There are times when you find something new, cool and interesting either by chance or recommendation and it changes everything – Web Apps are the ultimate game changers in the modern web arena – the really good ones get into your head like some new addictive substance and quickly become essential.
Here are 4 Web Apps that changed everything for me:
OK, its not neseserilly a true Web App but Spotiy changes the way you can take your music anywhere in such a simple way its worthy of a mention. What really sells Spotify for me is its speed and mobility. In the past if I wanted to share an artist or song with a friend I would have to burn a CD or use a USB stick or use some sort of internet-based file transfer like email or Dropox.
With Spotify its a simple matter of installing the app and then sending them the link to the artist/track, for example: Brandon Benson easy right? Spotify is also great for parties, its library walks all over even the most addictive Mp3 hoarders music collection.
Best of all, all this music is FREE. I don’t have a Spotify premium account, surprised? Trust me, you don’t need one to enjoy Spotify.
On the surface Beluga is a just a multichannel chat app but this simple and effective system has managed to replace most of my email habits in just a few months. Beluga takes a nod from twitter, IM and classic group mailing lists and mixes them into a clean and refreshing experience.
I love Beluga because I’ve always loved email groups like Google Groups, Yahoo! Groups and the now long forgotten SmartGroups. For over 10 years I’ve used these email services to stay in touch with friends, organize events and generally rant and banter about anything and nothing in particular. Beluga is great because its replaced the one or two line email rants I used to be so famous for with a simple twitter-esqu group chat which the app calls a ‘Pod’. You can make Pods for anything and invite anyone you like to use them. I have a Pod with all my buddies in, one with just a couple, one that’s for rants one for banter, one for sorting nights out and a few for private one-on-one chats.
Beluga also has excellent business and project management applications. Pods can be used to share ideas, set agendas and have online group meetings.
Twitter was a massive deal for me. I’ve never been a fan of using Facebook or LinkedIn or any other similar social networking tools, they just don’t click with me and I struggle to see the point to most of their features. Twitter is different, its an announcement and discovery tool – I use it to promote interesting articles I find online while mixing in the odd true status update like: “I’ve just seen a cat riding a dog”.
HootSuite is by far (I’ve tried a few) the best Twitter app. Its strength is in its simple layout and fast delivery of messages from multiple accounts and sources. I use HootSuite to find new information based on hashtags (like #wordpress, #html5, #jquery), search terms (‘wordpress+plugins’, ‘icon packs’, ‘uk tech event’) and from a legion of people that I follow. These ‘feeds’ can be set up as tabs and it works great because its all there on one screen in a simple and intuitive layout.
I started using Dropbox in a similar way to Spotify, to share files with friends and as a replacement for USB drives and email attachments. More recently however I’ve become reliant on it as a productivity, project management and development tool.
If you work on multiple computers like I do then Dropbox is your best friend. I have 2 office PCs and a MacBook, all of them have my Dropbox synced up. If I come up with a great idea while on the sofa surfing the web – I throw in into a text file in my Dropbox safe in the knowledge that tomorrow I can get to it in the office. I’ve also started using project folders in Dropbox so when I’m, for example, developing a new WordPress theme I can make changes in one place and easily be able to pick it up elsewhere.
Dropbox also rocks for collaboration. I work on projects with people who I rarely see face to face but we can keep up with a few twitter DM’s and a Dropbox folder that pings me when an update is made. Its seamless for this sort of work and I can’t recommend it enough.
And you know what, I don’t have a premium Dropbox either! The free 2gb has lasted me for a good couple of years and I don’t yet see a need to upgrade.
So that’s my 4 Web Apps. I use each of them pretty much every day and in the case of Dropbox and HootSuite I really couldn’t live without them, they changed everything for me just like when I sent my first email or did my first web search or wrote my first couple of lines of CSS. If you have yet to try any of these Apps, don’t wait, use them today.