applications best of browser facebook gaming google hardware iPad mobile phones movies music social social networking Twitter web apps web2.0: 2010 Android angry birds app of the year apps best of chrome facebook game of the year google google voice grooveshark hulu hulu plus iOS iPad iTunes movie of the year netflix pandora technology The Social Network web apps worst of
Best of 2010:
My ‘Best of’ list may help you save a few bucks next year, be more (or less) productive, or just keep you busy clicking links for a while.
I take it everywhere. It’s my GPS, MP3 player and radio while I drive. It’s my pencil and paper at work, it’s my computer of choice, even if it’s not capable of everything I need at all times. My top uses and apps:
- Safari: Email and web surfing (including Facebook, Google Docs, and Google Voice)
- Netflix, YouTube, VLC Media Player, and TED Talks for video video video
- Twitter, Flipboard and Newsy for news
- Pages, Evernote, and Keynote for word processing and work
- Pandora and Clock Radio for music
- Sketchbook Pro and Adobe Ideas for drawing
- Kindle for reading
- GPS Drive HD and Maps for driving and directions
- Skype (with subscription) for phone calls
All around app: Google Voice
This app is totally free (used in a browser) and has saved me $15 a month in texting fees by routing the SMS texts thru my email and data plan on my phone. I can also use the Google Voice app on my Blackberry to send or receive texts if I wish. I get my voicemail transcripts in email to read when I can’t take a call. It’s a game changer for saving money.
Biggest Surprise: Google Chrome
The most secure browser out there and perhaps the fastest one too. I now know why they made this little browser into it’s own operating system. I’m already living in it. Customize it with extensions and without the (Firefox) lag. Here’s a few I like:
- Google Voice – get notified and answer texts without leaving your tab
- Google Tasks – a to do list
- Google URL Shortener – keep it short, tweet from there
Everyone uses Pandora. The fact that it’s on every device I own makes it ultimately useful at all times. Gooveshark is another great web app where you can actually listen to the songs you want. I’m not sure how they are making this happen since it seems to be peer to peer (P2P) sharing. Make a playlist, listen to whole albums, Tweet a song with a tiny URL… all for free! Sorry iPad users, this puppy uses (ugh) Flash.
I cancelled my cable bill this year and saved a bundle with Netflix on my Wii, iPad, and laptop. The streaming library is ever increasing and if you like TV, are willing to give up new content full of commercials, this is your last stop. My favorites:
- Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe (yes, I’m a sci-fi dork) – all seasons
- South Park – seasons 1-12
- Firefly, Dollhouse, and Buffy (the Whedon trilogy) – all seasons
- For the kids: Spongebob, Fairly Oddparents, and Invader Zim (ok, those are for me)
Although I don’t own a device running Android, the fact that I want one so badly is proof that the fastest selling mobile OS on the market kicks ass. It has a huge development team, an open system, and took Linux from being a joke (sorry Linus) to what could end up being the most widely distributed OS of our time.
Worst of 2010:
Devices: Google TV / Apple TV
The biggest let downs of the year. A device that could change everything. A device that could have brought the best mobile operating systems (Android and iOS) to our TVs and give us millions of apps to play with… instead searches our cable box for content and giving us more ways to pay for overpriced content. Boo. Fail.
All Around Worst App: iTunes
For the 10th year running: iTunes. What a beast. Slow to start up. Hard to use. Copying all my files to who knows where (whenever my hard drive is suddenly out of space, iTunes is to blame). Here’s an app by the maker of the iPad whose iTunes app doesn’t even perform the simplest task: subscribe to podcasts – i.e. automatically download new content. This year iTunes also introduced Ping, a social network (as if we needed another) for music. Note to Apple: Concentrate on usability and usefulness.
Music: The Social Network OST
My biggest gripe here isn’t with the music. I’m a huge Trent Reznor / Nine Inch Nails fan! My problem is with the price. Facebook is free. Everything Trent does is free. This is one piece of musical soundtrack that should have been free.
Movies/TV: Hulu and Hulu Plus
What a joke. Limited content, too many commercials, and an over priced app for shows that eventually expire. Hollywood really has to be reaching with this last ditch effort to save commercials. Forget it. Put a Pepsi or McDonalds logo (linked to a limited time offer) down in the corner and drop the commercials and the charge for the app.
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(Disclaimer: I’m not an expert or a programmer. I just see a need for better designed communication system.)
I think many people were disappointed last week when the 100k invites for Google Wave went out and everyone realized… Google Wave isn’t what they think it is. The consensus: Wave is a glorified (or confusing) email/chat system that has its own protocol for creating collaborative documents. Woo hoo.
