My other half Liam is a closet Android fanboy. I am a closet Apple fangirl. This doesn’t always work out in either of our favour but we somehow seem to make it work.
I first discovered Apple Macintosh when I was eleven years old. Slightly naive and innocent when it came to the world of computers, I pulled out the chair and sat in front of an Apple Macintosh Centris 650 at my primary school. I used the word processing software and Corel. Long before my school could afford Adobe. The computers (there was two of them) were a donation from the county council as my small school was too poor to afford a computer of its own. I remember the black and white interface, the smiley little Apple computer that would come up at the beginning of the start up sequence and when something was broken, how you would see the unhappy computer :( You were allowed a maximum of thirty minutes and you would have to sign in and out on the clipboard next to the computer. If you spent over your thirty minutes, a teacher or dinnerlady would kick you off and demand you go outside. I was mesmerized by the machines, they had some kind of unspoken thrall over me. I would look forward to school just so I could mess around on the computers some more. When they went wrong, I was always called to help. I became the unpaid Apple Guru before there was even such a thing. I was the first and only Apple tech nerd in my circle of friends for a very long time.
When I left primary school, I didn’t see another Apple Macintosh for a very long time. I kept abrest with the tech news, the new computers coming out and the rumblings of Apple wanting to take on Sony for shares in the personal music player market. I scoffed at this news. I thought it was ridiculous. Why on earth would anyone want to take on Sony for music players? I was happy with my Sony Discman at the time and I never thought anything could replace it. I was tempted by the new technology of the MiniDisc but I knew it was never really going to take off. The players were far too expensive to begin with anyway. I had a massive CD collection and as far as I was aware, I was always going to be carrying around a CD player for the near future. It was a good five or six years away from the announcement of the iPod and MP3s were very much an uncertainty. I’m pretty sure that they had been discussed in depth, but I don’t think they knew how much they would change the way that we would listen to our music collections.
College/University time. I used an Apple Power Macintosh G3. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw with it’s white and blue plastic. I can remember approaching it and thinking to myself ‘holy crap. That’s a big computer!’ Sitting down in front of it with the separate screen, I loved how everything seemed to colour coordinated from the screen to the tower to the mouse and keyboard. I scanned my photos in using the scanner attached to the computer. There were no digital cameras really then, and if there was- they would have been really expensive! I opened the photo files I had saved on the harddrive and used Adobe Photoshop 5, I thought I was the bees knees having used a really expensive computer. Editing photos was not the easiest thing in the world to learn, and it took a few tries but I got there in the end. PC’s could not do this at the time as Adobe was only available for Macintosh computers so if you were a photographer or a composer or a film producer- you used a Mac. It’s still kind of the same way now, as I know there’s a lot of people out there like myself who have grown up with the brand along their careers in the industry. It’s just what you get used to. I used this machine for two years and then as it’s highly upgradeable- I did see some on the sidelines when I went to university.
University was a bit of a disaster for me. I mean, I passed. That much is true. 2.2, 2.1 and 2.1. The first year doesn’t really count, I’m still not really sure how I got through it as I swear I was drunk half the time. The other time, I was slumped over a computer. When I started my university course, I was still using traditional film media and a scanner for my photos. Along with a Power Mac G4. By the end of it, I was using a Canon EOS digital SLR, Firewire and an Apple PowerBook G4 . The game had changed and my field of study had significantly shifted along with it. I’d used my student loan towards the end to buy myself a laptop, I’d taken to spending most of my time at home studying. If I wanted to use a computer, I had to go to the university computer labs to use one as the only one I had at home was a very basic Compaq family computer. So, I decided to buy myself a laptop. Having only really used Apple Macintosh up to this point, I decided not to break the mold and I continued on with what I knew best.
