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What I learned using only Google products

Here are 10 shocking things I learned using only a Chromebook Pixel, Nexus 10, Nexus 4 and all-Google software and services.

May 25, 2013 07:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Mobile technology is like language. You learn it best through total immersion.

As a former Windows and current Apple user, I wanted to understand the full Google platform experience firsthand. So I went all-in.

Sure, I've used Android devices and even a Chromebook casually before. But I never tried to rely on them full time.

Boy, did I learn a lot about Google (and Apple). And my opinions on many things have changed. I'm going to tell you the 10 shocking things I learned and how my mobile computing buying and usage have been transformed.

The experiment

When I started, I packed away my MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone and used a Chromebook Pixel, Nexus 10 and Nexus 4 exclusively, which at my request Google loaned to me for the duration.

I initially intended to do the full diet for a month, but I dropped and broke the Nexus 4 a few days ago. So it turned into a three-week experiment.

I switched from Evernote to Keep for notes, from Apple's Pages to Google Docs for writing, from Dropbox to Google Drive for cloud storage, from Mailbox to the Gmail app for email, from a variety of Mac photo-editing applications to Google+ for photo editing, and from a wide range of apps on the iPhone and iPad to versions made by Google.

I was already a primary user but became an exclusive user of Gmail, Search, Google+, Calendar, YouTube, Latitude, Alerts, Chrome, Voice, Now, Hangouts and (with sadness) Reader, Google's RSS reader that will be discontinued July 1.

Within my experiment, I also embarked on a Google Now diet -- everything you can do with Now I forced myself to do with Now instead of alternatives -- actions like launching Apps on the phone, getting navigation, getting the weather, searching the web and so on.

The 10 shocking things I learned using Google exclusively

1. The Chromebook Pixel is a joy to use. The Pixel both boots and shuts down in a couple of seconds. Everything is in the cloud, so there's nothing to manage or configure or hunt down.

The screen, keyboard, touchpad, sound system and clamshell build are all very good. Still, the Pixel is generally slower and less polished than using a MacBook Pro. Performance is determined to a much larger extent by bandwidth speed.

People think it would be too limiting or confining, but it's far less so than I imagined. I could -- I did -- easily function using nothing but a Pixel as my main computer.

The Pixel is a great main computer for a wide range of people, from C-level executives to everyday businesspeople who want simplicity above all. And it's a perfect secondary computer for even power users.

2. All-cloud computing is better. I've long been a cloud-computing skeptic, but living in the cloud for three weeks has changed my opinion. Like most users, I've used a mixture of cloud and non-cloud.

Dispensing with the non-cloud activity is liberating and reassuring, knowing that the device can be lost, stolen or broken and work can continue on any other machine without a loss of data.

3. Retina-quality displays are wonderful. After using the Pixel's incredible, 239 pixels-per-inch screen, I will never again buy ordinary pixel densities on any device. My 110 pixels-per-inch MacBook Pro screen looks terrible to me now.



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