Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Apple v Google

Do you remember when Apple was the cheeky upstart to the Microsoft hegemony? I remember marveling at the amazing 'lickable' OSX, with its great simplicity and elegance belying the powerhouse unix BSD underpinnings. It truly was the best of both worlds, against the ubiquitous, bloated, preening, self-important Windows.

How the worm turns. And, in the true spirit of Apple, it's the little things.

My Android phone seamlessly synced my contacts, calendars, email and social networks across 4 accounts.  The calendars were colour-coded, the contacts were consolidated and rarely was there a duplicate anywhere.  Then my Android broke and work gave me an iPhone.  Beautiful screen, nice to hold (if a tad heavy), and nice solid, predictable performance, where the Android could be sticky (due to it's more laissez-faire approach to allowing apps to run the background).  But it totally trashed my contacts and calendars.  Woefully. Tragically. Hilariously. Reminiscent of some of the old Microsoft error message foolishness.

I managed to clean up my calendars. But my contacts... I dont really know where to start, as I don't have a single source of reference.  I thought I could sync my gmail accounts to the mac, and then get the mac to sync to icloud, and therefore the iphone.  So I did the gmail accounts - fine. iSync got a bit confused, with odd duplicates, but nothing major.  Then I went to add iCloud and got the following screen:-


WHY NOT?  Because you're in a sulk with Google, because they know how to do something better than you?

Apple do great devices, but once again a competitor is making that irrelevant: last time it was all about software, with Microsoft pushing Apple's macs into a niche, and this time it's all about the web, with Google pushing Apple into a (albeit much larger and content-laden) niche.  When will these companies realise that the web is infinite, and that trying to lock people into your corner of it is short-term? And yes, that means devices too, if your devices won't play nicely with other devices in the market. Sony learned that at their peril with memorysticks and minidiscs.

The solution, unsurprisingly, came from Google.  Just register your Gmail account as an Exchange account on the device, and let Google's servers do the rest.  It's the web, you see: walls can't keep it in.

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