Staff Picks: Top Web Apps and Software of 2009

Many great web applications and software emerged in 2009, so the staff at Techerator put together a list of their favorite or most used applications of 2009.  Let us know about your favorite software of 2009 in the comments at the bottom!

Evan Wondrasek

  1. Gmail – I’ve been using Gmail for a few years, but 2009 was definitely the year where I got the most out of it.  I love being able to import mail from several accounts into one Gmail account and keep them all organized with Multiple Inboxes.  [Check our our guides about Gmail]
  2. WordPress – You might not know this, but you’re using WordPress right now.  This website (and thousands of others) all use WordPress to create and manage content.  Just like all my favorite applications, WordPress supports plugins so you can expand it far beyond it’s core functionality. WordPress is some of the highest quality free software I have ever used.  [Check out our guides about WordPress]
  3. Twitter – I might be referred to as a Twitter addict.  I might also have a few Twitter t-shirts in my closet. Those allegations aside, Twitter has turned into my favorite social network and I find I’m getting more out of it every day.  If I ever have a problem (especially tech related), I typically Tweet about it first and my great group of followers can provide a solution.  [Check out our guides about Twitter]
  4. Firefox and Google Chrome – Is it cheating to list both of these in one spot?  I think not!  Firefox has been my favorite browser for years, but in the last few months (most notably when Chrome started offering support for extensions) I’ve been using Google’s browser almost exclusively.  Now if only Chrome supported a legitimate version of Tree Style Tabs…  [Check out our guides about Firefox and our articles about Google Chrome]
  5. Android – I fell in love with Google’s mobile operating system when I got my Motorola Droid.  Even though the Android Market is small and most applications are in early versions, I’ve discovered some fantastic applications that could never see the light of day in Apple’s app store (like the Google Voice app).

Dustin Patterson

  1. Dropbox – Dropbox is a great way to sync your files across multiple platforms including different operating systems and other portable devices.  The ability to share files and folders with other Dropbox users creates a great collaboration environment that I have been able to take advantage of this year.  [Checkout our guide Dropbox]
  2. Twitter – Probably one of the most talked about services of 2009, Twitter is a great way to keep up with people you know personally, and those you don’t. I have found Twitter to be a great way to keep up with people I’m interested in including directors, musicians, bloggers, and other tech enthusiasts. [Check out our guides about Twitter]
  3. Hulu – Although Hulu has been around for a couple of years now, I found myself watching more content on Hulu than on cable or over-the-air television this year. By having added a larger number of shows and easiler ways to access the content with software like Hulu Desktop, Hulu is one of my top web apps for 2009.
  4. Evernote – Evernote is one piece of software that I am still incorporating into my daily usage. With an essentially unlimited number of uses, Evernote allows you to keep track of just about anything. Its rich editor is available in both a web interface and desktop application and also has apps for many portable devices.
  5. Vibe Streamer – Probably my favorite piece of software this year, Vibe Streamer allows me to stream my music library to any computer with a Flash-enabled web browser. Whether I am at work or on the run, I always have my Vibe Streamer page open and am able to listen to anything from my music library with a couple clicks.  [Check out our guide on Vibe Streamer]

Reis Pritchard

  1. CCleaner – Every computer’s ‘apple a day’, though in my case it’s more like 10 bushels.  I use it constantly to remove digital junk from my computer. [Check out our guide to CCleaner]
  2. Steam – This online gaming network for PC brings Xbox LIVE to it’s knees in my biased opinion.
  3. Xmarks – I fell in love with this online bookmark management system after they announced support for the Google Chrome web browser. [Check out our guide to Xmarks]
  4. WLAN Optimizer – A very small, relatively unknown tool that has given me huge relief with my Vista and Windows 7 installations.  One of its features cancels the background scan for new networks and has fixed many people’s wireless issues (particularly in gaming and audio/video streaming).
  5. Netflix – Online movie rentals and instant streaming via PC, Xbox 360, PS3, and many other devices.

Kevin Schulte

  1. Gmail – Is there really any question why this is on here? Gmail makes other web based e-mail services look archaic and unusable. [Check our our guides about Gmail]
  2. Bruce Schneier’s Blog – Bruce’s musings on security are always relevant, entertaining, and informative. There’s a reason why he’s at the top of his field.
  3. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal – Definitely ranks as one of my favorite web comics. While everyone loves XKCD, it can be spotty at times. Zach Weiner churns out consistently funny material on a near daily basis.
  4. Dragon Age: Origins – BioWare at their finest. Dragon Age delivers with a top notch storyline and classic BioWare gameplay that brings back pleasant memories of Neverwinter Nights and the Baldur’s Gate series. Without a doubt my personal game of the year.
  5. Rock, Paper, Shotgun – The authority on PC gaming. I’m amazed at how much information RPS is able to produce every day. If it’s relevant to PC gaming, RPS has it covered.

