Web Watch: top 10 web services and apps of 2010
Web apps and services feature as a big part of most of our daily lives, and are mostly taken for granted, and for that reason, we’d like to pay tribute to some of the best of 2010. While some of the biggest apps and services that we have honoured have been around for a while, numerous enhancements in feature sets made this year, as well as their continued relevance in the current scenario make them eligible. Sheer ease of use and the raw capability of each web app/service was another important factor in our evaluation.
1. Microsoft Office Web Apps
Microsoft’s Office Web Apps, was released in June of this year, and has already made a mark on the web app scene. A free web-based version of Microsoft's Office productivity suite, it includes web-based versions of Microsoft’s much-loved Office software, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. The main advantages of cloud based Office productivity stem from anytime, anywhere accessibility, as well as online collaboration. Supported web browsers include Internet Explorer 7 and later, Mozilla Firefox 3.5 and later, Google Chrome, and Safari 4.
The Office Web Apps service is meant to replace Office Live Workspace, and ties in with Microsoft's Skydrive storage service that offers 25GB storage. The service is integrated with Office 2010 so you can save documents straight to the web. While it is a slightly watered down version of Office 2010, but has enough features for casual users. While it still lags behind Google Docs in features but it is has much better compatibility with oft-used Microsoft Office formats.
2. Google Docs
Google Docs has seen quite a few changes in 2010, from abandoning IE6 to completely renovating its Docs engine. Google Docs is now one of the most comprehensive document suites online. Just this year, the Google Docs team have added nine major new features:
- Support for any kind of file on Google Docs
- Support for multiple file versions
- A thumbnail view for documents
- A web clipboard
- A completely new revamped editor for Google Docs with real-time sharing
- Google Docs drawings editor
- OCR support for recognizing text from uploaded images
- Spellchecker, with support for adding words to the online dictionary
- Improved document revisions support
- More web fonts in editor
- Drag and drop adding images to documents
Google has certainly developed Google Docs a lot this past year, seriously upping the game that Microsoft is now jumping feet first into.
Gmail, one of the most used email providers in world, has seen numerous updates in 2010, with plenty of Gmail Lab updates ‘graduating’ into the standard version, and plenty of other new features, including a revamped interface, and a new mail sorting mechanism. Other new features offered in 2010 include:
- Priority Inbox which lets automatically detects which mails are important and shows them separate from your normal mail. It learns over time.
- Better support for devices, such as Android, iPhone and iPad.
- Turning off conversation view
- Video chat for Linux
- Voice calling straight from GMail. Can also receive calls. Ties in with Google Voice.
- Renovated contacts manager
- Access multiple GMail accounts at once
- Drag and drop attachments to and from emails
- Nearly instant loading of GMail windows
- Google Buzz, lots of controversy while launching, but is now quite in use
- Nested labels
- Improved account security
- Search auto-complete
- Gmail has been a busy bee in 2010, and continues to be one of the best web applications / services.
This rather simplistic social network seems to be here to stay as people are joining it in droves, or rather, flocks. 2010 saw quite a few changes incorporated into the Twitter service, and the biggest of them was a new revamped interface that was richer in media and real-time. Other new features include:
- @anywhere, Twitter integrated in other websites so you can tweet and follow from any website which supports @anywhere.
- Promoted tweets, tweets paid for by companies to stay on top of search results, like google ads
- Promoted accounts, Twitter accounts that appear on the top of suggestions, promoted/paid for by companies
- Promoted trends
- Promoted accounts, trends and tweets opened up to 3rd parties
- The Library of Congress mission to preserve all tweets for posterity
- Twitter launched official apps for Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone 7
- t.co link shortening service integrated with twitter
- Geolocation support
- Completed transition to OAuth
Easily the biggest social networking service on the web, Facebook claims to have in excess of 500 million users. An integral part of many people’s lives, Facebook has also been the favourite target for privacy groups. While no social network has been spared from controversies regarding privacy, Facebook has faced the brunt of the unrest, despite that it has gone through a lot of security and privacy changes in the past year. Major changes include:
- Collaboration with skype
- New design
- Facebook chat
- High-res photos in albums, face recognition and auto-tagging
- Change in privacy settings (huge controversy / hue and cry)
- 0.facebook.com a lite version of Facebook which will not be charged for on certain mobile networks, for example Airtel in India
- Facebook places
- Friendship pages
- New version of Groups
- Ability to download your entire Facebook profile to file
- Remote logout and one-time login
- Modern messaging system with consolidated social inbox for SMS, IM, email, and chat
Catch 6-10 on the next page...
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