I was IN LOVE. The Apple Macintosh Powerbook G4 was like a dream come true for me. Anything I threw at the computer, it would process it with the speed of light. Being used to the family computer crashing if I tried to run more than one thing at the same time- this thing was like an angel sent from above. I would cart it to and from university with me. I had my little Yahoo email address. My very first website talking about music. I became obsessed with the internet and I began posting my photos online. Around this time, Apple dropped the old format of their OS systems and started up with the new versions of Jaguar. It was a step into the unknown and no one quite knew what to make of it all. Additions to the OS included the much loved iPhoto, which still to this day is my favourite part of the OS. The little friendly computer screen was gone to be replaced by the SPINNING WHEEL OF DOOM. Oh how that irritated me! To the end of the course, my PowerBook was looking bedraggled and my parents bought me a new one as a graduation present. Well, I thought they were going to. Instead, I ended up with this:
An iMac Flat Panel G4. They thought it was better I had a desktop computer, and it was cheaper than a new laptop so that was my gift. Not to be ungrateful, I accepted the gift and played around with Jaguar for a year. I sorely missed my PowerBook though and looked into buying another one. As a second computer I could hide at a friend’s house or something. I knew it was a stupid idea, but the day that the salesman handed over my new shiny PowerBook G4 17″…I almost thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was heavy too, the first 17″ laptop available on the market in 2002 and I looked a bit ridiculous sitting in public with it as it was bigger than most other laptops available at that time.
It had a lot of firsts for Apple, the first computer of theirs to have built-in AirPort Extreme and FireWire 800. It had a built-in wireless adapter before the rest of the market had even thought about it. That sadly meant trying to find a wireless connection in public was nil, and it was tricky to use. I would take it out to type on but it had a bit of a lousy battery life so it wasn’t long before I trudged home with it under my arm to put it back on charge. That year I got a merchandising job, and it turned out I was actually really good at it. I would take along the laptop with me as at the time I couldn’t afford an iPod too so I used it as my stereo and would blast my music from it in the evenings. Until I fell in with a bad crowd at work. My now ex boyfriend, stole my pride and joy from me. I left it at his house and then when I asked for it back after we broke up he failed to show up with the goods. I reported him to the police. It turned out he was in the country under a false name and false paperwork. So both myself and the company we were working for were stung by his behaviour.
Since then, I’ve sadly had two Dell computers as I’ve not been able to afford another Apple machine. I’ve had plenty of iPods though, started off with the very first iPod Shuffle and today I have the latest iPod Touch 32GB. The nearest I get these days to an Apple machine is my iPad2 16GB WIFI. It doesn’t do what a computer does, but I can do most things and it keeps me happy- even if I am caught playing Plants vs Zombies half the time! I love Apple. My phone contract runs out next July and I’m looking forward to finally having an iPhone. It’s not because I’m being a bandwagon jumper. It’s because I love them as a company and I love their products. I’ve used Blackberry and Android too. I loved the battery life on my BB and the UI on my HTC Desire Z. But to have everything sync together as one happy family tends to have a special place in my heart. It’s annoying when the iPad2 and the iPod Touch tend to ding at the same time- it scares the heck out of me! But I really do love it, and it all started with a Centris 650 :)
For me my “admiration” about all things Google started back in the very early 2000’s (around 2001-2002), at that time I was still using search engines such as Yahoo, Lycos and Altavista. For e-mail I was using Hotmail. One day I remember stumbling across this unknown search engine called “Google”. Intrigued I typed in a random search and I was amazing by how fast it was in bringing up a listing. From there, there was no turning back. The Google homepage was set to my homepage. Over the years as the “Big G” started to bring out more and more products I slowly converted to them. From Hotmail I switched to GMail, and from Firefox I very reluctantly switched to Google Chrome. I say reluctantly because I really liked Firefox but with each new release I found the browser to slow down more and more. Once again trying Google Chrome for the first time was like trying the search engine after years with Yahoo. The speed increase was remarkable and I found myself not going back, despite the fact that the introduction of Chrome forced Firefox to up their game, but still despite all this, I didn’t feel myself “locked into” the Google ecosystem.
