and games being distractions
    3. The School district has gone Google so its easy for them to do their homework and studies.

    My wife and oldest kids have all gone Apple with iPhones and a mix of Win 10 laptops and MacBook Pro. The MBP fits perfectly in the ecosystem for my kid, while Win 10 has improved so much that for basic needs it makes sense to have a sub $700 laptop for casual surfing and bill pay. The more expensive Win 10 PC makes sense for gaming.

    Google’s biggest challenge is long term commitment to hardware. As a software company they try to use the same agile fail fast principles with HW without considering the consumer impact. Rich kids of Palo Alto can switch at the drop of a dime. The rest of America expects 5 years of life for a product investment. As Apple & MS have proven with 30 years of experience that you don’t have to do much, just do it well.

    From a software perspective iTunes lasted a decade. iPhoto just went away this year. Google’s inability to standardize its messaging, photos, etc. made me lose confidence and when they gave up on developing HTML5 apps for Android integration I saw that as a nightmare in wait. MS failed with UWP, and Apple has been slow and steady in integrating mobile OS into its legacy Desktop OS.

    Google feels the need to hit a homerun or kill the product. They’ve proven their only true commitment is to data gathering.

    1. I would do the same, if I had middle schoolers. When my mom was alive, I had her on a Chromebook for similar reasons, except for the education part of course. Worry-free means much.

      But for us, we’re done being objects of “data gathering”.

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