Why I Left The Apple Ecosystem

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Apple Ecosystem
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Over the past few years, I’ve dedicated my life to the Apple Ecosystem. I had multiple devices and utilised services and apps that were created for it. I’ve been fully in it and it was great!

A few months ago, I decided to bite the bullet and move on. As a tech reviewer and enthusiast, I felt locked in and out of touch with other great tech products.

I decided that it was time to move on to a more open ecosystem that had room for devices of different brands and systems. I guess that as a technologist, I wanted to gain first-hand experience with other devices and options.

This is my story of my expanding my horizons in the world of tech.

Why Did I Move To The Apple EcoSystem in the first place?

I was halfway through my undergraduate degree when I noticed that I was far more productive on Apple devices. To this day, I’m not sure what it was but for some reason, I was always able to get more work done on a Mac and at the same time I found that I was enjoying working on a Mac far more than I was on Windows.

It could be that having been brought up on Windows and it being so mainstream at school and university, I just got bored of it, not sure how to explain it.

Therefore, decided to invest in a MacBook Pro, being a poor university student at the time, I didn’t really have the funds to get a new one so I decided to go second-hand and I got a Mid-2012 MacBook Pro, which being a computing student, I upgraded to a faster Solid State Drive (SSD) and I doubled the RAM.

At the time of purchase, it would have been around five years old. I remember being astonished even before the upgrade! The performance of the MacBook even with basic specs that included a mechanical hard drive, the quality of the device was also very good considering its age.

I instantly fell in love working on it and decided to dig deeper into the Apple ecosystem. I got a brand new iPhone 6, an iPad and even an Apple watch and I really enjoyed using these devices as a whole.

Fast-forward a few years and several devices later…

Since I first moved to the Apple ecosystem, I tried using various Android phones such as the Pixel 3A XL, the Samsung Note 10 and the Pixel 5 but, these never became my primary devices, and even after trying to use an Android phone for a few weeks, I always went back to an iPhone. I guess I just felt more comfortable using iPhones.

Before leaving the Apple Eco-System, I was using an iPhone 12, iPad Pro (2nd Gen), Apple Watch SE, several AirTags, Home Pod Mini and Mac Mini, which, like my old MacBook Pro was also a 2012 model. I guess I was lucky enough to pick it up at a bargain price and it was more than enough for me at the time.

iPhone 12

My iPhone 12 was at the heart of my ecosystem. It was the device I carried with me every day and if for some reason I left it at home, I would feel lost. Whilst the phone was great, I made a very bad decision of getting the 64 GB version. I thought that iCloud would take care of things but with the amount of content I was recording and photos I was taking, it just became a real hassle, so I decided to upgrade my phone. This was the first step in me migrating to a more open ecosystem, but more on that later.

The iPhone 12 replaced my ageing iPhone 7. I had a gorgeous 127 GB Jet Black iPhone 7 which I truly miss and hope that one day Apple will once again use that colour! On a side note, I do like Apple’s new midnight blue on the iPhone 13.

iPad Pro 2nd Gen

The iPad Pro 2nd Gen is an item I still use in my mixed ecosystem and I currently can’t live without it. There’s something about the iPads that just makes them feel great to work on compared to other tablets, well that I used anyway and I used many brands and models including the top of the range models.

The iPad Pro has actually become my primary computer! I use it for everything, writing blog posts, video editing, watching YouTube videos and even just browsing the internet. I guess it’s just one of those devices that’s equally convenient and reliable.

How My iPad Pro Became My Primary Computer

AirPods Pro

The AirPods Pro has been one of my favourite go-to wireless earbuds. They just seal that gap to make the entire Apple Ecosystem just a little bit better. The sound quality is great, they have active noise cancelling (ANC), they feel great and the sound quality is brilliant.

One of my favourite features is the fact that they instantly connect to devices where the sound is coming from. For example, if I’m writing on my iPad and a call came in on my iPhone 12, they would instantly switch so that I am able to take the phone call. It’s these little things that have made the overall experience so much better.

However, this year I tested a wide range of budget and premium earbuds and found that the AirPods Pro just aren’t that great in an open ecosystem, especially if we compare them to some of the alternatives such as the Sony WF-1000XM3.

Therefore, I just stopped using them at the end and I do miss them, but not having an iPhone, I do feel I’m missing out on their full potential.

Apple Watch

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Apple Watch and I still think that in terms of app support and features, they are my favourite all-time smartwatches. I actually had a total of 3 of them and loved every single one. Starting with the original, I then had the 3 as well as SE Nike Edition.

One of the key reasons I liked my Apple Watch so much was the app support, there were just so many apps compared to what I have now on my WearOS watch, which is a huge downside to wear OS and is one of the main reasons for my rant about the platform.

Selecting an Android Smartphone meant that I had to wave goodbye to my Apple Watch and it broke my heart. However, the upgrade wasn’t as bad as you may think, because its replacement is actually rather good! I’m currently using the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra which is the best WearOS Smartwatch I ever owned! You can check out my review here.

Mac Mini

After completing my undergraduate degree, I didn’t really have the need for my ageing MacBook Pro so I decided to sell it, something I actually regretted as then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and as I was unable to do my graduate scheme, I decided to do an online masters degree. I, therefore, got a second-hand Mac Mini which also happened to be a 2012 model.

Just like with my MacBook Pro, I upgraded the RAM and put an SSD inside to make it perform even better!

The Mac Mini got me through my entire Masters’s Degree and I still have it today, but I don’t use it as you may expect, there’ll be more on that shortly.