This all changed in February 2008, when I decided that my LG Viewty wasn’t doing the job that I wanted it to do, so I decided to pop into my local T-Mobile UK shop and take out my first contract phone. I had a look around and one phone caught my eye. Little did I know then was that it was to be the phone that would start the invasion of the little green robots. The HTC G1 (Dream).
This phone wasn’t the prettiest phone they had in the shop, not by a long mile but there was something about it, it looked quirky and unique but normally that wouldn’t catch my eye and make me purchase it. What did catch my eye was the operating system. Even back then in it’s infancy, there was something about Android that made me thing “hang on, this thing has real potential”. If you were to hand someone who is used to the latest Gingerbread or even Ice Cream Sandwich Android phones a G1 as it was when it was released, they would truly see how far the operating system has come in such a relatively short space of time. When I first got my G1 the operating system didn’t even have an on-screen keyboard and at that time even the Blackberry App World had more applications then the Android Marketplace had.
It wasn’t just the Android operating system that “locked” me into the Google ecosystem, but it was the applications and services surrounding Android that made me appreciate Google more and more. Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Mail and later on applications like Google Plus, Google Earth, Google Maps and not just offered a service but in a funny sort of way they engaged you with that service. Google Contacts become essential for me as I’m someone who likes to change my phone a lot, Google Mail offered a fantastic e-mail client with push notifications and Google Maps has saved my bacon on more then one occasion.
After the G1, I purchased the phone that suddenly made people think “wait a second, we might actually have a competitor at last to iOS”, the HTC Hero. This was the phone that I absolutely adored. At the time the phone was slick, HTC Sense was a beautiful thing to behold (it’s now a burden when it comes to getting the latest OS updates but that’s for another day) and I really enjoyed the device. This was followed shortly after by the Nexus One, the Desire Z, the Samsung Galaxy S2 and my current phone the Xperia Mini. Between the Galaxy and the Xperia I did return back to a Blackberry I once had. This only lasted a month though as I quickly realized one thing.
When it comes to the apps on Android, when it comes to the sheer customization you can achieve on Android, for me as an experience, no operating system comes close. I’ve tried iOS for a few days. I purchased myself an iPod Touch in November but ended up returning it as well, I just couldn’t get on with the OS. Compared to what I’m used to I found it cumbersome. People say Android is clunky yet I found iOS to be just as bad, if not worse in places.
For me, I like the majority of things that Google creates. There has been some that have seemed pointless to me in the past (here’s looking at you Wave and Buzz), but these are far outweighed by applications and utilities such as Calendar, Maps, Earth, Shopper, Goggles, Mail, Contacts, Translate and of course the wonderful Android operating system itself. When you also throw in the apps that I have purchased for Android over the three years I’ve been using the system coupled with the Google search engine and Google Chrome, it’s not hard to understand why I would lean towards a Big G release ahead of the evil fruit. I’m yet to try a Chromebook and I’m yet to have an Android tablet, but knowing me, sooner or later that time will come.
I’m not saying all things Google and Android are perfect. I still wish that Google would force both the manufactorers and the carries to give you the option to have either pure Android or their skinned version. For me i’d have the pure Android version as I would like to have my OS updates before the Mayan calendar runs out. That’s the one plus that iOS has over Android. When Apple released a new version of their operating system, all eligible devices has it within hours or days. With Android, sometimes you have to wait months for companies like Sony Eriksson, LG, Samsung or HTC to finally get moving and then if you haven’t got a sim-free version you then have to wait for the carriers to shove their bloatware on top before you even get the update. Despite this though I find the Android experience to be the best experience you can get right now.
If someone came to me and said “here is an iPhone 4S, an iPad 2 and an iPod 64gb, will you take all these and not use the “Google experience” again? My answer would be a resounding NO! It’s pretty much the case of that it would take too much effort, would cost too much money to switch ecosystems, and I really don’t think it would be worth the hassle. So for me, it’s Android and Google over Apple any day.