Due to the nature of my work, I’ve been fortunate enough (and not-so fortunate in some cases) to try thousands of apps since the turn of the Century. So, to come up with a list of the best ten out of all of these is like asking me to come up with a top ten list of the best sandwiches I’ve eaten this decade, such is the range to sift through. It turns out that many of the apps that I’m in love with most were released in the 90s, so unfortunately I don’t get the chance to lavish affection over apps like Irfanview and Opera. But here’s my pick of the applications that have been release in the last ten years.
Skype – Released 2003. Having emigrated from England a few years ago, Skype has been a real lifeline to home, allowing me to enjoy precious moments with loved ones without having to set foot on the cold and miserable shores of my homeland. This fun, friendly and free program has grown from being something of a gimmick to become an essential communication tool for the PC and, more recently, for mobile devices.
Google Earth – Released 2005. I’ve always been fascinated by geography and when this app came out I would spend entire evenings zipping around the planet on it, imagining what it would be like to go to those places. Since then, it’s usefulness has improved, and I now use Google Earth to help my find decent restaurants, hotels and places to visit when I’m in a new town or city.
iTunes – Released 2001. I downloaded iTunes on the day the first ever version was released and the program has been a permanent fixture on my computer ever since. It’s fair to say it’s become a little bloated over recent releases, but I guess that’s the price you pay for getting access to a near inifinte amount of music, film, radio and TV in one place. The biggest revolution in software of the decade.
Pro Evolution Soccer – Released 2001. Having been an ISS fan since its Super Nintendo days, when I first played Pro Evolution Soccer I was instantly hooked. Its realistic gameplay has always been ahead of anything that FIFA can offer, and although I was a bit disappointed by this year’s version of Pro Evo, this is without question the game I’ve spent most time on this decade. It’s a sad fact that the computer opponent in the game is my best friend.
Qik – Released 2009. This is a fun phone app from this year that I’m expecting big things from in the next decade. These days, everyone can be famous thanks to the wonders of blogging, YouTube, and the X-Factor. Qik takes things a stage further by allowing you to broadcast your life live over the Internet using your phone’s video camera. This Trueman Show-style medium will surely be massive in the tennies.
Shazam – Released 2008. Probably the best iPhone app I’ve tested to date. Turn on Shazam, hold it next to a speaker and it will tell you exactly which song is playing. It’s wonderfully simple to use, and perfect for those nights at the disco when you’re too shy to go up to the DJ and ask him what track he’s playing. I’ve discovered lots of great music that otherwise would’ve passed me by were it not for Shazam.
PS3 Media Server – Released 2008. In my opinion, the PS3 Media Server should be bundled on a USB stick when you buy your PlayStation. The app lets you stream movies and audio from your PC or Mac to your TV, via your PS3. It’s so simple to set up and yet once installed it will become an integral part of your home entertainment system. Best of all, PS3 Media Server is free of charge!
Opera Mobile/Opera Mini – Released 2000. The mobile Internet was predicted to be the big thing of the noughties, but for one reason or another browsing on a handset still hasn’t really taken off. However, Opera’s mobile browsers have been pioneering the way to faster, easier mobile Internet. The first thing I do when I get a new phone now is to install Opera Mobile because it always delivers a better experience than the built-in browser.
Last.fm – Released 2002. I was a Last.fm fan from the moment I first clapped eyes on its scrobbler. I fell in love with it because it allowed me to get straight to the music I liked, and discover new stuff by recommended artists. I feel that the application has become a little too bloated with community features of late, but Last.fm is still one of the all-time classic Web apps.
ILOVEYOU worm – Released 2000. I know this might be controversial but I have a kind of a sick sympathy for virus writers. Some software developers choose to create innovative programs like those listed above and get lavished with praise. Yet a programmer produces some code that manages to install itself in more than 50 million computers and cause more than $5 billion of damage, and he must remain anonymous.