By Jason Snell
February 28, 2017 4:04 PM PT
The best tool for the job
This month’s Six Colors Magazine is, strangely enough, not brought to you by Google’s collection of productivity apps, but most of the articles here discuss Google stuff, entirely coincidentally.
A lot of people who don’t know me well assume that because I write about Apple products and use Macs and iOS devices exclusively, I’m all in on Apple’s cloud ecosystem, too. But that’s just not true. When I discovered, sadly, that the excellent iOS app FlightTrack was being discontinued, a friend suggested that I try Google Trips, but was concerned that it might not work for me.
I’m not sure Google Trips is quite what I’m looking for, but it worked well when I tried it, because Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive are major parts of my current workspace. I’m glad that Google has (generally) taken care to bring its services to iOS, because I’m a user of both. I’m not interested in switching to Android, but I’m not really interested in moving all my documents to Pages, either.
This is hardly the first time that I’ve embraced software that was not what I was supposed to embrace as a Mac user. My first magazine cover story was a shootout between Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer, for MacUser. (Yes, kids, Netscape was a web browser and Internet Explorer used to run on the Mac.) At the time, Netscape was the incumbent and IE was part of an evil strategy by Microsoft to prevent the emergence of the Web from weakening its stranglehold on the computing market.
But thing this was, IE for Mac was superior to Netscape in every way. Netscape was bogged down by slow cross-platform code, while IE for Mac was—strangely enough—written directly for the Mac and faster and more Mac-like in every way. (This was the beginning of a revised Microsoft strategy that would eventually embrace the Mac in the aftermath of the debacle of Word 6.)
It might have been heresy to use Microsoft Word 5, but it was the best word processor the Mac had ever seen, and might still be so. I’m a firm believer in using the right tool for the job, not using a bad tool because it’s made by a company you want to support. I know that can sound harsh, and there are sometimes extenuating circumstances, but I’m not interested in harming my own working environment out of some sort of feeling of charity. I might buy an app from an up-and-coming company in the hope that it improves, but if it doesn’t work for me, I won’t keep using it!
These days, I do use Numbers to generate all the charts that appear on Six Colors when Apple releases financial results, and I’ve even used iCloud Sharing to share that file with Dan Moren. I never use Pages, preferring to write in BBEdit or Scrivener or, yes, Google Docs. But if I’m making a slide presentation, I am all over Keynote, and would accept no substitutes.
Also, even though I have a lot of storage available on both iCloud and Google Drive, I use Dropbox for most of my file sharing. It’s served me well and has the features I want, so I’m going to use it.
As someone who has written about Apple and the Apple community for two decades, I’m sometimes troubled by various factions of tribalism that insist that if you’re a true Apple product user you’ll only patronize product X or service Y. But while I’m trouble by it, I’m not surprised—because I learned my lesson in 1995 when I wrote about web browsers at the height of Microsoft’s assault on Apple—and picked the Microsoft product as the winner. It might not have been the most politic decision I could’ve made, but it was the right one, because it was the better product.