It's easy to just take off on a rant about a technology company that exhibits actions you don't like. Particularly when the underpinnings are possibly nefarious, it's much harder to highlight the positives. But to produce a series on Life without Google and to do it right, that perspective has to be touched on, otherwise I'll get labeled a fan-boy or an anti-Googler from the countless Internet trolls. Why? Because many of the Google services I used have been replaced with Microsoft alternatives. Many – but not all.
Still, for anyone that wants to migrate from one service to another, there has to be a reason why the original service was used in the first place. There had to be something of value otherwise it was just being used because everyone else did, or the alternatives were so horrid that the service was spectacular in comparison. Truly, no one wants to be considered a technology lemming. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to weigh options, consider implications, and make a decision based on those tenets. So, most just hear things like "Google it" or "I just Googled it" or "My GoogleFu failed me today" and believe it must be the only option.
So, this series starter on Life without Google might surprise some, particularly when I tell you that Google truly has some amazing apps and services. The ecosystem and the integration is by far some of the best technology implementations ever. You'll hear people say that Android is fragmented. Most have no clue what that means, nor do they care. The Android experience is almost flawless and the way apps and data work across devices is near seamless. The experience is highly noteworthy, and in no small way has a lot to do with why Android is kicking iOS's butt these days. Apple seems to think it's because Android is available on cheapdevices (hence, why Apple will be releasing a cheaper iPhone soon), but it's really the total package. Android feels liberating against a horribly closed, aging system like Apple has created. Google has accomplished some amazing things in a short time that have served to make other vendors envious and bent on developing copycat technologies.
Google made its name with Search, but, while the Search engine is good (not great), it's not the best piece in the Google technology pie. Google Maps has saved my butt more than once. Gmail was revolutionary, finally giving the public a useable, relatively Spam-free email solution. I had a Hotmail account for years on years and all it was good for was Spam collection. YouTube continues to be the go-to location for video. Google Reader (RIP) provided a great RSS experience. Google has done amazing things for online purchases of apps and books with the Google Play store execution, and the language translation services, both online and for mobile devices, is truly innovative.
So remember…this is not about being anti-Google apps and services or hating Google's technology. This is not an emotional decision – it’s a technical one. This is about Google's policies, or lack thereof. This is about how being tied to a Google ecosystem means you are forfeiting liberties, privacy, and security, and by using any of their services you unconsciously support their growing arrogance.
Google's offerings are extremely good – and this is actually part of the problem. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?
In the next article, I'll dig into one of the easiest to understand Google technologies, but probably the hardest to give up for most: Search.
If you're just coming into this ongoing series, I highly suggest you read the introduction HERE. The introduction page also contains the links to the other articles in the series so you can quickly identify those areas where you have the most interest.