Others

I also had a Home Pod Mini which I really liked. Not only did it sound great, but it worked with my shortcuts which were one of my favourite parts of the ecosystem.

I also had several AirTags. Apple has seriously done a great job with the Airtags, not only do they work great, the app is brilliant and because they use the Apple network finding lost things is just so much better.

Ok, But why did you leave?

The truth of the matter was that I desperately needed a new phone as my 64GB iPhone 12 was just not good enough for my needs. I couldn’t really afford the 12 Pro Max and the 13’s were just way too similar to each other in my view. I guess there was no excitement or innovation like you get with the Samsung Z-Flip.

That was the first reason, that made me look elsewhere, the second reason was that I was getting fed up with Apple Devices not supporting other platforms. When I graduated with my Master’s, I discontinued using my Mac Mini as it just sat there collecting dust. I started using my Windows gaming rig more and more when I needed an actual computer.

As you can imagine the support from Apple apps, even iCloud wasn’t great. The browser-based version of iCloud isn’t great and using it kind of reminded me of the iOS 4.0 interface, particularly within the mail app. The iCloud Drive web app was very limited in features, especially when we combine it with Google Drive or OneDrive, so I decided to switch to Google. I switched to Gmail and Google Drive and instantly fell in love with the apps and the ability to access them on multiple platforms.

That got me thinking, I liked the Apple Ecosystem, but as a tech reviewer and enthusiast, I wanted access to new features and technology. I, therefore, decided that I was going to open my ecosystem.

What Does My Open Ecosystem Look Like?

Surprisingly, whilst I have several different devices and brands, I still use my iPad Pro as my main computer. It’s just portable and works great. However, here is what I currently use…

My Phone: Google Pixel 6 Pro

My current daily driver is my Pixel 6 Pro. I know that it hasn’t had the best marketing following several issues and failures, but I actually quite like the phone, especially that stunning camera!

Personally, I haven’t had any major issues other than the camera crashing every now and again and my recent hot weather discovery of it not liking to charge wirelessly during hot weather, but that’s a story for another day.

As a whole, I really like my Pixel 6 Pro and I do think that Android has drastically improved over the years. I really like the Pixel’s interface and I think that there is a bright future ahead for the Android world.

My Watch: Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra

My current watch of choice happens to be Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra, which is actually quite a good watch. I think that it’s really nice to go back to a watch with a round face, it just looks more traditional and smart at the same time.

My one complaint is the lack of app support compared to the Apple Watch, but that’s not really Mobvoi’s fault and they made some really good apps of their own which I really enjoy using. You can check out my full review down below…

Earbuds: Various

The truth of the matter is that I haven’t stuck to a single set of earbuds throughout this year as I’ve been testing a huge variety of them in my everyday life, each of them has its strengths and weaknesses and I don’t think that I would be able to just pick one set.

However, two of my favourite sets are the Nothing Ear (1)’s and the Pixel Buds A. Both of these earbuds have strengths and weaknesses and funnily enough, they both are ones that I bought out of my own pocket.

My Computer

At present the device I call my main computer happens to be my 11-inch, 2nd Gen iPad Pro. It’s small and perfect to carry around with you. It’s my notebook, my planner, the list just goes on. I use it for basic video and photo editing as well as writing blog posts! However, it’s not the only computer I use

I became a huge fan of Windows 11, so naturally, my now ageing gaming rig is running on Windows 11. I use my gaming rig primarily for more advanced video editing as well as the occasional gaming, however, I seriously do need to start thinking about upgrading as spec wise it’s quite old now.

I recently invested in a new laptop, the Huawei MateBook D15 which surprisingly is a very nice laptop at £500 and is highly worth my recommendation too!

I also kept my Mac Mini, but as I already mentioned, I don’t use it as you would expect. At the heart of my home lab, the Mac Mini became an ESXI server which I use for learning purposes.

Others

Since Apple’s AirTags aren’t compatible with Android Phones, I needed to find something new and to tell you the truth, I still haven’t found a suitable alternative. I tried Tile, Chipollo and a handful of other smaller trackers, but nothing has yet matched the AirTag.

What I have got is the KeySmart Max which is a very cool gadget that keeps your keys organised and has a rechargeable tile built-in!

I also decided to swap my Home Pod mini for a Second-Gen Nest Display which I really like, although there was a brief time I was using an Echo Spot, I found that I wasn’t getting on with Alexa.

Conclusion

To conclude this article, I wanted to talk about how I feel the move is going and whether I recommend doing something similar.

As a whole, I feel that the main reason for moving was to experience more technology and to become a multi-user.

Was this a good move and do I regret it?

That’s a very difficult question and whilst I am slowly starting to miss the Apple ecosystem, I must move forward and adapt to an even better open one.

I also think that it’s too early to give you a straight answer. I’ve been in an open ecosystem for several months now and I keep learning new things, and finding new apps, services and devices. I think I need more time, but there will be an article once I’m ready to provide an answer. So if you haven’t already, I highly recommend subscribing!

Would I recommend it?

I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for trying out new things, therefore I definitely recommend trying out new devices. One thing to bear in mind is that you should not start with ultra-budget smartphones, because they are built with basic use in mind, try a premium device first such as a Samsung or Pixel, a premium laptop. The last thing you want is to be put off by a poor-quality device.

If you do decide to bite the bullet and try it, I also recommend doing a lot of research, so that you can get a better understanding of what switching involves and how best to go about it.