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Cross Platform is not Quite There Yet

by Kerry Dawson

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Cross Platform, as it is being used here, refers to the ability to use an Android phone with its applications in a Mac environment. New applications always seem to come out for both Android and IOS making them cross platform. These apps can sync with your Mac and other devices. However, a number of high quality, older apps often do not port to Android. They might not feel there is money in such an undertaking or that it is too costly.

Further, most apps, especially of a high quality, all come out for the Apple environment first. Eventually you might see the odd one in the Android environment. Since our tools are all about the software that enables them, it’s important to have the right platform. At the moment, that is generally IOS but there are some limitations.

Cross Platform increases Choice

Using IOS means using Apple. Apple’s iPhones are high quality but they are expensive although that has changed somewhat. You still though are in to Apple’s ecosystem and their hardware.

Being able to use Android opens up a wealth of hardware options and user interfaces. Further, you have price differentiation broader than Apple can offer. However, if you don’t have the applications you need to do your work this choice is a detriment.

Software as the Driver of our Devices

Software is what enables us to do our work. If a certain set of software allows you to work effectively and efficiently that is what to use. This powers your workflow.

A solid example of this is Omnifocus which has been around for over ten years. People have invested many ours in learning how it works and have become quite accustomed to its workflow. The Omnigroup has no intention of porting this to Android. If you’ve use this software effectively for any number of years to give it up is possible for something out but it might be too much of a loss of productivity. Learning goes with it a cost.

DEVONthink, another highly regarded Notetaking app, is also only Apple and will never port to Android. There are a number of alternatives however, DEVONthink is considered one of the most power information/knowledge managers. Again it has been around for a number of years and if you learn its ins and outs you can be highly productive. Giving this up for an Android would probably, in the long run, be a mistake.

Then there are no, very innovative apps that appear on IOS first and maybe Android but maybe not. You might be cutting yourself out of a workflow that could be beneficial.

Cross Platform is essential but It’s not there Yet

Apple simply has too much power. Since applications are the drivers of what devices we use, the more software equally available on Android and IOS the more competitive the environment. Of course Apple doesn’t want this. However, an unbridled Apple could lead to power mismanagement which likely going on right now.

What does Apple really do for the North American economy when they build everything offshore. Their phones only five years ago cost $700-$800 Canadian. Now they are $1400 to $1550 at the top end. This is crazy for a phone. On top of that they encourage you scrap your phone yearly.

Cross platform does more than just dissipate the concentration of power. It involves choice of design. Possibly the iPhone design just doesn’t suit you. However, you to maintain your workflow will have to use an Apple product.

Cross Platform is getting there but There are too Many Deficiencies

Unfortunately, for many case scenarios cross platform isn’t there yet. Breaking out of the Apple ecosystem is very difficult the more you use Apple equipment. The concentration of wealth and power is not good for society, developers or users.

Greed promotes this. Apple might say they just want to give you a good product but their actions speak volumes. They want to control you in your use of a product from beginning to end. It’s your product but at times you’ll wonder if it is.

Robust cross platform is coming. It keeps growing. Android manufacturers have to be careful though. They cannot charge what Apple does as they can’t provide what Apple provides yet. The phones can be excellent but not if they’re priced the same as an iPhone. They’ll just give the whole market to Apple. At that point governments will have to step in and split Apple up and put restrictions on the company. If this does not happen the outcomes are too scary to ponder.

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2 comments

Chris Laarman January 16, 2021 - 7:58 am

Yes, Apple has an ecosystem. Being inside it is like ordering taxis, or maybe like having a road manager. You say where you want to go, and the rest is puzzled out for you.
The rest (no offense intended at all) has you choose your own means of transport, tweak it, find the way to your next destination. You may use everything that suits your needs, you may even beat the Apple taxi to that destination, but everything is up to /you/ to be done.

The choice is yours, you may want to select different means on different occasions, but don’t expect your cab driver to be a clone of yourself, and don’t expect your “rest” ecosystem to Get Things Done.
(By the way, there is at least one Omnifocus lookalike for Android, even data file compatible, but I can’t remember the name.)
The “higher-level” your aim, the less likely that cross-platform compatibility can be achieved.

Let me try another metaphor, less applicable than the above, but more Canadian. (I’m Dutch.)
> You may be able (with some knowledge and creativity) to translate poetry between English and French, but I doubt if “cross-platform” translating of poetry between English/French and Inuit languages may stand any chance.

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Kerry Dawson January 19, 2021 - 1:41 am

This is a very good point and if you are using mainly Apple it is easier just to keep everything in the ecosystem. However, one problem I’ve found in my practice which is becoming less of a problem is team work. Team members generally use an iPhone or Android. They need equal access to info. Fortunately solutions oriented to teams is cross platform. Office 365 is a very good example of this but there’s lot’s more. For the individual though the scenario is different and staying within one or the other ecosystem makes sense. A lot of new software is coming out though as cross platform. Notion would be an excellent example of this. I think think this trend will likely continue due to market forces. If you look at where we were at in the 90’s and where we are now it is night and day. Oh and the Omnifocus software you mention is FocusGTD and it is a nice product but nothing like Omni’s. Instead of using Omni though Ticktick or todoist are good options. I appreciate your input.

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