It’s been a couple of years since I’ve done this, but a few days ago I decided to draw up a list of my favourite technology from the last 12 months.
As I asked myself what items I had been using on a daily basis, the ones I really couldn’t live without, I came to the realisation that the top ten or more technologies I was thinking of, came from just two companies! It probably won’t be too much of a surprise to find out who they are, but here is my shortlist for “Top Tech” in 2007.
It’s was so obvious it was easy to miss. GOOGLE. While 2007 may be remembered as the year that people started to question if the mighty company was becoming just a little bit too powerful, I hope that their “don’t be evil” motto still guides them.
Certainly their products are insanely useful and I couldn’t live without them.
I guess I just take their instant, relevant search result for granted. But when I stepped back to look at my daily on-line life, I realised this is the single most important technology (after the internet itself). Whether it’s straight forward Google.com or the more personalised iGoogle (the home page set on all my machines), the power and usefulness of the search algorithms cannot be underestimated.
Then there’s my second most used product – Google Reader. This superb RSS aggregator helps greatly with my daily trawl through the net for good stories for Automated Home. Reader brings all my favourite websites onto a single page that I can access from any of my machines, or even my phone. A powerful product that, along with its keyboard shortcuts, makes light work of getting through my daily feeds.
Google Docs (which I’m using to write this article) is, in usual Google style, a deceptively simple offering. But the beauty of having your documents stored online and available in any browser on any machine, anywhere in the world is incredibly useful. 2007 brought a new front end to Docs and added Presentation (the Powerpoint alternative) to the existing word processor and spreadsheet apps.
For me, 2007 was the year that Google Maps became really useful. Now, that may have a lot to do with my mobile phone (read on..) but since its launch I’ve really only used Maps for a bit casual browsing and checking out our house etc. Once integrated into a hand held device though, the Google mapping application comes into its own. Further advances have come just in the last few days, allowing mobile phones without GPS receivers to give their users an approximation of their location from triangulation information from their cell towers. How long until we start getting geo-ads though? Walking past the Cinema gives you a pop-up advert on your phone for that days shows? It’s bound to come.
For those of us who run websites there are a couple of other google goodies that are invaluable. Google Analytics is a stunning statistics offering. With its clean contemporary interface, it provides an incredible array of stats on your site, in graphs, tables and even maps. It’s simple – if you run a site, you need this thing!
Google Webmasters is another set of tools thats a must for webmasters. Google sums this one up nicely as “Statistics, diagnostics and management of Google’s indexing of your website”. This includes the ability to submit a Sitemap to google, passing them the URL if every single page on your site.
Google’s relentless pace continues, bringing us new products and upgrades like the recent addition of the IMAP option in GMail as well as a new version of the email app itself. 2008 promises even more functionality improvements in Docs, free on-line storage for us all and goodness knows what else.
And so to company number two, another Californian giant of the technology world… APPLE.
I’ve been a windows user since version 2.0 (1989) and even though I’ve had an Apple machine for almost three years, 2007 is the year I consider myself to have “switched” to Mac. My first Mac was bought in January 2005 (the then newly launched Mac mini). With its super stable Tiger OS it was definitely very impressive, but the G4 processor meant it was a little on the wheezy side and so the machine was eventually relegated to my daughters room.
Courtesy of Apple
However, earlier in the summer of this year I replaced my Sony Vaio / Vista Ultimate combo with a little black Core 2 Duo MacBook. The Intel Mac has been a revelation, its horsepower married to OSX Tiger, and now 10.5 Leopard has brought the pleasure back into computing again (especially with Don McAllisters excellent Screencasts Online training vodcasts to help with the switch).
Courtesy of Apple
I purchased Parallels thinking I’d need to run lots of my existing Windows apps, but only 5 months later I now have a Mac app for every task I need that’s as good as or better than its Windows equivalent. I’m now left running a single windows application on my MacBook (a bespoke stock control system I need for my day job). Leopard is fast and elegant and within a few days of using it I realised I liked it a lot more than Vista.
Courtesy of Apple
I ordered a 24” iMac to replace the Dell in the kitchen (here’s an interesting site following the wall mounting of an iMac in a Kitchen and its various uses – watch the video) as we turn to a 3 Mac household. This beautiful aluminium and glass all-in-one machine will become the main family computer. I just know that’s going to do away with the need for a clean install of the OS every nine months or so (like the existing Windows box).
To complete my switch, after many years of Windows Mobile phones (and before that PocketPC and Windows CE PDAs), I’ve moved over to the iPhone. What joy! It’s not a perfect device, and its short comings are well known, but it is very, very special. How is it that Apple can produce such a stunning device and, in their first attempt at a phone UI, blow away Microsoft who are on their sixth generation? I recently went away on a 3 day business trip and for the first time, without a laptop, I was able to administer everything I need to run our site, mailing list and forums. No other mobile device can offer a browsing experience like the iPhone (check out the iPhone formatted version of this site here – AutomatedHome.co.uk/iphone ).
At this point its hard not to start sounding like one of those Apple fan boys, which I assure you I’m not. Like I said, I’ve been a Windows user for 18 years and up until this year (and Vista) I’ve been a Windows supporter, defending the OS even when it got terribly unfashionable to do so. We still have windows machines at home, and I did like Windows Home Server which I trialled earlier this year.
So, there you have it, Google and Apple are responsible for pretty much all the favourite technologies that I couldn’t be without in 2007. Maybe the Internet itself should be on this list at number one, and of course each and every one of us will have different priorities, views and opinions on what’s best (why not leave us your Top Tech on our forums HERE ). So then, Apple and Google – perfect tech companies in the 21st century? Well, perhaps not perfect, but damn they’re good!
The Top Ten List
2. Google Reader
3. OS X Leopard
6. Google Maps
7. Google Analytics
8. Google Docs
9. Google Webmasters
Please click through to this thread in our forums and give us your top tech for 2007.