Lifehacker’s “50 free apps we’re most thankful for”

Lifehacker has published a list of the “50 free apps we’re most thankful for”. It’s actually quite a good list and I use and am fan of many of them. I’ve taken the list and annotated with my thoughts on what is good and what isn’t.

Many of them are really useful, if not essential for PR and corporate communications professionals. Are there any apps that are good for public relations people that aren’t mentioned?



The 50 free apps we’re most thankful for

  1. Dropbox: Cloud Storage – Big fan, but I also love Microsoft’s SkyDrive and by using both have more than enough free cloud storage space for all my needs at the moment.
  2. Google Chrome: Web Browsers – My browser of choice, mainly because of the great extensions you can get.
  3. Firefox: Web Browsers – Not a big fan, my second choice browser is Microsoft Internet Explorer, which no longer deserves much of the criticism it still gets.
  4. Evernote: Notes – Nope. I’ve tried. I really have, but Microsoft OneNote beats it in almost every way. Evernote’s only beats OneNote on its mobile app where OneNote is still pretty weak.
  5. Pocket: Bookmarking – Brilliant, by far and away the best way to save content for offline reading. Although I’m not sure I would categorise that as ‘bookmarking’.
  6. Skype: VoIP – Best features for me are text instant messaging, one-to-one video calls and the SkypeIn number which gives me a cheap London number for business. Very rarely use it for normal telephone calls.
  7. Google Maps: Maps – Free GPS navigation when I’m driving and helps me to find where I’m going when walking to meetings.
  8. Gmail: Email – I was a very early adopter of Gmail and have 100,000+ emails stored, but I never use it. For me it is simply an extra online back-up which is ‘sometimes’ easier to search. My business email if via Microsoft Office 365 (very cheap, very good cloud Exchange) and IMAP accounts from my web hosting provider (1&1).
  9. Google Voice: Communication – Never used it.
  10. Instagram: Photos – Only just started to use Instagram and still not really convinced, but will persevere for a while.
  11. Spotify: Music Streaming – Quite like it, but I still tend to listen more to my own music which I’ve bought on CD and ripped so I have MP3s on my laptop, tablet and mobile.
  12. Flipboard: News Readers – Fail to see what the hype is about – very pretty, but useless was my verdict. My favourite news reader is Feedly which syncs all the RSS feeds in my Google Reader account and presents them in a nice magazine format in their proper folders. It has a Chrome app for desktop as well as Android tablet and mobile apps. Also quite like Taptu.
  13. Google Drive: Cloud Storage – I’ve got it installed, but haven’t seen the need to use it as yet as SkyDrive and Dropbox are already doing the job for me. I suppose when I need more storage space I might start using it.
  14. Google Calendar: Calendars – Never needed it. Was put off years ago when basically it meant your diary was on the internet so if you were offline then you couldn’t access it. Different today when you’ll still have it on your mobile. Microsoft Office 365 provides much better email, contacts and calendar than Google does. I do however use Google Tasks, but only because it is the back-end to sync my tasks with Platinum Tasks on my tablet.
  15. Google Play Music: Never used it, so can’t comment.
  16. Waze: Have it installed on my mobile, but can’t say I’ve used it much. No need when Google Maps does what I need.
  17. Dolphin: Web Browsers – Best mobile browser, although annoyingly the tablet version doesn’t work with LastPass.
  18. Wunderlist: To-Do Lists – Strange inclusion on the list as this is by far from the best of dozens of to-do list/task apps I’ve tried. My main to-do list app at the moment is Platinum Tasks which is an Android tablet only app that syncs with Google Tasks.
  19. Pandora: Music Streaming – Never used it, so can’t comment.
  20. Google Reader: News Readers – Google Reader looks terrible and is hard to use, but that doesn’t matter as it provides a great back-end sync service to lots of much better news readers such as Feedly and FeedDemon. I’ve included some of LifeHacker’s links for this one as Google Reader is only really useful if you use it with other stuff. See also: Supercharge Google Reader with Styles and Extensions, Organize My RSS Feeds So They’re More Manageable, How to Turn Google Reader into a Customizable Read-It-Later Service, and more Google Reader coverage
