The Tech That Runs My Life

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read

Am I an Apple fanboy? God, I hope not! In the interest of figuring this out, I started to do a mental inventory of the tech and services from the big three tech companies (Apple, Google, and Microsoft) that I use to manage my life.

What I found was that while Apple does dominate the tech hardware in my life, it’s actually Google who owns most of my mission—critical services. I ultimately don’t know what this says about me and my technological loyalties, but I found it interesting to build this overview.

This is an extremely subjective list, and is only intended to spark conversation. What do you agree with? Which ones of these should I kick to the curb? Let me know!


OS X and iOS

These are my main operating systems, and they treat me well. I have a Windows 10 partition for those times when I need Windows (which is literally never in the past 5 years…I should just get rid of it) and an Android phone I dabble in Android from time to time, but for the work that I do, these are the best platforms for managing my digital life.

Apple Watch

I know that smart watches are a controversial product right now, but I adore them. And since I’m using an iPhone, it’s really my only option. I think a great many things about this product can get better, but I’m on board.

Apple Music

Curation, curation, curation. Apple Music does a better job of putting music in front of me that I want to listen to than any other music service I’ve used (and I’ve used them all).

iCloud Drive

This service does a lot. Photo Library, Notes, Reminders, and Keychain all run through this service. It also acts as a great way for apps with iOS and Mac versions to sync content between devices rather seamlessly.

I pay $2.99/month for 200GB of storage.


There is no better search engine out there. Period.

I totally understand using something else because you’re not comfortable with Google’s all-seeing eye, but no other search engine gets me the results I’m looking for as well as Google does.


There is no better email service out there, as far as I’m concerned. Their online interface is solid (although I hate the new optional Inbox interface) and sync works wonderfully across devices. Yes, they’re looking through my messages to serve ads, but I’m okay with it.

Calendar and Contact sync

I know that no matter what device I’m using, I’ll be able to sync my Google calendars and contacts to it. It’s also never burned me in the past, which is a huge deal.

Google Docs

This is more for work, but there doesn’t seem to be a better service for sharing documents between a bunch of people. Office is supposed to be good too, but I honestly don’t have enough experience with it to make the call. Google Docs is a little rough around the edges, but it gets the job done.

Google Photos

There are so many good things about Google’s still-new Photos service. Search is a killer feature, as the service “just knows” what’s in my pictures. Again, this is a little creepy, but it’s so useful.

Don’t worry though, I have all my RAW photos backed up independently from Google just in case.

A parade of temporary Android phones

I like to listen to podcasts as I fall asleep (weird and likely bad for my sleep, I know) and the cheap little Moto E is perfect for that. It’s basically a Pocket Casts device, and it does a great job of running that one app.

Additionally, I’ve used numerous flagship Android phones over the past 3 years to satisfy my curiosity with “the state of Android”. My favorite has been the HTC One M8, which is right up there with the iPhone 5S for my favorite smartphone design ever.


Outlook (iOS)

I really adore this app. It’s the only one that lets me keep up with all the email I get on a daily basis. It’s Apple Watch integration is fantastic, letting me process email from my wrist and filtering out things before I ever see them on my phone. Priority Inbox is a godsend too, separating out just the emails I actually want to see first.

And it’s free and supports basically every email service.

Windows 8 at work

I am waiting for the IT crew to let me upgrade this to Windows 10 ASAP. In the meantime, I’m enjoying windows snapping, which I don’t think I could do my job without.



Let me be the 10 millionth person to shout it from the rooftops: Slack is amazing for team communication. I work with about 30 other people and Slack is basically our only form of communication. Text messages, Twitter, email, and chat rooms all in one = drool.

And my god, the custom emoji are…well, let’s just say they’re something special.


You can run your entire life through this app if you want. I use it as a super-charged Reminders app, and it speaks to it’s quality that it is just as good at managing a big project as it is at reminding me to get a haircut every 4 weeks.


I don’t like to rely on Google for all my email, so I maintain a Fastmail account. My account expires in a few weeks, and I’m honestly considering letting it go.