Every Device is Different, So Treat Them That Way

Since returning home to iOS from my brief affair with the Android OS and Google's suite of web services, I have decide to take a different approach this time around and truly tailor my devices for specific purposes. As an owner of an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air, one could easily point their finger at me and accuse of me of being an Apple "fanboy". That wouldn't be far from the truth. I love my Apple products and I've never been one to hide my adoration for the company. But there is more to me than just being a fan. I love the fact that Apple has a device to suit my every need as it relates to my situation and context. 

At heart, I am a minimalist. I don't like clutter. I don't like having things in my life that don't serve a specific purpose or in some way improve my quality of life. 12 months ago, I was beginning to feel the overbearing weight of managing an obscene amount of devices whether they be phones, tablets, laptops or even accessories. It was way more than what I needed. It was way more than anyone needed. But the lure of new tech is sometimes too much for someone with my passion for technology to bear. I was in over my head and something had to be done. I decided to go to extremes. I would use one device for all my needs. So I walked into my local AT&T store and walked out with a Galaxy Note 3. Yes, this would be the one device that would help downsize my tech addiction and offer me freedom from the self inflicted headaches that arose from trying to stay on top of all the latest and greatest from all the mobile computing platforms. I would learn to use this Note 3 to the fullest and eventually, as I checked off the boxes of what I needed this device to do, I would be able to sell off all my old gear. Yes, perhaps even my Apple stuff. 

I gave it a shot. I truly did. But I found that the more I tried to make it work, the more I realized that there already existed a lineup of products that did exactly what I was trying to force this phablet to do. There was already an ecosystem in place for me and it has already proven itself to be more than capable of getting the job done. So enough already. With the recent release of Mavericks for OSX and the purchase of a new iPad Air and iPhone 5S, I have decided to set all my devices up as new devices and truly define what the role of each device is and how it will fit into my life moving forward. 

How am I doing this? Let me further explain. The first thing I needed to do was decide how, when and where I would be using each device. The second thing I needed to decide was what apps needed to be installed in order for the device to be as effective as possible at fulfilling it's purpose. And finally, I needed to tailor the notification settings for each of these installed apps to avoid unwanted distraction. So I got to work. 

My MacBook Air is a workhorse. I use it every morning in a series of repetitive tasks that help me get a handle on the day ahead. Processing emails, setting up my itinerary, managing my project lists and working through some rich formulated spreadsheets are things that can possibly be done on other devices but they are performed quicker and easier on a full screen device that offers a full keyboard and task switching capabilities. Aside from work, managing my website and editing and uploading podcasts are also responsibilities I have that are made easier with the power of a laptop computer and desktop grade processing power. Finally, managing local media such as purchased/downloaded music, movies and tv shows as well as handling the sharing and uploading of photo albums is much easier to do on a laptop running a desktop operating system. I have just a couple dozen apps and utilities installed on my MacBook Air and almost all notifications have been disabled.

My iPad for me is mainly a content consumption device. I browse, I read, I watch and I play on this device. So the apps I install are mostly for leisure. But aside from that, it can be a tremendously useful productivity tool when on the go or you are in a place where the space available to you is not laptop friendly. So I do keep a few productivity apps accessible on this device as well. For instance, as I write this, I am patiently waiting for my neighborhood tire dealer to rotate the tires on my pickup. But when this post is done, I can easily find a book to read or a game to play to kill some time as I continue to wait. I set up notifications differently on my iPad then I do on other devices. I turn all sounds and banner alerts on. However, badges and all Notification Center events have been disabled. As I am working or playing on my iPad, I will get the audio alert and the banner notification. If it is worth acting on, I will. Otherwise, when the banner is gone, so is the notification. It's a great system and it avoids the hassle of having to clean up your Notification Center feed on multiple devices.  

Finally, there is the iPhone. Yes, the device that is always with you. I install all apps that I need to have access to at any given time. I turn on notifications in the form of alerts, banners and badges for apps that provide me with useful or relative information that I want instantly. I use Notification Center as kind of a mobile computing task list. Emails, stock alerts, messages, tweets, todos and calendar events make up the majority of this notification feed. The iPhone is always connected and in my line of work, I always need to be connected as well. No other device sees the use and abuse that my iPhone does. 

So there you have it. These devices work together in the ways that I need them to but they also stand alone in terms of their designated purpose. Sure, there may be a little overlap. But at the end of the day, it's about having the best tool for the job. Every device I own now has a designated purpose. The roles of these devices could change in time as their capabilities change, my needs change or perhaps as a new wave of wearable devices are introduced. But for now, I like how every device is different, and I feel I have the best experience when I treat them that way.