My Tools, My Choice

We live in a world of choice.  Within reason, you can choose the car you drive, the type of coffee you’re drinking this morning, what color shirt you’re going to wear today… and what kind of technology you’re going to use.  When it comes to choosing technology, I tend to make my choices based on several factors.  What do I need the technology to do?  If it’s battery powered, will it last me for as long as I need it to?  Is it easy and convenient to use?  Does it look nice (let’s be honest, that can be a deciding factor as much as anything)?  Does it have the features I need to get my work and/or play done?

When it comes to buying something like a new smart phone or laptop, I like to think that most people will, like me, weigh out the pros and cons of the devices they’re considering.  They’ll spend time poking around with laptops at BestBuy, the Microsoft Store, and the Apple Store.  They’ll go through the gambit of smart phones available, and, at some point, will kick the tires of all the players to see if they’re still using what would be the best set of devices for them.  Sure, if you like iPhone or Android, there’s nothing wrong with buying a couple in a row.  But there is honestly value in kicking the other tires from time to time.  Technologies change, and so, too, can your opinions if you’re willing to see if you’re missing something.

I’m writing this post on a 2013 MacBook Air.  Lovely machine.  Light weight.  Attractive.  Powerful.  But I have no specific brand loyalty to Apple.  Of course, I’m a web developer, so my core concern for any laptop I own is that it’s powerful enough for me to work on.  And when I go to replace this computer, most likely this year, I’m currently looking at both the MacBook Pro (whatever comes out at WWDC in June), and the Surface Book (or, if the rumors are true, the Surface Book 2).  They’re both great machines (now that Microsoft has ironed out most of the launch woes, that is…), and both would make me happy.  But I’m not specifically loyal to either brand.  I love the 2-in-1 form factor of the Surface Book; the fact that I can draw UI prototypes on it, it’s power, and quite frankly, it’s looks.  But that same power exists in the MacBook Pro, and with the ability to compile OSX/iOS apps to boot.  It will legitimately be a tough decision for me.

My current smart phone is the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.  Beautiful phone.  Works great, and when paired with my Galaxy Gear VR, makes for a mighty fun entertainment platform.  And it’s great as a daily driver in the more professional aspects of my life.  But I honestly miss Windows Phone.  Say what you will about that; I honestly don’t care.  Windows Phone was secure, fast, beautiful to look at, had fantastic cameras (with a few notable exceptions), and the Live Tiles provided rapid access to information in a lightweight format.  Of course, it had a severe issue with lacking applications.  Microsoft, in my opinion, spent far too little on proper marketing for Windows Phone, and, quite frankly, took too long getting it out.  By the time they shipped it, the world had moved on to iOS and Android, and they were never realistically going to recover from the “Chicken and Egg” situation they’d gotten themselves in to with apps.

I never used Windows or Android phone because of any specific brand loyalty to Microsoft, Google, or Samsung.  I don’t love my Mac because of any specific brand loyalty to Apple.  These are tools in my life that are genuinely fantastic to work with, and I use them because they get things done for me.  They’re fun to use.  And they look great.  However, if Apple suddenly made an update to iOS where I could actually control my home screen beyond the background and moving apps I don’t want visible in to a “Crap” folder (can you say “application drawer”?), I’d be much more open to using that platform over Android or Windows.  If Apple introduced a touch screen Mac, then my decision on buying a MacBook Pro vs. a Surface Book would get significantly easier.  Apple.  Microsoft.  Google.  They all have things about them that are wonderful.  They all have things about them that drive me nuts.

That all said, I’ve always been amazed at the number of people that will settle on a single platform, and then take the stance that no one else can do it right.  That, to pick something other than what THEY suggest you buy, makes you an idiot.  Stupid.  Lacking in any kind of taste.  When did the phone you use, or the computer you work on, or the car you drive, get to be things that define the rest of you?  If I choose to use one smart phone over another, there’s probably a good reason for it, and if you ask me, I’ll tell you.  If I choose to drive a certain car, there’s probably a reason for it, and I’ll explain it to you.  But I can assure that I’m not going to call you out for using a flip-phone or a Blackberry in today’s world.  I’m not going to judge you for trying to code on a Chromebook.  I assume you have your reasons.  I simply think that we should all act this way, and let everyone use the tool that works best for them.

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