  21. LastPass: Password Managers – An essential app. You know that it is best practice to have a different secure password for every single online account, but it’s very hard to do so without the help of an app like LastPass. It will generate the secure passwords for you and if you help you to log-in on any browser and if you pay $12 a year subscription it also works on tablet and mobile. You can also use it to share passwords amongst team members which is essential if you’re managing corporate social media accounts where the importance of secure passwords is even greater than on your personal accounts.
  22. XBMC: Media Centers – Never used it, so can’t comment.
  23. VLC: Media Players – Heard great things about this, but haven’t used it recently. Must take another look soon.
  24. Personal Finance – Really wish I could use this as from what I’ve read and been told it is fantastic. But it is USA only.
  25. TeamViewer: Remote Access – Lots of remote access apps, but it isn’t something I’ve ever really had a need for.
  26. AirDroid: Remote Access – Another one to put on the ‘must take a look at’ list.
    See also: AirDroid Controls Your Android Phone or Tablet from Any Modern Web Browser
  27. FoxFi: Tethering – Would be good, but my HTC Desire HD already does this. One to keep on a list for if I ever need it.
  28. Ubuntu (and other Linux Distros): Operating System – Too geeky for me. I’m a Windows fan boy and am currently enjoying the wonder that is Windows 8. Buy it now while it’s still half-price to upgrade.
  29. Microsoft Security Essentials: Antivirus – Wow, actually recommending a Microsoft product. Never real thought about this before as I’ve always used AVG Free.
  30. uTorrent: BitTorrent Client – If you need this then I suppose it’s what I’d use. But I just don’t need it.
  31. CCleaner: Utilities – Great utility to help you keep your Windows PC running smoothly.
  32. HandBrake: Video Conversion – This has been on my ‘must take a look at’ list for ages.
  33. VirtualBox: Virtualization – I’ve got no need for this.
  34. CyanogenMod: Android ROMs – Keep toying with the idea of rooting my phone and playing with different Android ROMs, but just never had the time to do it.
  35. Flux: First one on the list I’ve never even heard of!
  36. GIMP: Image Editing – If you don’t already have PhotoShop or don’t know how to use PhotoShop then GIMP is well worth a look, but that doesn’t apply to me so it is too much effort to learn something new.
  37. LibreOffice:  Office Suite – Why would you want an alternative to Microsoft Office. It’s not that expensive and is brilliant. Office programs are probably where most office workers will spend most of their time and are what most : people know how to use. Why settle for second best just to have a few quid?
  38. Thunderbird: Email – See comment 37. Outlook already does a great job.
  39. Picasa: Photo Manager – I do like this, but the photo manager that comes with Windows 8 already does a good job so not much in this one.
  40. Twitter: Social Networking – If they mean the Twitter mobile apps then I’d say there are lots of better ones. I use HootSuite.
  41. AutoHotkey: Utilities – Problem with this type of utility is that you tend to install it, but then never use it as it is a case of setting it up and learning new habits.
  42. Launchy: Utilities – Another new one I’ve not heard of.
  43. Quicksilver: Utilities – Another new one I’ve not heard of.
  44. Simplenote: Note Taking – Not tried this, but might take a look.
  45. Titanium Backup: Utilities – Not sure I need this. Most of my mobile/tablet files are already synced with some sort of cloud service and you can just reinstall apps and set up settings again.
  46. Winamp: Media Players – Have used this and like it, but I’m not sufficiently unhappy with the default media players to make it worth using this.
  47. Google Tasks: To-Do Lists – Not a very good to-do list service, but just like Google Reader the advantge is the huge number of apps and services that sync with Google Tasks. See comments 14 and 18.
  48. Opera:  Web Browsers – Chrome and Internet Explorer already do the job for me. See comments 2 and 3.
  49. Notepad++: Text editors – I’m not a techy, but sometimes do need to edit PHP or HTML and this is a good way to do it. Also helps to ‘clean’ copy written in Word before you use it online.
  50. 7-Zip: File Compression – Useful. I use it mainly to open stuff rather than zip stuff.

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