I have to admit I am heavily invested in using the Google Ecosystem, I use an android phone with the Google play store(currently the One Plus One CM11S), I use Hangouts when I am traveling to keep in touch with my family, Google translate for some basic words, Google maps and so on. But when I knew my internship was confirmed I realized, hey Google does not work in China or at least not without a work around.
So I started thinking how do I move everything outside from the Google services to another Cloud service. Another solution was to use a vpn the whole time. But China is cracking down on VPNs and most of them are not so stable. I do use Expressvpn which fortunately works in China. But I think it’s just easier and better for the future in case I ever change ecosystems. You can get a 30 days using my sign up link.
Calendar: The Calendar of Google is awesome its simple and does not need any knowledge just select the dates, invite the people ,add the location and its done. And the most convenient about this was that the app is cross platform.
So I started to look around for an alternative and found Sunrise. I used Sunrise before but lost interest since Google updated their calendar.But i decided to give it a second chance and I have to say Sunrise is awesome it has cross-platform apps, syncs with other calendars so I let it sync with my icloud and my Google agenda. And the most awesome part are the plugins. They have plugins for Google Tasks, Evernote, Facebook, Eventbrite and Foursquare. I love the Evernote and Foursquare plugins it’s so useful to see where you have been some days at what time if you don’t have a calendar event for that day. Also their suggested calendars are very useful. I can easily check the public holidays or when the next episode of Game of Thrones is released
Google Keep: Its minimal, so minimal and that’s why its awesome. Just write down the note and that’s it.
But since i switched to Evernote I cannot change back to Google Keep again, the tasks, the reminders, the different notebooks everything is convenient. And just saves me a lot of time and thoughts. I even write down my costs instead of writing it in Excel.
Google Maps: I admit I cheated I kept using Google Maps in the beginning I just downloaded the offline maps of the Cities I am in China but then I discovered Baidu Maps. If you are familiar with icons you can use this app without understanding any Mandarin. It so useful you just enter the destination, choose the way of transport and youre ready to go. it even shows you which busses you need to take.
Google Play is easy to replace because there are many alternative app stores available but i chose the Mi Market which originates from Xiaomi.
Xiaomi has recruited many people that had a lot of experience in the industry. From apple , microsoft and Google. The Current vice president they even recruited directly from Android where he had the same position. Xiaomi is a big player in China and also in the world.
When writing this article it is the 3rd largest cellphone maker in the world. For the moment they have only launched in the Asian market but announced that they will offer their accessorizes in Europe and America. Describing them as a cellphone company is no longer correct they are better fitted as an Internet of Things company.
Google Hangouts: the app could have been easily replaced by Whats app but it’s more convenient to use Wechat. Wechat is a Chinese made chat that is very similar to Whatsapp but is enormously popular in China and Asia.
It’s slowly getting a foothold outside of that. Its owned by Tencent worlds 4th largest internet company. And it’s just like Hangouts Whatsapp and Messenger Merged but with a sense of privacy. The Messages you send are not stored into the cloud so if you don’t back them up and lose your phone you will not able to retrieve them. and for the sms part I just replaced it with the default messenger app because Hangouts recently started freezing in China.
Because it’s not always as easy to get a Taxi, especially in Hangzhou i use Uber. you have a lot of different transport option in Uber including boats. I will write an article later dedicated to using Uber in China.
And finally instead of watching Netflix and YouTube i watch Youku. Youku is a Chinese streaming website where you can watch user generated content but also movies and tv shows. The Great part of this that most English movies and Tv Shows on Youku are free. They also have a VIP zone which allows you to watch movies that are currently playing in the cinemas and let you watch advertising free.
Funny part about Google Services in China are that most of them are blocked but somehow i still can see Google adwords working on some websites.