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social features as a catalyst for digital media migration and freedom

I'm sharing my story of bifurcated media management in the hopes that anyone else who is brave enough to migrate away from Apple multimedia software will find some useful tips.

tl:dr; After years of dividing my digital life into Apple software for media and Google software for productivity, I'm migrating (almost) everything to Google, reaping the benefits of social and liberation features that Apple lacks.

I've been using Apple software to store, manage and present my digital media for a little less than a decade.  I was an early adopter of iPhoto and iTunes and have mostly happy living a bifurcated digital life with all multimedia (photos, music, videos) primarily stored on a single Mac with on-demand export to Google services when I wanted to share something with others.  This made sense because Apple software had a laser focus on ease of use and beauty of local presentation.  Google software (picasa, youtube) enabled me to share the media with others via the cloud when appropriate and Apple software allows for piecemeal export of items.

of TVs, phones and tablets
Apple and Google both make non-PC products that provide great access to data while not sitting at a traditional computer.  Google's services are mostly available for iOS, but the best experience and feature set is still on Android devices.

I use Android devices at work and home for all my non-media productivity needs like mail, docs, calendars, etc.  Now I feel the tension of living a bifurcated digital life.  My photos, videos and music are quite literally locked into iOS devices and I don't want to buy iOS and Android non-PC devices to have access to the best of both.

social changes everything
With the advent of G+, all of my photo usage is via Google now.  Photos don't even get presented locally any more, I'm always sharing them with friends and family.  They live on my Mac for just long enough to be extracted from a CF card and converted to JPG, then I interact with them via G+.

I've been using google music in order to have access to my music via web browser when away from my mac, but didn't make my purchases there because I needed the music to be on my iOS devices.  Google Music's social sharing features and yesterday's announcement of the Nexus Q makes for a really compelling set of features that outweigh the need to have every song I purchase on a iPod.

The desire to share multimedia experiences with others is forcing me away from Apple products and toward Google services.

the big migration
Migrating the DRM laden music from iTunes and the photos from iPhoto that were created before I started using Picasa to share stuff is painful.  It's going to take multiple hours and real wrist pain, but it's completely worth the effort. 

Music: iTunes allows you to bulk update every DRM-laden song your library to a DRM-free version that Google Music automatically uploads, for $0.30 per song.  The program is called: "iTunes Plus" and the ability to do this is buried deep in the iTunes interface. That worked out to about $50 for the quantity of music I previously purchased.  Bulk-upgrades don't always work, and I feel bad for anyone that has to click hundreds of "Buy" buttons to work around Apple's bulk upgrade bug.  All my future music purchases will be through Google Music.

Photos: There is an iPhoto plugin for Picasaweb that allows you to export photos on a per album basis.  You can choose to export full-size images or 1600px max images to cut down on storage size.  With Google Drive, there are really reasonable storage options that should be able to handle even the heftiest of photo libraries.  If I want to avoid this export step in the future, I can upload photos from my camera SD card, directly to G+ and edit them using Picknik.

Videos: With so much of the video storage and management experience requiring heavy, low-latency computation, iMovie is still the defacto place for my camcorder files before they are edited and uploaded to G+ or Youtube to share with others.  See the section below for thoughts on how this might change.

remnants and looking toward the future
I still need a Mac in order to interface with devices that are not completely cloud-compatible.  My garmin watch requires Mac software.  I still need a tiny iPod to use while running (the phone is just too bulky) and that can't get data from any cloud. I'll reluctantly keep a mac around for these purposes, but Chrome is still the primary application I run with it.

I still need iMovie to edit movies, but there is no longer a need to purchase media using iTunes.  Making a cloud-based, full-featured video editor seems feasible, but probably one of the most significant unsolved HTML5 challenges around. I still prefer to edit photos in iPhoto, but that also seems like something that will change in the near future with Google's continued emphasis on user interface quality and the ever-expanding feature set of G+ photos.

a quick note about freedom
While hand migrating all of this data away from Apple software toward Google services, I'm reminded of one very important feature of Google's offerings that I hope to never need, but that I'm glad exists.  Google makes it feasible and easy to takeout all of your data in the most elemental format.  If a different service were to be created in 5 years that surpases Google's offerings, I rest very assured that I will be able to use that service without having to fight for my own data.
Paul Tucker's profile photoVadim Kitiashvili's profile photo
Thanks for posting your experience.  Re. G. music portability, I didn't find it for a while, but there's an option to sync all of your Google music purchases to your home computer drive (no DRM).  This makes them available to iTunes, Sonos and anything else that can read files on your LAN. (Once on disk they look like ripped CDs and iTunes will allow upload to e.g. iPods.)  This is different from the "2 time only" download option on each track, and is instead a feature of the Music Manager app.
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