I’m always very wary of these kinds of posts as they can easily come across as being boastful with a “look at all this stuff I have” air, however I personally find reading about how other people manage their own lifestyle productivity.
For me the last two years have been a real change in how I look at this kind of thing, from changing jobs to having to focus my mind a lot more in a personal environment that’s largely gone into stasis, and for a period my personal organisation took a dive. Recently, though, I’ve been trying hard to organise myself, to write more and do more coding exercises on things that I don’t get an opportunity to do outside of work; this has led me to need to be way more organised, and over the last couple of months I’ve realised there’s three devices I use more frequently than anything else for different tasks.
I think what fascinates me most is how interconnected technology has become; when I read back through posts on this site of me lambasting Apple’s walled garden device approach VS the more open tech from Google and Microsoft, then consider the fact I’m writing this post on an iPad, using imagery I took on two different devices that I also back up to a Google Drive account, I realise we live in a far more connected world than we did 10, maybe even 5 years ago. With that, these are the three devices I use most to manage my personal work.
This is a very recent change based on a year of using a MacBook Pro for work while struggling through trying to do personal coding on a very creaky old Windows machine. Anyone who’s previously read articles on this site will know I’ve long been a Windows user, through my days at the City of Lincoln Council through to my time freelancing and my work at the University of Lincoln.
But the more I started adopting modern ways of coding, the more I realised that the Windows approach wasn’t cutting it any more – I needed to be able to work more fluently on the command line, not be hamstrung by Windows non-Unix conventions, and when I started with Laser Red moving on to a Mac was the logical solution.
One year on and I picked up one for myself – an M1 MacBook Air released towards the tail end of 2020 and a very tasty prospect for both productivity and some light gaming. I’ve not quite pushed it as far as I’d like, but as a development machine it’s fast and efficient; I’m planning on doing some video editing soon and it certainly feels like it’s going to hold up well.
The only downside I’ve really found is the Air having two USB C ports over the Pro’s 4, however a decent USB dock has mitigated that and I’ve even rearranged my office set up to allow me to easily hot-swap my work Pro for my personal Air when I need a larger screen to work off or game (gaming on a Mac is an interesting thing, but that’s a whole other article!)
So,yeah, apparently I’m an Apple person now… Sort of…
I picked up my iPad Pro over a year ago to replace my older iPad (I think it’s a 2012 model?). I predominantly got it to use as a writing device as well as for media consumption but it’s ended up becoming a nice lightweight alternative to a full OS device for productivity. I picked up the keyboard case to go with it and despite having a fairly small footprint, I really enjoy using it for writing.
Yes, I do prefer writing on it over my PC or Mac; the apps I use (this was written entirely in the WordPress app and I also use Google Drive for general writing and Celtx for screenwriting) are light and free from distractions. But it’s also great for low level video editing with LumaFusion, photo editing using Snapseed and sketching in ProCreate using the Apple Pen.
As a media device it’s incredible with good sound and a bright screen, with compatibility across all my digital media and streaming services, and advances in streaming video games mean I can use services like Stadia to play AAA game titles on it.
There’s still one or two niggles I have with it – iPad OS is a far more open ecosystem than it once was, with a proper file manager and better interactivity between apps overall, but it’s still not the same as a grown up OS – there are still times when I have to jump through hoops to say transfer audio samples between Hokusai and GarageBand, or get photos from my Google Photos storage into an app.
But it’s small enough to pop open in the dinner table for quick note taking, prop up in the kitchen to watch a film or sit on my lap on the sofa to do some more creative work. Being able to use a USB C hub to connect “proper” devices to it is also a bonus, plus it doubles as a second screen for my Mac thanks to the magic of Apple’s sidecar technology.
Pixel 4a with 5g
Yes, I still use an Android phone.
Despite moving my productivity largely over to Apple devices I still can’t bring myself to get an iPhone. I think that’s largely down to the fact that I still use Google apps primarily and having my phone on me all the time makes it my first point of call for note taking, checking emails and bringing up documents to read on the go.
I also love the camera tech Google builds into their devices. I do dabble in photography – it’s not really a hobby but it’s something I enjoy and having a camera as good as the one on the Pixel just in my pocket is fantastic. Sure, it’s not THE BEST CAMERA, but it’s excellent for taking good looking photos, the stock app has some reasonable settings and the more open ecosystem on Android means there’s good options for getting more technically advanced camera apps such as Filmic Pro which I use for video.
I can’t see myself moving off an Android handset in the future, but the fact that I can seamlessly go between my Apple devices to it means I’m not particularly bothered – I’m no fanboy and I’ll take myself where the tech is best to do what I need it to, whether that’s using a device from Google, Apple or Microsoft.
And I guess that’s the purpose of this post, to talk about how we seem to be entering a golden age of tech where everything is working with everything. Walls are being broken down – Apple tech and apps are appearing on other devices (heck, we can watch Apple TV and iTunes purchased video content on the new Google ChromeCast for goodness sake!) cloud services and standardisations of connection tech via USB C and Bluetooth means that we can transfer data between devices in a cinch and it’s feeling less like an “us and them” mentality towards interoperability.
This can only be a good thing and it opens up opportunities for everyday users and folks with specialist tech requirements to pick up a device knowing that there will generally be a way for them to carry their data and experiences with them regardless of the new tech they’re moving on to. I like it!
So, has the opening up of tech walls helped you make any different decisions on the hardware or software you use? Shout up in the comments!