What were we expecting Google Wave to be? I think most people expected a system that would merge email, chat (IM & SMS), with the communication of Facebook and Twitter streams (links, video, pics, and more). An all-in-one protocol for messaging perhaps?
Why it’s needed:
A number of APIs allow us to send SMS Tweets that update our Facebook feed. We can send an IM to update Twitter. We can email a picture to Flickr which updates our FriendFeed and perhaps that posts back to Twitter or Facebook. Right now these services and connections are spread out over a number of sites (and frankly, it’s very hard to keep track of what is updating where and when I do what?).
What Wave and its ‘bots’ (or programmable plug-ins that deal with Waves) could/should be is… an organizational tool for all the many forms of communication we use to interact with other people on a daily basis. Google seems to be the business ready for this, with products like Gmail, Gtalk, Google Voice, and the power of Google search. Facebook, according to CEO Zuckerberg, would love to be the number one form of communication on the planet. The first to sort out the mess that is 101 million ways of interacting and communicating, will win. It’s that simple.
How it should work:
An interactive all-in-one communication tool should:
- Be open and extensible
- Any communication format can be sent to/from email, to IM or SMS, into World of Warcraft or Second Life (any game or site w/ chat), or translated into Japenese and sent as Voicemail, etc.
- With my permission, any bot should be able to access certain Waves and make this happen. Right now, we grant these permissions through APIs for various sites/tools we use.
- Have algorithmic privacy controls
- A public Wave about my recent surgery is automatically sent to only my family, close friends, and doctors. However, a Wave to my doctor is private. A link to melanoma goes to anyone interested in health (or at risk!).
- Be interoperable
- A friend’s Wave about an NFL player comes to me because I am have that player on my Yahoo! Fantasy Football team. Another friend’s Wave about a player I am not interested in, does not come to me.
- Be verifiable
- I should know who is communicating with me. A system that verifies identity on (at least) 3 platforms is needed to reduce spam and allow for more productive communication.
What it could do:
Besides allowing for Google, Facebook, and Twitter to use this new messaging protocol and still compete for your eyeballs on their brand/version of this one-stop-shop for communication, a system like this could be used for bigger and better things. First, I would assume that whatever system was created for this would have a mobile app on many phones, or at the very least be able to convert anything to SMS. Second, I would assume that this would be the protocol adopted and used for all communications systems: phone calls, emails, IM, chat, status updates (even collaborative docs). Again, this would allow all platforms to fight competitively about branding and front end design while still allowing users to ‘do more’ with their communications.
Now let’s say I am playing World of Warcraft and my wife is at the store. With the touch of a button I can send a /tell that will arrive as a text message on her phone. “Buy some milk”.
Someone could write a bot that would poll (Wave already has a polling bot) all Ohioans about the upcoming Issue to legalize gambling or even Obama’s healthchare plan. All verified user data could then be sent to my local representative or Senator. Talk about a powerful lobby for the people.
Add geographical locations in the mix and a 911 call about a man choking might send an SMS to a nearby doctor/paramedic and save someone’s life. “You are a registered paramedic. A man in a brown coat is choking at the restaurant next door. Can you assist?”
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Google Voice has added an embeddable widget so that you can now call a user directly from a website or blog. I just added mine on the right side of my blog here, just below the Meebo widget. If you care to call, you’ll get my voice mail where you can leave a message that will be transcribed to email and sent to me immediately. What does this all mean?
This is just one more step Google taking dominant control of communications in all modes. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook has openly stated that he’d like to see Facebook be the #1 form of communications on the planet. While Facebook may be one of the best (and easiest) ways to share words, links, and pictures… a few areas they are not so strong in is voice, SMS text, and even webcam (Facebook applications aside). GTalk and Gmail have had webcam abilities for a while. Goolge Voice brings Google one step closer than Facebook in the are of SMS texts, which are completely free and unlimited, and Voice in the form of phone services that are way ahead of what your mobile carriers are giving. They also work right on top of your carrier’s services in the form of Mobile Apps and more… hence the reason Apple denied the Google Voice app from the iPhone store and the reason the FCC is currently looking into thier actions.
I was speaking with a friend the other day who has an iPhone, a limited texting plan, and an unlimited data plan. He was very interested in getting the Google Voice app for his iPhone so that he could send unlimited SMS text messages through the app and under his unlimited data plan. Obviously, this is something AT&T anticipated and a reason they presumably pushed Apple to block the app.