Google Chrome for iOS

A slice of Apple agnosticism.

I’m surprised that Apple has approved this app, but it’s nice to see that they have allowed another choice of browser. It’s certainly faster and I love the tab implementation. I wonder how Safari’s iCloud tabs will compare in iOS 6.

I just wish there was a native Firefox browser for iOS as well.

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Browser status

For those who know me well I will spare you of a lengthy blog post spelling out the reasons why I have switched browsers once again. All I am going to do is list the following:

Browser of choice = Firefox
Supported OS’s = Mac OS X, Windows and Linux
Default search engine = DuckDuckGo
Bookmark syncing = Xmarks
Add-ons = Ghostery, Adblock Plus, BetterPrivacy and Collusion

But what about that iPhone? Here’s the workaround…

Xmarks is supported on all major browsers, so all I have to do is install Xmarks on Safari, which will allow the bookmarks I sync in Firefox transport themselves to Safari on my Mac. I will then rely on iCloud to sync the bookmarks in Safari on my Mac to my iPhone.

There is an Xmarks app available for the iPhone and iPad, but it requires a premium Xmarks account. I haven’t researched it yet, but if it is any good I may sign up. Until then I will rely on the Xmarks/iCloud combo sync to get bookmarks on my iPhone.

Vendor neutrality

Media:

It seems like no matter which platform you choose everybody wants to own you, which runs the risk of vendor lock-in.

When I install Mac OS X / iOS it asks me to link my OS to my Apple ID, which is automatically linked to my iTunes account and all of the iCloud services.

Microsoft is taking a similar approach with Windows 8 where everything will be linked to your Live account.

Google Chrome OS / Android now has Google Play as part of their ecosystem, so if you use Gmail, Google+, you can use the same account credentials to purchase music, movies and apps through Google Play.

Ubuntu now has Ubuntu One, which is a cloud storage service that is also a way of storing your media that is purchased through the Ubuntu One Music store.

Convenience:

Each service makes life convenient for you to sync your data and purchases between devices running on the same platform. Right now, I am an avid iTunes user and utilize Apple’s iCloud service to sync between my MacBook Pro and iPhone. I’m sure if you are a devout user of Google’s or Microsoft’s services then being able to sync between Chrome/Android or Windows/Live then life has been made a lot easier for you as well. But what about people who don’t want to be locked in? Where do they go?

I’ve been toying with the idea of using Amazon as my go to place for digital media and cloud storage. By doing so, I am free from the services provided by the OS companies. It would be like a centralized, platform agnostic hub for all of my digital needs that is supported on almost all hardware and software.

iTunes vs Amazon:

Right now every song I purchase is through my iTunes account, which many people have told me “now your stuck in Apple’s walled garden!”. I didn’t really see this as a problem, because I am not the kind of person who pushes music files to so many different devices. My iPhone is my new iPod and I do more music purchasing directly from my iPhone than on my MacBook Pro. I also listen to my music more on my iPhone than I do on my MacBook Pro, so why should I really care that I can’t move my music files around? Here’s the dilemma… What if?

  • What if I do want to use a different computer or phone OS?
  • What if I do want to push my music files around to multiple devices?
  • What if I do want access to my music and data from somebody else’s computer?
  • What if I do want to share the odd song here and there?
  • What if I do start purchasing more digital movies and TV shows?

With Amazon I can do all of the above. I figured that it is in Amazon’s interest to be interoperable and usable on as many platforms as possible because they are an online service trying to get as much coverage and customers as possible. They don’t own an OS or web-based email services such as iCloud, Gmail, Hotmail etc, so there is no incentive to lock people into a particular service or operating system.

Before iTunes Match the task of switching “provider” would have been daunting, because songs I would have purchased on iTunes would have remained there and songs I purchased separately on Amazon would have to be downloaded individually, imported into iTunes manually, and then synced to my iPhone via the USB cable.

That is no longer the case because Amazon has automated the importing process to iTunes. Once it is in iTunes, iTunes Match logs a copy of it in iCloud, which means it is immediately available on my iPhone. This is a bit of a step backwards due to the fact that if I want music purchased from Amazon to appear on my iPhone via iCloud it involves me relying on my MacBook to purchase the music.

However, Amazon has a Cloud Player app for iOS that will allow me to stream my music over the air from my Amazon library, so any purchases that have not gone through the Amazon > Mac > iTunes Match process can be played as long as I have an Internet connection on my phone.

Conclusion:

Seeing as I have already paid $25 for my annual iTunes Match subscription I think I am going to start by just purchasing my music from Amazon and then relying on the “process” to sync with iCloud. However, should I choose to move to Amazon full time I can get 20GB’s of storage for $20 per year, which is cheaper than iTunes Match plus the 20GB’s is only counted towards music I upload from iTunes. All music purchased directly from Amazon does not utilize any of that storage space whatsoever. So, seeing as my music library is only 8GB’s I will have 12GB’s remaining as a cloud storage solution through Amazon’s Cloud Drive.

What is a platform agnostic technologist?

Well, the answer is in the name, but basically there is so much great technology out there in the world why would you want to corner yourself into one platform?

Admittedly, my hardware of choice right now is Apple. I have owned multiple MacBook’s and MacBook Pro’s over the years and I recently purchased an iPhone 4s.

What is awesome about the Intel based MacBook lineup though is the fact that they can run Windows and Linux natively, thus allowing me to use all three major platforms on a single device.

Right now, I am running Mac OS X Lion as my primary partition, which consists of an Ubuntu 12.04 virtual machine running on VMWare Fusion. I then have a 50GB Boot Camp partition set aside for Windows 7 Ultimate, which I can run natively or within VMWare Fusion.

The one thing that does worry me and ultimately goes against being a platform agnostic technologist is the cell phone. My previous employer provided me with an iPhone 3Gs and an iPhone 4 over the course of approximately 4 years. In that time I had spent many dollars on apps for iOS, which has somewhat anchored me to this device. 

Right now, continuing to use an iPhone is not a problem for me. Given all the fragmentation that’s going on with the Android OS and the plethora of handset manufacturers I’m glad to not be caught up in that mess. However, Windows Phone 8 was just revealed to the world and it looks very promising!

With the increase in smartphone usage will there ever be a platform agnostic app store?

This blog isn’t going to be focused on mobile technologies, and it won’t be a collage of other people’s blog posts and news articles on other technologies either. It is going to be focused on the different technologies that I encounter on a daily/weekly/monthly basis depending on what comes my way.