Useful Web Apps 2014-2015

In my penultimate post about useful software I used in 2014 and will (most likely) use in 2015, I wanted to look at some of the web apps that made my life easier:

  • Codepen – Easily the best online code sharing environment there’s thousands of great pieces of code out there, an easy to use environment to test your code in, and a nice UI to wrap the whole thing up – perfect.
  • Pocket – Easy to capture articles into (Chrome add-in), Pocket Pro adds useful retention for articles that might be removed from the web, and a solid mobile client makes Pocket idea for building up and going through your reading list.
  • Outlook.com – I want to love gmail – I still get most of my email into my gmail account to make the most of Google Now on my phone- but it just isn’t a great UI for working with messages – I have no idea why I’d want a floating compose window as opposed to a fix one focusing on the message I’m working with but Outlook manages to provide a clean interface that doesn’t get in the way.
  • Feed.ly – I can’t deny missing Google Reader, but Feed.ly does everything I want from a feed reader with some useful bells and whistles.
  • Evernote – Evernote’s new interface is a delight it focuses on useful elements (composing new notes and searching for old ones) that demonstrates where a lot of apps should be headed – very refreshing especially for a company which could’ve easily sat on it’s robust (old) web client or told people to use apps instead.
  • Google Calendar – I use this out of habit/convenience more than anything as the whole style of Google Calendar is painful due to a complete lack of logical workflow and design grace- it’s great telling me in a tip that I can say “Lunch with X at 11:30 am” but it’s useless when I put all that data into my entry and I don’t have a time or place field automatically completed unless I use perfect syntax – which is especially annoying when Google’s intelligence in Google Now and general searches on Android is a country mile ahead of the pack. They could save the applicaiton with a bit of thought about how people use a calendar (keep the new appointment form in a pane so it’s always accessible,
  • Google Plus Photos – Actually, this is awful too. Wow- I never knew how frustrating Google apps could be until I looked at them one by one! In fairness, the core functionality is great- editing is easy, tidy automatic Android integration/backup, and some nice touches (auto-touch up and story creation) work well… but try to do anything with the app (managing the large amount of images it supports, moving things into albums etc) seems to be bug ridden and difficult (I can never move items into a new album without selecting them and then scrolling all the way back to the top of the page for example, and I’m bored of the reset to the top of the page)… Maybe this year I’ll have a look at OneDrive or Flickr for my images- but for now, Google Plus Photos does the job…
  • WordPress – Constantly updating and adding functionality without getting in the way – WordPress shows what you can achieve in a web app. I’m confident what it doesn’t do that I’d like to is probably covered by a plugin – it’s really hard to fault (especially with free hosting on WordPress.com).
  • OneDrive – Microsoft pushed Google Drive out for me due to it’s speed and ease of use- where Drive insisted on versioning and Docs integration, OneDrive seemed happy to be more Dropbox like – and now that Microsoft’s office apps have become more robust online I’d never think of switching back to a storage only service (especially after SugarSync, a long term favourite for such things, decided to pull it’s free offering without “upselling” it’s functionality against it’s many free competitors).
  • SimpleNote – OK- so many of you will have noticed Evernote and OneNote on my previous entries – why another note app? SimpleNote does the basics brilliantly- and it gives a nice little silo for scratching out specific notes for specific purposes (it’s a bit like a seperate drawer in your desk!).
  • TimeBuddy – My favourite world clock site for ease of use!

My next, and final, post in this series will cover some of the apps I’m looking forward to next year and what I hope will come to fruiton soon.

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