the tragic divorce - 8 reasons I still love Google

google maps saves the day
google maps saves the day
Being fond of a lot of products Apple have made has put me in a bit of an awkward position when it comes to Google. In the short time that the iPhone (and iPad for that matter) has existed, Google has been one of the main reasons it is so great to use.

I agree the Android thing that was clearly a knock off of iOS, but with the ensuing spoiling of the relationship I am left feeling like a child whose parents have just been divorced. And while none of the parents will say it directly, one feels like he has to pick sides, has to determine who was to blame, and has to pledge allegiance to one of the parents.

But at times I get to sit still long enough to think through some of my feelings and I have come to a conclusion that deep in my heart, I still love both parents and wish that they would get back together.

As part of the healing process, I am going to declare some of the things I love the most about Google.

1. Search.
I actually started using Bing recently as my hard and calloused heart tried to shut out the hurt of seeing the Google logo every time I needed to do a search. It was like seeing pictures of Dad on your wall after you found out he cheated on Mum and left her for his 17 year old secretary (note to people that know me; my Dad never did that.) My experiment with Bing was going ok for a while. It certainly wasn't "better" than Google, but I thought it would suffice. Then one day I was wanting to go see a movie. I search "movies geraldton" as I always do, but instead of being presented with a list of movies playing at my local cinema and the times they were showing, I was given a standard search result page that may or may not have sent me to a web page with the desired information. I didn't hang around to find out. I changed the default search on my iPhone and humbly admitted that Google was still number 1 for search.

2. Google maps.
I know every tech company with a market cap over 10 billion has their own maps these days, but Google still works best. And the biggest asset they have that no-one is going to replicate in a hurry is STREET VIEW. I was looking for the name of an old friend's fruit orchard in a small town called Northampton. She grows the best organic oranges, mandarines and lemonades (like a sweet lemon). It's a town with about 25 people 50k's north of Geraldton, one of the most isolated cities in the most sparsely populated state in Australia. But sure enough, Google had been there, taken a great photo of their sign out the front (it was called Carobbean Orchards) and I was forced yet again to thank Google in my heart for their free yet very useful service. Who else would even bother to do something like this unless they could work out how to monetize it first.

3. Gmail.
I logged into my old hotmail account the other day. It had finally been updated to an interface that a human being might actually want to use. Too bad they are 10 years too late. Other than Gmail's user friendliness, the idea of just archiving everything and searching for it has stuck on me. I don't even bother to tag much these days. Things just get archived when I've dealt with them, and if I ever need to find it again, I search away and find it. It's way easier than trying to remember if I filed it under "work" or "photo" or "work photo". Apparently Gmail has ads, but I don't even see them. I doubt they make much money on this service.

4. Blogger.
I'm using it right now. I like it.

5. Youtube.
I know Google bought it, not started it. But they had the balls to pay a lot for it ($1.65bill) back then while others where thinking they must have too much money and nothing to spend it on. With hindsight now, every other large tech company would wish they had been the ones to grab Youtube. And it gets better and better. I use Youtube to park my family videos to share with the grandparents, or just as a way of archiving all that footage I don't feel like leaving on my hard disks.

6. Chrome.
I like some of the new features Safari has in it's browser on OS X, but Chrome really was a blessing for so long. It was, and still is, so far ahead of Internet Explorer and many others, and so much faster, that it has become something of a standard. I haven't really used it much on my iPhone or iPad due to iOS's inability to set it as the default browser. I wonder if "anti-trust" issues will ever arise because of this.

7. Adwords, Adsense, Google Analytics
I know these should be seen as separate services, but essentially why I bunch them together is they make it easy for the "not very" technical person to make ads to sell their products, display ads to earn a few bucks from their sites, or measure the traffic their site receives without to much hard work. I realise this is how Google actually make all their money and there is nothing altruistic about it, but I value it all the same.

8. Driverless cars.
Every time you read about someone dying in a car accident caused by drunk drivers, texting drivers, asleep drivers, incompetent drivers or drivers who choke on their Big Mac while laughing at a joke on the latest John Gruber podcast... remind yourself of this one thing: there is a world coming where this will never happen, and Google are working hard NOW to make that world a reality.

Google cop a lot of flack for their services that end up being a flop, but what I see with Google is a company that is humble enough to say "Hey, we can't predict the future, so we're gonna have a go at a whole range of things and some of them will stick and others won't and we'll kill them". A company like Apple has a reputation for doing things perfectly or not at all. While it feels great to use their products, it could stifle some of the risk taking in the company. Who knows what awesome products we will never get to use because someone at Apple thought they weren't perfect.

So thank you Google for everything. I forgive you for Android and maybe one day I might even buy a Nexus 7. I hope you and Apple can work things out and do what's best for the kids.

PS I also like Google desktop, Sketch-up, Calendar,  Cloud Print, Google Alerts, Google News, Google Fibre,  Google Earth and Feedburner.