Derek Dahlen

  1. Google Voice – I haven’t yet had the chance to fully utilize Google Voice (lack of Google Voice app for Windows Mobile is responsible for that 🙁 ), but I really think this is the future of telephony. It offers free services that exceed anything I get from my wireless provider. [Check out our guide to Google Voice]
  2. Brizzly – This web UI replacement for Twitter is full-featured, yet simplistic. This is what twitter’s web client should be.  [Check out our guide to Brizzly]
  3. Google Maps – Whether I’m browsing maps looking at the street view in far off lands or checking the local traffic conditions, I seem to find Google Maps perpetually open in one of my tabs.
  4. Pandora – Over the year, I’ve had a resurgence in my use of Pandora due to their expansion into mobile applications. Nothing beats taking Pandora on road with you.  [Check out our guide to using Pandora without a browser]
  5. Google Chrome – Google Chrome has become my primary browser of choice in 2009. With its speedy rendering and increased screen real-estate, it certainly has made itself one of the top browsers in the market. With the release of Chrome extensions, I feel like this piece of software will have a great year in 2010.  [Check out our articles about Google Chrome]
  6. (Honorable MentionSteam – Steam has been around for quite a while, but I feel it deserves much more credit than it gets. I remember back when I had to actually go to the store and buy a physical copy of a game. Steam delivers 100% of the content over the internet. (The only downside to Steam being the elimination of the second hand sales.)

David Carman

  1. Twitter – I really used it a lot this year.  I Started following a lot of cool people and found it to be a great tool to communicate with new people as well as current friends.  [Check out our guides about Twitter]
  2. Amazon – Used it a lot more this year than most, not for any specific reason but I just found myself ordering more and more from it versus other places.
  3. Hulu – As Hulu included more and more shows I find myself watching more and more on Hulu instead of using other methods to get TV.  In fact, I didn’t get TV when I moved into my apartment, and I don’t even feel like I need to.

Patrick Vinge

  1. Dropbox – Dropbox has been around for awhile now but with the ability to upgrade space for free now by inviting people, it is better then ever.  This year we have also seen a lot of Dropbox “hacks” to bring out the full potential of the service.  [Check out our guide to Dropbox]
  2. Twitter – Twitter is huge and only getting bigger.
  3. Google Voice – The single most useful Android app released to date.  Google Voice’s transcription service isn’t spot on yet but it is coming along nicely and honestly, having a “close enough” transcription works for me.  [Check out our guide to Google Voice]
  4. Pandora – Recently I have been reaching my monthly maximum limit over and over again, but you can’t ask for much more then 40 free hours of music a month.  [Check out our guide to using Pandora without a browser]
  5. Quicksilver – A must install app on all systems running Mac OS X.  With the ability to launch and search applications in one quick keyboard shortcut, it will save you a considerable amount of time.  Windows users should check out Launchy for a suitable equivalent.

Michael Green

  1. Firefox – I had previously been an Internet Explorer user and I am really glad I made the switch.  I really like all of the options for add-ons.  I love the Folders 4 Gmail Greasemonkey script because it shortened up the length of my labels A LOT.  [Check out all of our guides about Firefox]
  2. Gmail – I have been using Gmail for a while but after reading about getting organized in Gmail and utilizing filters to sort my messages, I really like the way Gmail works for me now.  I have set up a couple of filters to send my work emails to a folder which skips my inbox so my phone doesn’t blow up every time I get a work email which is great.
  3. Clone DVD by Elaborate Bytes and AnyDVD by Slysoft – With this combination of programs I have been able to burn every DVD I own to make backups.  AnyDVD is a decryption program that is updated at least 2 times a month to account for the most recent DVD protection codes.
  4. DVDShrink and Mediacoder iPod/iPhone Edition – With DVDShrink I am able to reauthor DVD’s so that I can save just the main title of a DVD as an ISO file.  DVDShrink also allows me to adjust the compression ratio on the title I am saving which is nice because it saves a lot of room in the end when I put the file onto my phone or iPod for watching.  Mediacoder takes the ISO file and converts it to an MP4 file.  This program program has a friendly UI, but sometimes it takes around 3 hours to convert the ISO file into an MP4. Both of the programs are free so that is a definite bonus to be able to convert any DVD into an MP4 for free.
  5. Microsoft Excel – If I made this list in order of most useful programs this would be my #1 and not my #5.  As an engineer I really don’t have any idea what I would do with out Excel.  I use it in just about every one of my classes and it saves me a lot of time.  I have been using the 2010 beta version lately but it seems to be pretty similar to the 2007 version with some changes in paste options being the biggest thing that I have noticed.