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11 Top New Web Apps of 2007

11 Top New Web Apps of 2007
11 Best New Web Apps of 2007

I’ve been on something of a web app kick lately.  I really like the idea of creating,editing, and sharing documents and computing power “in the cloud”, accessible by whomever you want from wherever you want on whatever system you have handy.

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The field of web-based productivity is growing by leaps and bounds, and seems to be on the brink of becoming mainstream and ubiquitous.  That’s good news for mobile workers like me, who can never be completely sure where, or on what kind of computer, we may need to access our files. 2007 has been a good year, with great strides in core productivity apps like word processors and presentation software, and some interesting developments in specialized areas like collaborative brainstorming and todo list management.

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Because I love you, lifehack readers, here are 11 of the best web apps released in 2007!

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  • bubblus
       
      bubbl.us: Flash-based mindmap creator  bubbl.us allows you to quickly and easily make effective, attractive mindmaps that can be exported as images or as HTML outlines, or shared with others who can add new items or draw new connections between existing ones.
    • buzzword

        Buzzword: I’ve raved about Buzzword before, but it bears repeating: this online word processor is both gorgeous and a joy to use. Running in Flash, as you’d expect of an Adobe product, Buzzword works well and has a pretty full set of features already, and promises off-line functionality and PDF export in the near future.
      • empressr

          Empressr: Another Flash-based app, Empressr allows users to create and share slideshows using text, images, videos (including webcam captures created on the fly), and other rich media.  Presentations can be shared on the Empressr site and can also be embedded in users’ own pages.
        • highrise

            Highrise: From the good folks at 37signals comes Highrise, an enterprise-grade contact manager and customer relations manager.  37signals sets the standard for web 2.0 apps, so you know it’s good: clean design, a highly functional interface, and interconnectivity with other 37signals apps.
          • jott

              Jott: A combination of speech recognition and live workers backs this “note to self” service, allowing Jott to produce remarkably accurate transcriptions of your spoken messages.  Originally Jott simply recorded your message, transcribed it, and sent it to you to someone in your contact list, but their new Jott Links service connects up with various web services allowing you to post to blogs, add appointments to your online calendar, tweet with twitter, and add todos to your todo list.
            • mint

                Mint: Online money management made almost frighteningly easy, Mint allows users to add all their bank accounts, credit cards, stock trading accounts, and other financial information into a simple, clean view.  Although some have raised concerns about the security of all this sensitive information, Mint’s model was impressive enough to garner the TechCrunch40 Top Company Award (and $50,000 seed money).
              • nozbe

                  Nozbe:Modeled on David Allan’s “Getting Things Done” approach, Nozbe aims to be the ultimate GTD app. With easy-to-add next actions associated with contexts and projects, Nozbe comes pretty close!
                • sandy

                    Sandy: Sandy is a virtual assistant centered on your email.  You email Sandy with (almost) natural language statements, like “Remind me to call John Smith at 8am tomorrow”, and Sandy emails you a reminder at 8am tomorrow to call John Smith. Coupled with Jott, Sandy is a really exciting service!
                  • scrybe

                      Scrybe: The much-anticipated release of Scrybe left some feeling let down, but hype aside, Scrybe could well become the online calendar of choice.  Flash-based Scrybe uses a natural-language parser similar to Sandy’s, allowing new entries to be created quickly and easily.  The developers say they’re hard at work on integrating Scrybe with Outlook, which would make Scrybe a hard one to beat.
                    • todoist

                        Todoist: Billing itself as “useful, fast and easy to use”, Todoist can be nothing more than a todo list — you start typing into the text box, select a due date, hit enter, and move onto the next.  With a little specialized syntax, though, you can format lists, search for multiple criteria, manage your lists from Gmail, and integrate with external services like Launchy and QuickSilver.
                      • vitalist

                          Vitalist: Another contender for the GTD app, Vitalist also offers next actions, projects, and contexts (unlike Nozbe, you can create your own contexts), as well as a virtual “tickler file” and a mobile-optimized version. GTD apps are a highly personal product — one person’s way of getting things done might be nothing but a series of obstacles for another — so it’s good to see so much competition and innovation in this space.

                        While not all of these are necessarily the best in their class, they do compare favorably with more established apps like Basecamp for project management, Remember the Milk for todo lists, and Google Calendar for scheduling.  Some, like Sandy and Jott, essentially create new classes — try explaining to your grandmother just what, exactly, Sandy does!

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                        What excites me is that these represent only the first, or in some cases the second, step for web-based applications.  Any of these apps will help you be more productive, but imagine them integrated and refined 5 years from now — using Jott to call Sandy to schedule a payment in Mint and placing a todo in Todoist telling you to call in three days to make sure the payment is received. Maybe it won’t be these apps or these companies, but if not, the ones that follow will have the creators of the apps above to thank for blazing the trail.

                        So, what have I missed? What else came out this year that’s exciting you? What rounds out this list to an even dozen? And what have I included that’s old news around your neck of the woods? Let me know in the comments!

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                        Last Updated on January 13, 2020

                        The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                        The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                        No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

                        Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

                        Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

                        A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

                        Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

                        In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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                        From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

                        A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

                        For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

                        This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

                        The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

                        That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

                        Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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                        The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

                        Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

                        But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

                        The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

                        The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

                        A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

                        For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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                        But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

                        If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

                        For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

                        These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

                        For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

                        How to Make a Reminder Works for You

                        Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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                        Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

                        Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

                        My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

                        Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

                        I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

                        More on Building Habits

                        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                        Reference

                        [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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