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Staying in Control of the “Apple Ecosystem”

I’m sure you’ve already heard of the Apple ecosystem, all of their products working seamlessly together to create an easy and practical user experience. However, in my opinion, there is something as being too deep into the ecosystem and no longer being able to get out. All of a sudden you can go from owning an iPhone and a Mac to being tied into 3 different subscription services and owning everything on offer.

This is why I am making this post to give you some tips on how to stay in control of the famous Apple ecosystem while keeping things as simple as possible and even saving you some money!

What is the Apple Ecosystem, and How Does it Work?

To be able to stay in control, you first need to understand what the ecosystem is and how it works.

The Apple ecosystem is all of their products and services and how they work together to make you more productive and keep things simple. Apple has designed its products in a way that wants you to keep buying more and never buy from other companies. If you’re looking for earphones why not buy the AirPods because they connect instantly to your devices and allow to switch between them easily. If in the market for a laptop, get a Mac rather than a pc because you get all the benefits of staying with the same company.

Here are some of those benefits that make you want to stay with Apple:

– iMessage, probably one of the most important and adored features, allowing you to answer your texts from any of your Apple devices.

– Universal clipboard, giving you the possibility to copy anything on one device, and then past it on another like “magic”.

– Handoff, this feature lets you open up certain apps on your iPhone for example, then carry on where you left off on your iPad.

– Auto unlock, allowing you to unlock your Mac if you’re wearing your apple watch.

As you can see there are definitely benefits to being part of the Apple ecosystem, owning several devices, however, not all of these are necessary. This is why in this next section I’m going to tell which Apple devices are necessary for all users and even provide some alternatives that can save you some money.

Unnecessary Devices and Their Cheaper Alternatives

As I said before, some of Apple’s devices won’t be necessary for all users so here is a list of some of them.

– The iPad, whether or not to get an iPad is quite a difficult question because it can be used to replace a laptop, or work with a laptop depending on your needs. If you just need to answer emails, write some text, play a few games and do a bit of browsing then I recommend getting an iPad and then leaving the MacBook. If at any point you know that you’ll need to download software off the internet or require a lot of power for anything from music production to video editing then you’ll need a MacBook and the iPad then becomes an optional accessory.

– The iMac/Mac Pro, once again this all depends on how much power you need, a lot of people can get away with just using a Macbook then connecting it to a Monitor for more screen real estate. But if you know that you require that extra power that you get from a desktop then you’ll have to make the investment.

iMac, iPad and MacBook forming the Apple Ecosystem

– AirPods, these, in my opinion, are the easiest to replace because all you’ll be giving up is that animation when they connect to your devices, and the option to share audio. You can easily get some cheaper non-Apple wireless earbuds like the SONY WF-XB700, the Samsung Galaxy Buds and many more options that will probably save you money.

– Apple Tv, again very easy to replace, any smart tv box will do or even just a smart tv. You don’t need to spend the “Apple Tax” to stream Netflix and download apps on your Tv.

And finally the HomePod, now not only can you replace it but I even urge you not to buy it! Its competitors like the Amazon Alexa and Google Home have so many more features and cost a lot less. To name a few, the ability to use many different music streaming services (the HomePod only supports Apple music), the many more smart devices that are supported, the ability to connect smart hubs like Samsung smart things or Home assistant for endless automating and so much more.

HomePod, part of the Apple Ecosystem

That’s about it when it comes to devices, now let’s move on to what is in my opinion much more important, and that is subscription services.

Apple Ecosystem’s Subscription Services That Can Easily Be Replaced

As I’ve mentioned, the aim of the Apple ecosystem is simplicity and this is also reflected through its subscription services namely iCloud, Apple Music, News+, Apple Arcade,

Apple TV+ and the iPhone Upgrade Program. I’m going to go through each subscription give my opinion on how useful it is and if there is a cheaper and/or better alternative.

Let’s start with iCloud. If you didn’t know already, iCloud is a cloud storage service for all Apple users. You get 5GB of free storage and then you have to upgrade. You get 50GB for 0.99€/month, 200GB for 2.99€/month and 2TB for 9.99€/month.

Using iCloud allows you to back up your photos saving storage on your phone, and also allows you to back up documents to the cloud and access them from anywhere in the world.

In my opinion, it isn’t necessary to use iCloud because there are so many other cloud storage services available.

G Suite, an alternative to the Apple Ecosystem services

Although you will sacrifice a bit of simplicity I recommend using Google photos to back up all your photos, it’s 100% free and is very easy to use (however starting in June 2021, Photos will count towards your 15GB of Google Drive space). And for backing up documents I use Google Drive, you get 15GB of free storage (compared to 5GB with iCloud) and it is cheaper to upgrade if you pay annually (an option that Apple doesn’t offer). Once again it’s very easy to use and has an iOS app and website. It also integrates with GSuite for business and allows to use Google doc/sheets/slides wich auto-save to you Drive.

Next, let’s have a look at Apple Music. It allows to stream and download almost every song ever made for $10/month personally or $15/month for your family. Of course, there are quite a few streaming services out there, like Spotify for instants which is available on all devices (and works with all smart speakers), often argued to be better than Apple Music and is my personal favourite. So I recommend staying away from the ecosystem on this one.

Now let’s have a look at News+, for 9.99/month it gives you access to over 300 magazines and publications including a limited version of The Wall Street Journal, Wired, The New Yorker and many more. This is quite a unique and interesting service that can save you money if you really need a lot of media and have some existing subscriptions that are included in the plan.

Apple News app

Apple Arcade is also quite unique to Apple, it gets you access to a nice mix of new games and old classics but for casual Smartphone gamers there are so many free to play games available that it’s probably not worth its 4.99/month price.

Next is Apple Tv, I have had a chance to use this because of the free year that’s on offer with the purchase of an Apple product and for 4.99/month I don’t think it’s worth it yet, it simply doesn’t offer enough content to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu.

And finally, Apple offers an iPhone Upgrade Program that allows you to upgrade to the latest iPhone every year for 35€ to 67€/month. I have already written an article on how often we should be changing smartphone so please check it out if that interests you. I will say that I don’t recommend this plan, nobody needs to change phone every year, you only ever want to because Apple makes the new one look like its got a bunch of new technology so to help the environment, don’t!


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Scott Hickman

Founder of The Detechtor and host of The Detechtor Podcast | Techy | Politics enthusiast | Musician | Loves coffee ☕️

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