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Switched Weighs In: Gadgets, Apps and Tech That Made Our 2010

2010 has been a pretty packed year for tech. Streaming video came into its own with radically improved content choices and affordable living room hardware devices, Android and Apple's iOS dominated the cell phone market, the mobile app markets show no sign of slowing down and the iPad revealed a huge demand for tablets. We here at Switched have taken a look back over the past 12 months and each picked our favorite new device, app or technology. Share your can't-live-without tech from 2010 in the comments.


Thomas Houston: Simplenote

simplenote While I developed an unhealthy addiction to 'Solipskier' and ignored friends and family to watch all four seasons of 'Battlestar Galatica' in an embarrassingly short amount of time, a bare-bones service is my top find of the year. Simplenote does one thing -- text syncing -- exceedingly well. I've jumped from Office and Google Docs to Evernote and Yojimbo and countless other apps over the years for organizing my work and personal writing, ideas and lists, but most require at least one too many steps to keep things synced. For years, e-mailing myself notes and ideas was usually the best option. While making coffee, I can use the iPhone app to enter a thought to one of several long-running lists that will be synced automatically to the cloud. When I sit down to work, it'll already be synced and accessible on my computer (via the website or Notational Velocity app). Everything can be tagged and is fully searchable, and it's been a huge relief to finally have most of my important text documents reachable from any device without the need to plug, sync, download or upload anything.

Leila Brillson: Music Experimentation

GOOD FridayKanye West launched G.O.O.D Friday, Robyn released 'Body Talk' on the go, and even Gorillaz created an album on the iPad before unleashing it on world for free. Three or four years ago, the music industry was atrophying and anemic, getting walloped by piracy and Pandora both. But now artists (along with creative, interactive marketing plans) are breathing new life into an industry that was forced, violently, to reinvent itself. People are beginning to pay money for experiences, but are also (rightfully) expecting something free. RCRD LBL encourages album hype by letting listeners download singles without pay. Call me idealistic, but it seems like musicians realized that they are artists and were lucky to be commanding the attention of the world, which led to experimentation (like Robyn producing an album on tour, or Girl Talk crashing his own servers by offering a free record). G.O.O.D Friday, which was West's way of releasing a set of songs each Friday to his devoted Twitter followers, stirred the hype of his blockbuster 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.' Is the music industry perfect? Hell no. But visionaries are finding ways to make money and garner acclaim -- and consumers are glad to pay, as long as they are paying for something worthwhile.

Matt Zuras: iPad

iPad Fine, I'll say it: the iPad is the best tech of 2010. Listen, the Internet is going to kill the printed page no matter what -- as we said exactly one year ago, the death knell for physical books has already been rung. And yes, Kindles and NOOKs and Sony e-readers will help to keep people literate, but the iPad has that multi-functional appeal without which our newly digital-ADD-addled brains can't live. And, when the robots start their attacks a little over a year from now, we'll be able to light our way through the safety of the darkened sewers by the glow of our tablets, frozen on a digitized page of T.S. Eliot or 'Twilight,' towards a new home.

Terrence O'Brien: Streaming Video

Hulu and Netflix on Roku Technically, I suppose, it all started in 2009. In November of last year, I gave up on cable. I moved into a new apartment and left the shackles of subscription-based television behind -- and I couldn't have picked a better year. In 2010, streaming media finally went mainstream. Hulu and Netflix were offering premium, Web-based, HD streaming services; Apple brought streaming TV show rentals to iTunes; Google finally got into the set-top box game. While some of the software and hardware like the Boxee Box, Apple TV, Google TV and Roku have some maturing to do, the content is there. With just a few exceptions, most popular shows on network TV and basic cable are available online, often for free and in HD. 2010 wasn't the year that the Internet killed cable, but it's certainly proved subscription TV is purely optional, even for frequent viewers.

Evan Shamoon: Downloadable Games

Downloadable Games The "downloadable games revolution" that has for so long been promised finally arrived for real in 2010. The absolute flood of quality titles ran across all platforms: From gems like 'Solipskier' on iPhone and Android, to the spectacular 'LIMBO' on Xbox Live Arcade, to PC games big ('Mass Effect 2') and small ('Super Meat Boy') on the Steam download service, there's been simply more instantly-accessible gaming available in 2010 than could be played by a single pair of hands. The wild success of games like 'Angry Birds' has served to drive the point home: Even big publishers like EA and Activision have redoubled their investments in the downloadable games space, and such high-profile titles as 'Rage' and 'Infinity Blade' (from top PC developers iD and Epic) have upped the ante on mobiles. Expect big things in 2011.

Jon Chase: Rise of Apps

Apps Among the magical buzzwords that regularly pollute our conversations and sully communications, "app" is certainly at the top of the list. And yet, to my mind, that hype is only going to increase in the coming years -- and rightly so, as others fully discover (like I did this year) that there really is an app for everything. My morning ritual of checking e-mail, calendar appointments, industry news, general news, gossip sites, whatever -- it's all quickly, cleanly and neatly done via apps. Sure, they've been around a few years already (and many years in the form of desktop widgets), but the App Revolution is for real. Along with touch-based interfaces, it represents one of the most exciting user interface paradigm switches (buzzzz!) for computing since the introduction of the mouse. Finally, the Web works the way I want it to, and I'm not looking back.

Matt Evans: Android

Android I was really buying into those Verizon iPhone rumors around March when I decided to hold out on renewing with Verizon, in hopes I could snatch a new iPhone when I re-upped with the carrier. With no iPhone in sight, though, I skipped waiting, stayed on Verizon and chose Android instead. With my trusty Droid Incredible in hand, I was ready to do everything that a person bestowed with an iPhone could do -- buy apps, launch angry birds, check e-mail and tweet. But I had one huge advantage: the operating system running on my phone was open source. In 2010, it is this reason alone that Android phones have grown to hold 25-percent of the worldwide market share of smartphones. The flexibility of Android opened up a huge market for hardware manufacturers, such as HTC, allowing them to build a solid fleet of phones that individually have worked better for certain groups of people. If 2010 was a growth year for Android, expect 2011 to only be more full of little green robots and sweet-inspired (Gingerbread, anyone?) OS updates.

Tags: android, EverNote, features, gorillaz, hgg, hulu, kanye west, KanyeWest, music industry, MusicIndustry, NoteTaking, productivity, robyn, streaming, streaming video, StreamingVideo, yearinreview

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