I'm not suggesting that Google is evil. What I am saying is, these products don't work for me and the reason they don't work is that they aren't interoperable with my own desktop software, or the rest of the Internet. I actually do use desktop calendaring software which will stop working this summer. I communicate with people via XMPP who are not on Talk. I used to use Listen and Reader. I'm only looking to migrate off Voice because it's not going to be available. I was pretty perturbed when all of a sudden, anyone I ever emailed appeared as a pre-approved contact on Talk.
So, it isn't about Google being evil or not. Google has a responsibility to its shareholders to make money, and I trust that they're trying to fulfill that mandate as well as possible. In doing so, they've shifted their portfolio of properties into a closed ecosystem that does not appeal to me as a consumer.
At this point, I imagine most alternatives suck because there's really no point in going up against free and awesome. Case in point: Reader. Reader really was awesome, and it had no competitors because no one would bother competing with it.
I imagine that as Google does offend more of its users, some competition might heat up, but I'm well aware that for most people, none of this matters in the slightest. It's a narrow cross section of geeks who notice or understand any of this.
> I actually do use desktop calendaring software which will stop working this summer.
What's the software? Google CalDAV support isn't actually going away, it's just switching to a whitelist, so depending on your client, it should be fine. I don't know how that's going to work exactly (is it just an API key? how will that work with open source calendaring software like Lightning?), but if it's even moderately actively maintained software, it's likely that they've already applied for access.
> Google started by dropping XMPP invites under the questionable guise of spam protection (from the article)
Just FYI, they turned federation back on shortly afterwards. Of course, it's being dropped for the new chat system, but it's worth getting that right.
> Fastmail is owned by Opera Software and operates both free and paid tiers of service
As others have pointed out, there is no free tier, just a free trial. And if you're going to pay for it, I don't really see the difference between that and going full Google Apps, but that's just me. (edit: ah, apparently there used to be a free tier, but no longer)
Regardless, paying for the services you use is a good thing, both for getting better guarantees for service, and for teaching the market that ad-supported services aren't the end-all be-all, that we can have other business models, and maybe even a diverse market of them to support different uses and different requirements.
Speaking as someone who uses Google Apps for personal email, it sucks. I hate having a google apps managed account under my personal email address (my primary google account is a gmail address), I hate the limited filtering options that Gmail provides, I hate the faux-IMAP layer that Gmail has, I hate the fact that every time I switch networks with my laptop I get a "too many simultaneous connections" error from the Gmail IMAP server, and I hate many more things about this.
So many thanks to Ken for finding what appears to be a good alternative. Time to convince my family to switch email providers.
The software is KDE (Akonadi), Thunderbird (Lightning), and a few small utilities. It seems probable, though not guaranteed that Lightning will keep working. But I don't want to bed the farm on that, I doubt KDE will be supported, and I'd really rather just use a calendar that faithfully implements the standard instead of whitelisting the standard for certain clients.
In terms of XMPP, I checked yesterday. After updating the Android Talk app to Hangouts, all of my XMPP contacts disappeared.
In terms of email, using Google Apps on a custom domain would avoid lockin and actually not be a bad choice, at least for now. I went with Fastmail anyway, and I think it's just a better service.
I have to disagree on the whitelisting as breaking an implementation of a standard; nothing in a standard like that requires it be universally accessible...you're already authenticating to get the CalDAV data in the first place, for instance. Whitelisting clients is not really different and is quite common, though I'm not sure if Google ever gave an explanation other than "our API is totally awesome", which is not much of one. I definitely do understand reluctance to depend on future support because of reasoning like that, however.
For XMPP, it's the Hangouts app that I was referring to as the "new chat system". Federation for regular google talk was turned back on, but you'll need a third party XMPP client now, I guess. Fortunately they're quite common.
> I actually do use desktop calendaring software which
> will stop working this summer.
Which software is that? If it's currently working with Gmail's CalDAV support, then it ought to continue working into the future. Google is not dropping support for CalDAV.
> I communicate with people via XMPP who are not on Talk.
This also ought to continue working. Talk is still based on XMPP, and server federation is still working.
If Google actually does shut down support for either of these open protocols, feel free to object as much as possible. I'll be right there beside you. But right now you're jumping from "Google might possibly drop support at some indeterminate point in the future" to "Google will definitely drop support in a month", which is not supported by evidence.
> In some ways, they already have. To the best of my
> knowledge, you can no longer obtain the Google Talk
> Android app from the Play Store anymore. It has been
> replaced by the Hangouts app.
That's not the same as shutting down support. The Gmail app doesn't use IMAP, but you can still connect to Gmail with any IMAP client.
> Sure, you can use a third party XMPP client on Android,
> but the writing is on the wall here.
That's like saying that google.com is going to drop support for HTTP because Chrome has support for SPDY.
You're complaining about Google doing something bad before Google has announced any intention to do it. If Google actually does drop support for XMPP -- that is, if they announce one day that people will no longer be able to chat with federated servers from a standalone XMPP client -- then go wild.
I think you're under the impression that I am more emotionally-involved here than I actually am. I'm not particularly upset about Google's actions. It is what it is.
My last sentence kind of expresses my whole point: "the writing is on the wall". I think that what's left of their XMPP support will be phased out sooner rather than later as everyone jumps ship to the new platform.
That they terminated their app (Google Talk) on their leading platform speaks volumes about where XMPP is going.
To add fuel to the fire, I think Google Voice as we know it is going away, too. :) I can't see how they're generating worthwhile profits on it.
Thanks for the post. What're you doing about Listen? I've been happily using it even after they've discontinued it. But I assume it'll stop working for good once Reader is shut down. I've seen other Podcast apps on my friends' phones who weren't "grandfathered" into Listen, and I'm not impressed.