Quitting the five tech giants: Could you abstain from Apple?

This is it. Our fifth and final day looking at quitting the tech giants. So how did you do? Are you sticking it out with the Big Five, or will you dump any and go it on your own?
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

Welcome to the final day of our series about quitting the Big Five. We started the week looking at abandoning Amazon. Then we looked at fleeing Facebook and saying goodbye to Google. Yesterday, we explored whether it's possible to manage without Microsoft. Today, it's Apple. How far from the tree can you get?

I'm basing my series on a project running on Gizmodo. Reporter Kashmir Hill attempted to quit Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, one each week.

The full series:

I'm not as brave as Ms. Hill. I'm not stopping any services. Instead, each day this week, I'm looking at one of the Big Five to let you know how far I think I could go in quitting (or how locked in I am).

Abstaining from Apple

Ms. Hill described her week without Apple products as devastating. To her, Apple products are the gateway to the internet. But what about me? Could I give up Apple?

Here's the thing. No. Let me be clear: this isn't a fanboy thing. Apple annoys the heck out of me. I find the Finder (the main interface to Apple files) primitive. And I can't understand why Apple hasn't updated their teeny-weeny icons in teeny-weeny folders on their iOS devices in nearly a decade.

But my productivity has improved hugely since I moved most of my daily workload to Apple. I work seven days a week. It's not ideal, but it's where I am right now. Any hour I regain is an hour for sleep or family. Any hour I lose is taken directly from my sleep or family.

Also: 5 productivity tips for iCloud users TechRepublic 

So when I tell you that moving from Premiere Pro to Final Cut Pro X saved me three days every two weeks, you can begin to understand how huge that was. Premiere was a constant nightmare. Final Cut is annoying, but I get my work done in a tremendous fraction of the time. Regaining almost a full week each month is more than enough to justify choosing one platform over another.

There's a lot of that, for me. There are a bunch of little apps that save me time on the Mac that just don't exist on Windows. Together, they probably save me another day or two a month of time. So while I'm very comfortable with Windows (and almost equally as much with Linux), it's the applications I use, which are on macOS, that make the Mac mission critical.

Then, there's the ecosystem. I'm still using my iPhone 6s Plus, three years on. In smartphone years, that's like half a lifetime. But it just works. Yes, the battery is dying a little quicker, but everything just plain works.

One of the biggest wins is how the iPhone ties into my Apple Watch. This, too, is another productivity bump. I use the Camera app on the Apple Watch when filming video, because it allows me to easily see what's in the viewfinder of my phone. I could use a second phone or link two Android devices together, but the convenience of looking at my watch to check the framing of a shot is considerable, plus I don't need to figure out how to hide another phone on the set.

Also: How Apple Watch saved my life 

The Watch has proven to be a big win in other ways. Just keeping me in touch and able to quickly check messages has saved time on busy days. Instead of digging for my phone every time there's a bing, a quick glance at the Watch tells me whether I need to stop what I'm doing, or deal with it later.

I also have a CarPlay receiver installed in my car. While getting it installed was a nightmare and it was far more expensive than it should have been, using CarPlay is generally a big win. Navigating is surprisingly great. I moved from Spotify to Apple Music so I can ask Siri to play specific genres or artists. The device adds a lot to the driving experience.

Could I quit Apple?

So, could I dump Apple? If I wanted to lose more than a week a month in added workload, maybe. But why would I?

I'm just grateful that despite all the issues with new Mac availability, all the walled garden aspects of the Apple world, and the added expense of it all, I'm able to gain some time. Frankly, one of the key secrets to how I keep up with my workload is that I'm using Apple products to save time.

Wrapping it all up

Kashmir Hill wrapped up her five week experiment in cutting out the Big Five by living a week without all of them. Better her than me.

When I consider the Big Five tech giants and where they are in my life, here's how I boil it down:

  • Amazon: convenience and making things easier
  • Facebook: connecting with my audience and learning about my town
  • Google: everything mission critical, especially email
  • Microsoft: Windows and PowerPoint are key for work projects
  • Apple: Saves me at least a week a month, plus a tightly integrated ecosystem that just works (mostly).

Rather than quitting the Big Five, I've spent the last five years further and further embracing them. By doing so, I've lost some privacy (and probably lost some of my soul). But I've gained productivity, convenience, and even some of that most illusive of resources: time.

So would I consider giving up the Big Five? No. I actually greatly value Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple.

Also: Apple's enterprise app war with Facebook, Google could aid Android in companies 

Since we don't live in a perfect world, I'll take all the help I can get. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple have definitely helped and I expect them to continue to add value to my life in the years to come.

As for Facebook, it's becoming a pox on humanity that I wish was never created. Be honest. You feel (even a little bit) the same way. You do, don't you? But live with it, we must.

What about you? Now that we've looked at the Big Five, which do you think you could give up? Could you abandon Amazon? Could you flee Facebook? Could you say goodbye to Google? Could you manage without Microsoft? Could you abstain from Apple? Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

Editorial standards