/ givingupgoogle

Giving up Google: 3/x; Email and Productivity

The title is misleading, as one Google service I don't find realistic to give up is G Suite. How can someone who wants to give up Google use such a hypocritical service? Well...

Email

By 2018, personal email is an odd thing: we no longer have character limits on short message communications (iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, et al), and for the majority of personal messages email is less useful. That said, how else do I get all my Amazon receipts..? Email still has a place, and it is a commodity: it needs to work, and not need to be fixed. It needs to have a solid spam filter, and search function. GMail delivers all of these, but it's not the unique feature I want: that is Exchange ActiveSync.

Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync

WHAT? A Microsoft product on a blog post about giving up Google, where you don't actually give up Google..? CLICK BAIT. But wait: how do you get your email on your iPhone? (As one can guess, Android isn't an option.) The built-in GMail conduit? Or perhaps the GMail app? Do you set it up as POP..?

None of these are good options for me:

  • I like to use the default mail app, due to the integration and simplicity
  • I don't like the OS conduit, as it uses IMAP: IMAP uses, huge amounts of data compared to both POP and ActiveSync, which in turn, uses more battery. (Don't believe me? Do a PCAP of an ActiveSync session, POP session, and IMAP session.)
  • ActiveSync gives ~instant delivery of new email.

What about open source alternatives?

Given the above contraints, there aren't really any, but as Google have licensed Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync, surely some other providers must have? They have:

https://www.zimbra.com/

Zimbra is an open source alternative to Exchange, that includes EAS compatability, but here are the rubs:

  1. Hosting one's own email server.
  2. A loss of the G Suite office products.

Revisiting the reasons behind Giving up Google

As someone who uses the internet, I understand that it is almost impossible to benefit from it and remain anonymous: at some point the internet will know who you are, and what you're doing. The main reason is to diversify my digital assets, and help prevent Google from shaping my opinion of the world.

By continuing to use GMail, Google continue to get their paws on my data, but at least as someone who pays for G Suite, I don't see adverts. I do get a solid email service, with excellent spam filtering, and lightweight, push email.

Productivity

Google's rival to Microsoft's Office is a wonderful thing: they've put a lot of work into developing an excellent, browser-based (read: 0-install) office client. Sure, they can rummage through my data with their machine mind, but they're not touching the conclusions I come to, as their rummaging operates in read-only mode.

That said, this is Giving up Google. Microsoft's Excel client for iOS is cheap, and powerful. Apple's office suite is developing nicely, and has the beauty of seamless integration with iCloud. For anything less than complex number work, Numbers is great, and I'm sure will slowly rival Excel.

The productivity solution

It's a bit of a hot mess, really, but I'm happy with it. I primarily use Apple's products, but if collaboration is involved, I'll switch to Google's products. If bigger number work is involved, G Sheets is invaluable.

Cloud file storage

There are n+1 solutions for cloud file storage: Dropbox is well established, Apple have iCloud, and Google and Microsoft both have their Drive(s), and I use a mix of Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud. I haven't determined a pattern, however I don't overly like G Drive for file storage, for a reason I have yet to determine.

I do like, and have an affinity for Dropbox: I have the free version, but have ended up with about 35GB of storage in it. They have their Paper product (a simplistic text editor that really has a good selection of fancy features). They also have a good public track record of transparency, and not doing bad things with our data, with this exception.