The best tools and apps from 2016 — a personal roundup.

by Niklaus Gerber
also appeared
on my personal mailing list.

People who work with me know that I am such a geek when it comes to the latest tools or apps. I try as many apps as I can and I am constantly shifting the way I am working. The ultimate goal is to get more efficient with the things I am doing. But there are also tools that are here to stay. I present you my roundup for 2016 with the tools I couldn’t have done it without.

Asana — my task management workhorse

I love the way to work visually. Thus I love Trello. You will find an older blog post where I wrote about my experience with Asana. I switched to Trello because working with boards felt more organic. A couple of weeks ago Asana introduced boards and won me back. Not only do I have to power of a list and calendar based task management but I can use a beautifully crafted board experience.

Asana boards are far from perfect but they do have one thing I am missing in Trello. One card or task can be assigned to multiple projects and can move individually on the corresponding boards. This saves me a tonne of time with managing duplicated cards. I know that Asana takes some time to get used to but it is such a powerful work tool.

Winner: Asana
Runner-up:
Trello

Spark — one heck of a mail client

There is only one email experience that works for me. Google Inbox is by far the best email client. Unfortunately, I am stuck with Office365 at work. Even tough their iOS-App is great, features do not translate to the web or desktop version. I was always hoping Spark would come with a desktop client.

Spark is a rock solid email solution. I used Newton and I used Polymail. Neither of them come even close in robustness, slickness and performance. Also, I have the feeling that Spark really tries do solve user pains.

Winner: Spark
Runner-up:
Newton

Canvas — the ultimate writing environment

Canvas makes it easy to collaborate with anyone in the blink of an eye. Just share the link to a canvas. Then it’s just a matter of typing.

Why not use Google Docs? Fair question. Canvas is something else for me. Google Docs is like word. I generate page-based documents. All G-Suite products also made this list but Canvas has a different feel to it. It is blazing fast, sharing is just copying the URL from the browser bar and everything is completely hackable. I love writing in Markdown and I found no other tool where I generate documents that quickly. Canvas is always open in my browser window.

Winner: Canvas
Runner-up:
iA Writer and Notion

G-Suite — replaces any Microsoft Office product

G-Suite from Google is a collection of different productivity tools. They are all lightweight, incredibly fast and reliable and come with tonnes of functionality. Inbox is an unparalleled email experience. Google Docs provides the best collaborative writing experience I know and Google Sheets beats Excel on so many levels.

3 years ago I could not think about leaving any of the Microsoft Office products behind but today I am doing all my heavy document lifting on G-Suite.

Winner: G-Suite
Runner-up: none

Skore — my knowledge hub

If Evernote and Pinterest had a baby

Skore is a knowledge sharing platform for teams. Besides adding any link from the web, you can upload any file from your computer or even create your own wiki-style notes. You can use a Pinterest-like template for something that is more open and exploratory for the topics you want people to browse through. But you can also use our course template and create a very focused and sequenced learning experience.

Winner: Skore
Runner-up:
Evernote

Feedbin — weapon of choice RSS-reader

Apparently, nobody uses RSS anymore. I do not know how to stay up to date without it. I subscribed to all my news sources over RSS and get my daily updates directly via RSS. I tried many different solutions but Feedbin is my favorite service to manage all my RSS needs.

It is incredibly fast, hackable and offers a ton of features. It has an outstanding sharing integration and a designated email address so you can also send newsletter directly into Feedbin.

Winner: Feedbin
Runner-up:
Feedly

Revue — revolutionised my newsletter

Did you ever want to have an own newsletter? Revue makes it extremely easy to gather and send out content. There is not much option for customisazion but it will make the process of preparing, editing and sending out quality newsletter incredibly satisfying. I almost gave up on my weekly newsletter until I stumbled over Revue.

Winner: Revue
Runner-up:
Mailchimp

1Password — best password manager I know

Before you continue reading this article you should absolutely read «Do These 4 Things to Stay Safe Online». There are a lot of good password manager out there. But for me 1Password is proven — it still hasn’t had any major leak, and hasn’t been compromised yet.

Besides the master-password of 1Password I do not know any of my logins. I change most of them every 2–3 months, use TwoFactor-Auth and keep them between 30 and 70 characters long. Event if you do not go for 1Password you should still go for another good solution.

Winner: 1Password
Runner-up:
Dashlane

AText — saving me time for anything I am typ…

aText accelerates your typing by replacing abbreviations with frequently used phrases you define. I have over 80 abbreviations ready which I am using all the time. For example

  • #mail = expands into my personal email address
  • #bmail = expands into my business email address
  • #sgp = spits out my complete personal email signature
  • #story = is a half page template for writing the perfect JIRA-Story
  • #lorem = spits out one whole paragraph of Lorem Ipsum text

You have no idea how much time you loose rewriting or copy and pasting the same stuff over and over again. A real time saver.

Winner: aText
Runner-up:
Textexpander

Manageyum — keeping me sane while working with group chats

I am part of 5 Slack Teams, I am using Asana, Trello, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger etc. So I could either have all these Apps open on my Desktop or clutter my browser with active tabs. That is why I am a big fan of Manageyum.

Manageyum is a desktop app the makes it possible to manage all your apps in one place. The handy overview tab helps you to quickly figure out what you missed. A real time saver.

Winner: Manageyum
Runner-up:
Franz

Hazel — my personal housekeeper and butler

Hazel watches whatever folders you tell it to, automatically organising your files according to the rules you create. It can open, archive, tag and even upload any file on your computer. You can have Hazel rename your files or sort them into subfolders based on name, date or whatever combination of attributes you choose.

I lost count how many things Hazel is doing in the background. But it does a lot. Once you start using it there is no working without it.

Winner: Hazel
Runner-up: Maybe Automator

Sip —all my colours in one place

Sip is an easy way to collect, organise & share your colours. The little menu bar apps comes with tones of features. Color dock, multiple palettes and a handy editor.

It not only gives you the possibility to manage your colours but also to export them in multiple formats.

Winner: Sip

CloudApp — dragging, dropping, sharing, done

CloudApp is a nifty little app that lives in your menu bar. You can basically upload anything to a cloud service and you get instantly a shareable link. It supports screen capture GIFs, HD screen recordings, and screenshots. You can give quick feedback and get your point across faster with annotations.

I used to be a huge Droplr fan but CloudApp comes with a Google Photos like visual search. This makes it so much more powerful.

Winner: CloudApp
Runner-up:
Droplr


So this is it. My list for 2016. Is there a tool you think I missed? Do you have any great suggestions? Let me know so I can once more change half my tools in 2017.

Niklaus Gerber is a problem solver that likes to think outside the box. He is a digital architect focussed on making the complex clear & beautiful. Niklaus is specialised in digital innovation and creating and developing software products.

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.