This is a small project I’ve had on the back burner for a while. I finally got my mess together this morning and got it done. It’s a summary of the web services I use because I needed to look at all of them objectively. I want to simplify and this gives me a way to objectively look at the benefits of using them, in hopes to slim down to simplify.
All in all, Microsoft provides a great service. Email storage is unlimited. Yes, unlimited. They offer cloud storage with OneDrive. OneDrive includes 7GB of space. They also offer document creation with an online Microsoft suite. You can use your desktop mail App with Outlook if you choose, though I’ve found it to be a bit troublesome at times. Microsoft’s draw here is the Xbox integration. If you’re on Xbox live, you’ve got access to all of the online services.
A couple of nice features of Outlook email is the storage. It’s truly unlimited and is super useful for a backup of email by just forwarding a copy to your outlook address. Microsoft also allows you to create aliases for other purposes. You can even change your primary email to an alias. I don’t know if there’s a limit. You can configure 3rd party emails with outlook and send from that email address.
Integration with iOS is easily configured. Outlook provides built in contact, calendar, and reminder syncing without any additional configuration. A nice touch here is that you can use the 3rd party email address on iOS. Unlike Gmail, Outlook won’t force your primary outlook email for the send address. Another nice feature is you can control how many days your email syncs on the device.
Yahoo’s service is pretty nice too. The online UI is pleasant and unlike Gmail, Outlook, or even iCloud, you don’t reload a brand new page to access a different service. Everything is under one webpage. In sum, this is a nice product. Email storage is 1TB, not a GB, a TB. This is as good as unlimited. Yahoo’s big draw is Flickr.
Yahoo’s draw is the storage. 1TB is nothing to sneeze at. I don’t even have a 1TB external drive (I know, I’m a luddite). The draw here is speed. This interface is fast when you switch between services. It’s really great. You can use this with your desktop client… if you don’t mind POP. How 00s is that? Otherwise, you can create aliases and also add 3rd party email for sending and receiving.
iOS integration is very nice. It’s easy to set up. In addition to all the Microsoft provides, you also have access to notes. Notes are stored in Yahoo’s inbox, in a Notes folder. I don’t think that’s ideal, but it works.
Gmail… Gmail… Gmail. Gmail is pretty much the standard for everyone’s email. Google has provided a great service out of the gate and has always been more innovative than the competition. Historically, they’ve offered the best spam filtering, most storage, and most convenience. They laid down a good foundation for where they’re at now. Google’s services also include Plus. Plus integrates with photo storage similar to Flickr, though more socially driven. Google also has an office suite. In addition to this they have their own browser, so if you use that you’re tapping into resources not even thought of by the competition.
Email can be configured with your desktop client. Aliases are sort of available with Gmail, but really only through a Gmail hack created by Google. Adding a 3rd party email is a breeze, but you’re going to have to finagle to get it to send from that as a default on a desktop or iOS client. It’s automatic from Gmail’s apps.
Storage is a nominal 15GB. Which is really a lot of space, but when you compare it with Yahoo’s and Microsoft’s offerings, it’s no competition. Integration with iOS is the same as the others. It’s easy-peasy and takes no time to setup. There’s nothing extraordinary about its use.
Finally, we arrive at Apple’s offerings in iCloud. The major draw is the thorough integration with your Mac and/or iPhone. iCloud is tied in with iTunes… sooooo if you have iTunes, you have iCloud. Like the Microsoft and Google, you’re getting a full suite of services which includes document creation in Apple’s iWork suite.
The biggest annoyance for me about Apple’s service is the domain name changes they’ve had. I’ve been using the service since 2005, so I have a dotmac, dotme, and doticloud email address. Under one primary account. You cannot choose a primary, all iTunes emails go to the original you opened it under… it’s all very worrisome in a first-world sort of way.
The storage is something to talk about here… it’s paltry. Downright sad even. Apple gives you 5GB of storage. This is for everything from emails, documents, to yes, even iDevice backups. iCloud also backs up third party apps linked with the service. If it were for email alone then it would be mostly acceptable, but to include iCloud storage for everything else… well, you’re rocking the casbah of that 5GB pretty quickly.
Those two things aside, implementation is the main draw. Everything is seamless between Mac, iDevice, and web. You also get Find my iPhone, Keychain, Passbook, Photo, and Documents & Data. Anything that uses iCloud syncs smoothly from all of your devices. It’s really very nice. If you need extra storage, it’s not terribly expensive, but you’re shelling out a Jackson just to get up to Google’s 15GB. Oy vey. But again, integration is what gets you… sort of like having to have a G+ account in order to backup photos.
I have been wanting to write this for a while just to get a comparison of all the services I use. There are things that I really enjoy about each service that draws me to them like a moth to a flame, but the annoyances of each, now that I can look at them this way, outweigh the benefits.
The only email that sees action is Outlook and iCloud. Google’s Docs get some love, and I appreciate the services of Flickr, minus the social aspect. It’s a real disappointment to me that so many services require integration into the provider’s greater ecosystem. I’d love to have my Xbox login without having to carry the other services. I’d love to use Flickr without having to get a Yahoo mail. Google… well, Google is it’s own beast and there’s not enough I can complain about with them. But I have Google because after they killed Reader, Feedly was only working with Google for the sign in. Now that they have other services for integration, I can narrow another down.
In all, I have so many backup solutions that I think Flickr, and therefore Yahoo, can get the axe. That said, I’m excited to see what Yahoo has up its sleeve. I think Mayer is doing some good work there and I can’t wait to see where the service goes. Google can get the can now that Feedly has other services integrated. This is relieving. Outlook I think will stay for now, though I can see it getting the axe if I can figure out a way to keep all the crap I bought from Xbox available without deleting that sign-in.
I hope this info helps you like it helped me. Try to simplify if you’re a web service addict. Find the services you really enjoy and make the most of them. Don’t water them down with like providers just for the sake of loving one aspect (he said as he typed this into Google Docs on his Mac and emailed it to WordPress).