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Great Samsung Phones Problematic in a Mac Environment

by Kerry Dawson


The Samsung S21 Ultra has arrived to market accompanied by outstanding reviews. There is no question, this is a stunning device especially the Phantom black and it is loaded with features. However, if you work in a Mac environment, although a lot of software is cross platform (runs and syncs from Android to Apple) there is significant software that does not meet this criteria. No matter how good the phone is, software can dramatically till your workflow and productivity. The hype that is being attended The S21 Ultra often fails to point this out. You could be in for a very rude awakening.

Cross Platform Software and its Importance


I have run DEVONthink Pro and Omnifocus plus some other software that is not cross platform for quite some time. I have used both of these products for a very long time and they are important to me. Since they are not cross platform, you might as well accept that you won’t be able to use the apps on your $1649 smartphone.

There are products similar to the above that are cross platform. I could use those instead. However, I have a lot of time invested in these products specifically.

In the case of DEVONthink Pro more specifically, I have years of data that I’ve captured in that product. DEVONthink Pro Office is not an easy platform to learn and disregarding it involves a price. I use DEVONthink Pro Office very effectively and I also use it in conjunction with OmniFocus the two of which make an incredible productivity duo.

If I were to disregard these products just for the handset, any time I was to go to a store to discuss something related to some I purchased, I would have to remember to print out the product receipt I intend to deal with. So much for my paperless office but it can easily get worse.

If I arrive at the store with paper in hand but realize I need another document and it is stored in DEVONthink. I’m out of luck. I can run back to the house and get it or even worse, I could forget about the whole thing.

Negatively Impacting Workflow

The above is but one example of the way your workflow could be impacted. The costs here are not just of time and learning but may have to do with a completely new product that has to be dealt with. This scenario might not happen with just a product but could happen with an entire project.

s21 is Getting Reviews without Consideration to Software

The s21 and specifically the Ultra is a fantastic phone when you just look at it as a phone. I much prefer the in screen unlock touch over face-id especially during COVID. Even without COVID I prefer the Touch ID and would hope Apple would move to this.

Oddly though, in the reviews of the s21 very little if anything is mentioned about productivity software and software that has to sync across devices. Cross platform accomplishes this however, there is so much valuable software that is not cross platform.

If you buy the s21 Ultra depending on your workflow and the environment you work in, your productivity could be quickly affected. Reviewers might in saying you’re better off with the iPhone if you exist in an Apple environment but they quickly move on to how great the s21 is. It doesn’t take long to be brainwashed and then you’re out the door buying one.

There’s no question the s21 Ultra is an amazing phone. However, if it doesn’t fit into your workflow, it won’t take long until you run up against the cross platform obstacles.

As cross platform continues to evolve the this situation will become less of a problem. Choice is enhanced and with that flexibility. Yet, it is amazing how little attention is paid to the issue of software and software compatibility.

Being Aware

As long as reviewers look at the device in isolation, they see a fantastic looking unit. Yet, they also see a very expensive unit. However, although it delivers in isolation as a fantastic smartphone from a stunning display, a beautiful body and something that runs flawlessly, they may not seeing or identifying that your productivity could bite the dust. These days, software is where it’s at and it is the tool that delivers a solution. If the software is impeded as it is not cross platform, you may find yourself with a great phone that doesn’t deliver.

There is no question that most of the exciting software exists in the Apple environment currently. If you use Apple product and want complete flow through the software has to be cross platform. Fortunately, a lot of software is cross platform.

However, what if you use apps that aren’t cross platform and never will be. If these reviewers are not identifiying the issue you might easily by the s21 ultra completly based on the wrong assumptions.

Fortunately, most new software comes out on both platforms equally but not in all cases. Then there is the software that has been around for a long time. Products as mentioned like:

  • OmniFocus
  • DEVONthink
  • Notebooks
  • Keep It!
  • Diarly

and on it goes has no intention of becoming cross platform for a variety of reasons. Personally, I feel this is a mistake but it’s also a reality.

The issue then if you really want the s21 Ultra is does enough software exist that is cross platform or there are sufficiently good applications that can replace your app/s.

As an example, Evernote and Nimbus Note are cross platform and they are very powerful. Would these cut it in your workflow should you switch from DEVONthink. For many the answer would be yes but for some it would be a definite no. It’s important that this issue is presented front and center.

Samsung’s s21 Ultra is an amazing smartphone no question. Being aware though of the importance of software to productivity and how Android is currently impacted, only help in ensuring you have a positive experience as opposed to a negative one. I have little doubt you would be disappointed with the device as long as you’re aware of the implications of cross platform, software in your overall productivity and everything fits well.

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