Recycled Computing

Walking in the Clouds: Google vs. MobileMe

- 2010.09.15

When I installed Mac OS X 10.5Leopard on my old 12"PowerBook G4 laptop, I got my first taste of using Apple's "cloud"*in my everyday computer use. Every once in a while, a box appears on mydesktop asking permission to sync my computer with Apple's $99 per yearMobileMe service.

My iPod touch does the same thing, but without telling me.

This is a great feature in Leopard that is not present in OS X 10.4 Tiger, the ability tomaintain databases across different computers without having to thinkabout it. It's kind of like the convenience of Time Machine. Leopardtakes care of two critical functions without any fuss or bother.

Nevertheless, when my MobileMe account runs out in about 200 days, Iwon't be renewing it.

Why? Because it just doesn't justify the money spent on it. Thereare other "clouds" available that don't require payment. And (this isan important and) these other "clouds" are platformindependent.

When I first started running the computer labs at the high school, Iswitched from the paper system and went to using the iCal applicationon my Mac. Then I started to think about making this electronicschedule available to teachers so they could do their planning fromtheir home or office. It is possible to "subscribe" to my iCal, but thetech director at our district level pointed out to me that Google Calendar does the samething as iCal - and it is platform independent. This meant that Windowsand Linux users can go online and view the calendar.

I've been using Google Calendar ever since. When I got my iPod touch(I don't leave home without it), Mr. Mike showed me how to sync Googlewith the Calendar on the iPod and I've steadily been exploring theGoogle online applications. Our resident boot loader Jedi Knight, Mr.Mike, uses Google Docs totransfer documents between his PC, Mac, and Linux machines (He has abox that boots all three!).

Google Voice has somereally nice features as well. Rumor has it that an independent app maycome to the App Store that will allow people to use Google Voice on theiPod touch. Neat.

I just recently synced my contacts to Gmail, so I'm thinking thatGoogle will be my "cloud" in the future.

It's kind of nice to be able to track my "missing" iPod with Apple's"Find My Phone" feature, but really, is it worth the money? In two tothree years without the MobileMe fee, I save enough to buy a new iPodtouch.

I may abandon my use of AppleWorks for Google's online applications.

I am even thinking about using an Android phone! How can this be?(AT&T does not provide service in my area.)

I love using Apple products, but it seems to me that Android coupledwith Google's free cloud apps may be very serious competition for theiPhone and MobileMe.

It would take some big additions to MobileMe for me to considerrenewing my subscription. Perhaps an online version of Pages?Keynote?

Competition is good, and Apple has to realize that it has to competewith the power of Google and its free cloud. LEM

* Cloud computing is a paradigm shift. Just aspersonal computers moved data storage from the mainframe orminicomputer to the PC, the cloud moves data storage (and sometimesapplications) from the PC to the Internet, where documents and filescan be accessed and synchronized with multiple computers, even oneswith different operating systems.

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