It’s time for my annual list of technology products that I love and use every day. This is the (wow) fifth year I’ve done this. Here are my previous lists: 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006. The scope of the list has changed over time. In 2006 it was just about websites. Now the list includes other web services, some desktop software and even a few gadgets.
These aren’t necessarily newly launched products (see Daniel Raffel’s post yesterday for a solid list of great new products). This is a simple list of the tech products that are an integral part of my day – work or play. Some have withstood the test of time and I just can’t live without. Others are newcomers that have captured my imagination.
I use most of them every day, or nearly every day, and I would not be as productive or happy without all of them. There are now 24 products on the list.
Just three of these products have been on the list all five years: TechMeme, Skype and WordPress. As I said last year, TechMeme continues to be the news aggregator I check multiple times per day to keep up on tech news (although Google News is becoming more important over time). Skype is the instant messaging and VoIP platform that I use most often at work and with friends. And WordPress software powers all of our blogs.
I’ve added 13 new products to last year’s list: Android, Apple Magic Mouse, Dropbox, Evernote, Foursquare/Loopt/Gowalla, Google Docs, Google Voice, Kodak Zi8, MOG, Skitch and Spotify.
I’ve removed seven products from the 2009 list: 1-800-Free-411, Digg, Friendfeed, Google Reader, iPhone, MySpace Music and Zoho.
There are lot of products that I use daily that aren’t on the list for various reasons. My iMac and MacBook Pro and Droid phone, for example, aren’t on the list specifically even though all three products are exceptional. I don’t really have a browser preference, although I suspect Chrome will be on the list next year. And there are lots of websites and services, like Posterous and Amie Street, that I use regularly but just didn’t make my arbitrary cut. We also use Bit.ly extensively on the site for URL shortening, and EventBrite and Amiando for event ticketing.
Here’s my 2010 list of tech products that I love and use every day:
I gave up the iPhone this year and switched to Android mobile phones. First the MyTouch, then the Droid. I’ll soon be upgrading again. What I like best about Android is the deep integration with Google Voice, which I talk about below. These two products go hand in hand.
I first put Animoto on the list last year. The service makes beautiful slide shows of photos, and this year they added videos (here’s one I made). Their iPhone application continues to impress. This company is now profitable and my guess is someone like Apple will acquire them in the next year.
The Apple Magic Mouse is the best computer pointing device ever made. It functions as a normal mouse but also has multitouch on top. Once you use it you’ll never be happy with an old mouse or touchpad again.
Delicious, the social bookmarking workhorse, has been on my list every year except 2007. It’s not perfect but it’s better than anything else out there.
Dropbox is a new addition to the list this year. It’s just dead simple file syncing across all your computers, mobile devices and the cloud. It’s also a great way to privately share big files. Dropbox is now one of my must-have productivity tools. I just wish Google offered something similar so that I could have an integrated dashboard for my Google Docs files and Dropbox stuff.
Evernote is also a new addition this year. Like Dropbox it is an amazing productivity tool that lets you capture, organize, and find information across multiple platforms. You can take notes, clip webpages, snap photos using their mobile phones, create to-dos, and record audio. All data is synchronized with the Evernote web service and made available to clients on Windows, Mac, Web, and mobile devices. Additionally, the Evernote web service performs image recognition on all incoming notes, making printed or handwritten text found within images searchable.
This is the third year in a row that Facebook has been on the list. Facebook has won the social wars, and even the biggest companies are now surrendering to them. Facebook Connect is turning into the defacto online identity solution for tens of millions of people.
These three startups (Foursquare, Loopt and Gowalla), among others, are battling to control mobile social networking. They all have variations of the check-in model, where users are encouraged to note where they are for their friends to see. Foursquare has all the early adopter momentum, But Loopt has millions of users and Gowalla has a compelling product. All three are likely to win.
This is the fourth year in a row for Gmail. It’s the best webmail out there, and I appreciate the free imap support and forwarding. Enough said.
This is a new addition for me this year. I never bothered installing Office on my new laptop, and find that Google Docs has all the functionality I need, plus easy sharing with others and storage in the cloud. I may never install Office again. I previously had Zoho on the list, a competitor, and removed it only because I find that centralizing as many services as possible at Google makes things easier for me as a user.
This has been a big year for Google Voice, previously called Grand Central. The mobile apps let Google Voice completely take over Android phones. I’ve ported my mobile number to Google Voice and now any time someone calls that number I can direct it to any phone I like based on where I am, who’s calling and when. It has changed my life, and I will never use a mobile phone that doesn’t have deep integration with the service.
This is the second year in a row for Hulu. I’d love for them to add a paid model and let me watch HBO shows or pay per view new release movies. And I wish they could secure rights to archived libraries of shows, but even as it currently exists, Hulu is a great entertainment service.
This digital video camera beats the pants off the current Flip models. The best feature is the ability to add a microphone. Flip doesn’t have this, and the audio quality is often terrible. The Zi8 is a full generation ahead.
MOG and Spotify are new this year. Pandora has been on every year except 2008, and with hindsight I should have added them that year, too. These are three streaming music services that are awesome. MOG, which is $5/month, is the best music experience on the Internet. Spotify, a desktop streaming service that hasn’t launched in the U.S. yet, lacks the radio and social features of MOG but is currently free. And we hear it will launch on a limited basis in the U.S. very shortly. Pandora is still a very cool place to just sign in and listen to music that I love quickly and easily.
Scribd and Docstoc, two services that let you upload office files like PDFs and Word documents and then embed them on sites, are very useful to bloggers like us. When we have a document that we want to share with readers, we use one of these services and embed it into the post. Both services were also on the list last year.
I’ve been using Skitch for years. It’s Mac software that makes basic image manipulation a breeze – sort of a very light version of Photoshop. For 90% of our images, Skitch works just fine. It’s easy to add text, resize and crop images, etc. And it automatically uploads them to the website for you, too.
Skype is on the list every year and will probably stay there, even under new management. I’d give up email before I gave up Skype. I use it almost exclusively for instant messaging, and a big percentage of my voice calls are over the service. I love doing video chat with friends oversees, too.
TechMeme is another service that has been on the list all five years. It is the definitely news aggregator for technology news, and a huge asset to our community.
TripIt is a simple travel service that is absolutely awesome, and returns to the list this year. You forward confirmation emails from flights, hotels, etc. to the service and it creates an itinerary automatically. You can then access it via a mobile device.
Twitter is fast becoming as essential marketing tool for TechCrunch, and I’m addicted to it personally. This is the third year I’ve added Twitter. For mobile use, I love the Seesmic Android application.
All our blogs run on WordPress’ open source software, and we use other services of the company, Automattic, that runs the project (Akismet for spam, polldaddy for polls). It has been on the list all five years, and we are thankful for such cool, and free, software.
Yammer, a Twitter-like service for companies to use internally, won TechCrunch50 in 2008 and is an essential productivity tool at TechCrunch. We long ago moved to the paid version of the service, and we’ve never looked back.
This is the fourth year in a row for YouTube. It’s always good for a two minute entertainment diversion from work, and we use it exclusively to host our own video content.
Let me know what services you’d add to your list, or leave off. Each year in the comments I hear about someone’s passion for a new product that I overlooked before, and sometimes they make the list in the following year.