It's time for that honored tradition that's inescapable at the end of every year: the annual best/worst lists. But I'm generally a positive kind of guy, so I'm just going to share my "best of" part of the list. Below you'll find my selections for the best of tech that I used in 2010. Some of the items on the list may have originated before 2010, but this is the year I really put the tech to use. So, without further ado, here is the Best of Tech 2010 as I see it.
Best Mac App: 2010 wasn't kind to the Mac app platform. The wild success of iOS and mobile apps in general seems to have taken a toll on innovative desktop apps. Hopefully the Mac App Store will reverse the trend. Until then, if you are looking for a cool new Mac app, try OmmWriter Dāna. It's a word processor designed from the ground up to lend itself to the user's creative flow. You can read my review of it here. Try it out (there are both free and paid versions), and you'll find out just how much a little thing like a horizontal cursor can increase your creativity. You can download OmmWriter here.
Best Web App/Site: Saying "TUAW" would be obvious and saying "Twitter" would be cliché (and a lie, as I think it's pointless... But maybe I'm bitter because I only have 36 followers). Still, there are plenty of other websites/apps out there. Here are my favorite three:
1. Mint.com. It's been around for a while, but Mint is still the best financial tracking solution out there. It allows you to log in and see all your bank accounts, investments and loans in one place via a UI that has the design elegance of an Apple product. For Mac users who just want a simple way to get an overview of their financial life, Mint is the place to be -- despite owner Intuit's hope that their revised Quicken for Mac would take off. Mint has an excellent companion iPhone app, and while an iPad app is supposed to be coming (you can read my interview with Mint founder Aaron Patzer about the future of Quicken on the Mac and Mint), until that actually happens, Mint could make their site more attractive to iPad owners by transitioning their charts over to HTML5. Intuit's Quicken for Mac has turned out to be another dud, but their web-based financial management acquisition continues to shine.
2. Dropbox. I came rather late to the Dropbox party. I only started using it a few weeks ago. But since then, it's become a valuable part of my workflow. The Dropbox ecosystem of web, iOS and desktop apps works flawlessly, and it is now my preferred way to transfer files between devices. Dropbox is what iDisk always should have been. While some people think Apple should purchase the company, I say leave well enough alone.
3. Google Body. There's not an iPhone or iPad app for Google Body yet, and you can't even access the site on your Mac without downloading an OpenGL-capable browser, but once you do, you'll be amazed by the detailed 3D body you see in front of you. Google Body is Google Earth of you. Maybe it's just because I'm an anatomy geek (or the fact that I wrote to Google begging for such a service in 2002), but Google Body is such a technological feat because of its ease of use. Never before has exploring what makes us us been so simple (or free). Goodbye Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy!
Best Apple Hardware: Nope, not the iPad. The best Apple hardware of 2010 is the MacBook Air. Apple has really learned a lot about ultra-portables since it introduced the original Air in 2008, and with the latest Air, has made the most well-designed laptop in its history. What's more, this Air is finally capable of being your only computer if you're like me and don't use many apps besides Office and iLife. If you don't have a hard drive full of hundreds of gigabytes of photos and videos and rarely use optical media, there's no reason it wouldn't be enough for you. The new model comes in 11- and 13-inch screens and boasts up to 128 GB or 256 GB of flash storage. Go play with one at the Apple Store, and you'll soon come to think Apple's other laptops look just plain bulky.
Best iPad Game: Hungry Shark Trilogy HD. Yeah, everyone loves Angry Birds, but I love sharks. Do yourself a favor: play Episode 3 of Hungry Shark Trilogy HD. You'll lose yourself in the immersive environments -- and the hilarious nod to every spy movie ever made. Angry what? Hungry Shark Trilogy HD is US$2.99 on the App Store.
Best iPad App: This is a tie. First up is CNBC's Real-Time app. It's the most versatile stock tracking app I've come across. It's also beautifully designed. Create portfolios, track stocks in real-time and get news updates in a flash. I'm gonna be using this app to see when AAPL crosses the $400 mark sometime this coming year. Don't think that will happen? My prediction about the $300 mark met opposition from 634 people, too. CNBC Real-Time is a free download.
Next up is the Healthcare Reform Bill app. I love it so much because it's a great example that technology can be used as a civics tool. In this case, it's an app that strips away the partisan bickering and explains, via a simple interactive timeline, what's actually in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 better than any cable news network ever could. Healthcare Reform Bill is a free download.
Best eReader: None. The paperback book still beats the iPad's iBooks and Amazon's Kindle hands down. I really wanted to love iBooks, but for reading large amounts of text, the printed page is still superior in form and function to multi-touch screens and digital text. Talk to me again when companies crack the digital paper from Caprica.
Well, that's my favorite tech of 2010. Looking back on it, it's a rather random assortment. I'd love to know what your favorite tech of 2010 was. Let me know in the comments. Here's to a happy 2011 for everyone!
Apple iPad Air 2
Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (early 2015)