When was the last time you were actually excited about some software or an app? Usually, when something new arrives, it has to rely on a gimmick to make people talk about it and be considered as “cool”. Remember Prisma? That simple photo editing app with mind blowing filters? Or the augmented reality of Pokemon Go? It was fun for a week or two. The problem with gimmicks is that they quickly run out of steam.
More often than not, great software is boring as hell. It does the job right and it’s kinda “there”. You stop noticing it, despite using every day. Because usually, such software is a tool: it’s not meant for fun, but for work. But does that mean that such apps and software can’t at least try bringing in some joy to us? We have to stare at it all day long, so why not make this experience more enjoyable? If that’s something you’d want to see, here are 7 apps that take your everyday software and wrap its usefulness into a more pleasant package.
1. Word processing
When Medium first launched it has managed to attract a significant crowd of writers partially because of the clean and minimalist interface, which was both effective and pleasant to look at. But in reality, writing apps haven’t changed that much in decades. They are basically the same when it comes to features and the only new thing they could offer was the above-mentioned minimalism.
While the Hemingway App is a perfect writer app that will check and suggest you how to improve your writing, The Most Dangerous Writing App is something completely different. As if you weren’t feeling enough pressure already, this online app will start deleting your text the moment you stop typing it. Good luck checking the Facebook feed even for a second because you risk losing all the hard-written text you were working on. When all the site-blocking extensions fail to help you concentrate on your work, The Most Dangerous Writing App will certainly deal away with your procrastination habits.
2. Web browser
A web browser is possibly the most frequently used app on your PC. Because of all web apps which sometimes are as powerful as their desktop alternatives, you don’t even need to install anything. As long as you have a stable Internet connection, you can do almost any work online. That’s the underlying concept behind Chrome OS which is basically a Chrome web browser sans the resource sluggish OS. But browsers haven’t changed that much in years: you have a tabbed interface, bookmarks, and what a browser lacks in functionality, you can compensate with extensions.
Recently Opera has tried to dilute the boring browsers routine with a new concept browser called Neon. Opera Neon does several things differently than all the other browsers: instead of a traditional Opera’s speed dial, you get a bubble-like start page UI with a transparent background so you’ll finally see your wallpapers more often. The whole idea behind Neon is to embrace that a browser is the central hub of your Internet activity. It lets you save screenshots inside a browser, you get a dedicated music player for online streaming and the whole browser actually feels lighter in appearance compared to the big-hitters. Opera Neon is more a proof of a concept than something you’ll be using as a daily driver. But if this concept gains some following, we might expect the mainstream Opera browser to implement some of the ideas showcased in Neon.
A recently released Bear note taking app is a beautiful alternative to both. Some say that it’s what Apple Notes should have been from the start and it’s easy to see why. Bear combines the productivity of an easy to search through notebook app with markdown support and a sleek design any Apple fan will immediately fall in love with. If that’s not enough, there’s a bunch of themes you can select from and tune up Bear to your taste. I’d really like to see a more cross-platform support for the app (as well as a web version), but that might be further down the plans. As for now, Bear might be a great replacement for you the next time Evernote announces the next big change in how it works.
4. CRM system
There’s hardly a more boring piece of software than any customer relationship management system you or your sales team uses. A CRM doesn’t have to be beautiful to perform its function, but so does notebooks. Unfortunately, a CRM has to be able to provide a wide range of functionality which is rather difficult to put in a nice wrapper. So they have to look in some other direction to make it interesting without sacrificing the functionality.
NetHunt combines the CRM functionality with a Gmail inbox. With most client communication happening via emails, it makes sense to cut the middleman and use those emails as a fuel for the system. The app turns emails into deals or clients and presents the sales pipeline as a kanban board, similar to Trello. Being email-centric, NetHunt also adds native mass mailing and email tracking to pump-up Gmail with the email ninja features.
5. Email client
Emails are one of the most universally hated things online. We’ve tried to get rid of them with different messengers and Slack, but they aren’t going away anytime soon. So you either embrace emails or… you find a better way of dealing with them.
Geronimo is an iPhone and Apple Watch app that puts a touch-friendly email management front and center in an even crazier fashion than Google Inbox. The point of Geronimo is to group all your emails by days and let you decide on what to do with each one by pulling messages into different hot corners of the app. So, instead of just swiping an email to archive it, you’ll need to drag it to one of the top corners. Other corners let you delete messages, add them to the in-app ToDo list and even set up your own hot corners for the actions you need. Unfortunately, as of now, Geronimo isn’t available from the App Store, but the developers promise to bring it back and, maybe, we’ll get a decent redesign with more features and integrations in it.
6. ToDo list
Productivity apps have been on the rise for at least a decade now and ToDo lists and apps are on top of the charts. But not all of us manage to complete our lists in time either because they are too lengthy or because we simply forget to occasionally check them out. Maybe it’s because of the lack of some sort of incentive? Maybe we need a totally different approach that combines productivity and fun?
Hideo Kojima, a renowned game designer behind the Metal Gear Solid series and the upcoming Death Stranding game, has actively started pushing the concept of Homo Ludens (a “playing human”) into the masses. There’s nothing new about this concept (as it was introduced in 1938), but today it’s more obvious than ever that games have become an even greater element of our lives. Habitica is a ToDo app which adds RPG elements to your standard list. Here your tasks become quests and by completing them you receive a reward – experience points and gold. With it, you level up your in-game avatar, buy new gear for it, and compete with other users of Habitica. It’s a fun little app where you can combine your work, personal tasks, and even try building a habit out of regular activities when all other boring lists have failed.
7. Resume builder
Some say that CV is dead. That LinkedIn is your new resume. I’d like to agree, but this dull piece of paper which depicts most of your life is still the first thing your future employer will see. So each time you’re looking for a new job (or even the first one) firing up Microsoft Word to write a resume is as depressing as the end result. There are thousands of cool CV designs floating the web but you’ll need some time to find the one you like, edit, and fill in.
Canva – one of the best image editors for social media – might make your job-seeking days (weeks or, I’m sorry, months) into a more pleasant experience. While you might have used it for editing images, Canva also boasts a nice collection of appealing resume designs that are simple to navigate, easy to fill in, and will most certainly catch and eye of an HR department which has seen more than enough bland papers. The rest is up to your skills and experience, but you have only once chance to make a positive first impression.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.