10 services you should be using in 2013
Each year brings with it a host of start-ups and services for the tech savvy and web friendly to have a play with, and 2012 has been no different. Some have been sitting around for years and have only just gained popularity, others are hot off the press.
Ultimately, the when and the where of these things matter not. The point is, what are the services that you should be using in 2013? Whether brand new or something you really ought to be signed up to by now, here’s 10 from Pocket-lint that we suggest you become familiar with in the coming 12 months.
Microsoft has had quite the revamp over 2012 and, like it or not, the company has made itself more relevant again. If you use Hotmail, a Windows Phone, a Windows 8 PC or even just own an Xbox, then SkyDrive is something that you should be using. SkyDrive has gone from simply a Dropbox alternative to something that’s so hard-baked into these MS platforms that it’s almost impossible not to use it. So, install it on your desktop and get to know this service properly. It’s here to stay.
An Instagram alternative
Now Facebook owned, we’ve already seen the threat of what Instagram might do, with its recent attempt to change the terms and conditions of the user agreement. Yes, this time the company backed down but, if clever, there will be a team working on how to slip these things in more subtly next time. The answer, then, is to find and explore yourself a back-up photo service. Whether it’s the social side of the platform or the easy post-production, there are plenty of options on offer. Try Snapseed, Twitter, Hipster, StreamZoo and many others.
Probably the biggest success service of the year has been Kickstarter. The site began some time ago but it’s arrival in the UK in 2012 has made it all the more accessible to tech fiends on these shores. If you’ve already invested in a project, then you’re probably waiting for it to turn up some time in 2013. If you haven’t, then surf the pages of the site and see if you can find something that tickles your fancy.
BBC iPlayer and the other channel on-demand services can be a little hit and miss when it comes to watching live TV. For TVCatchup, on the other hand, it’s bread and butter stuff. The service has been on the case since 2008 but, as of recent times, now has apps on just about every major platform - meaning that it’s an absolute must for telly addicts in 2013. Tablets at the ready.
Boxing Day 2012 set the record for UK visits to retail sites, proving that online shopping is what the nation is after these days. You may not like Amazon’s tax avoiding tactics, but if you’re still happy to shop with the web giant you simply must sign up to the Amazon Prime service, if you haven’t already. It’s 50 quid for the year and guarantees you next-day delivery for free for a huge heap of the products available. Last-minute shopping without any of the fuss.
Another service to arrive on UK doorsteps in 2012 was Change.org. Change is a petition creation and hosting platform that charges big companies for the privilege but is free to use for individuals or small groups with a burning cause. This crowd pressure has already created a history of companies making way under the weight of public opinion. So, if you have a problem, if no one else can help...well, you get the picture.
Kiva is a very interesting charitable platform that specialises in loans rather than pure gifting. You put in a stock of money - it doesn’t have to be much - and then choose one of many enterprises or individuals in the developing world to lend that money to. Eventually, you get paid back (hopefully) and can re-loan to someone else. There are still quite a few teething problems to iron out but, at its core, Kiva is a very interesting and fresh take on how to help.
Lookout mobile security
We’ve been terrorised by the antivirus makers for years about the dangers of malware on mobile phones, but it looks as if 2013 is going to be the year when these threats become a reality on your smart device. With daily Android handset activations at a phenomenal level, there are more opportunities for hackers than ever before to go grabbing your details from your phone. One of the easiest ways to do that is with bogus apps, so pick up some free protection in the shape of Lookout Mobile Security. The free version will scan all your downloads to make sure that none of them tries to access contacts, SMS or anything else and there’s a paid-for version with back-up and phone-finding features too.
New social networks pop up as quickly as they disappear but, like it or not (see what we did there?), Pinterest is here to stay. So, if you haven’t signed up, it’s time to jump aboard and and fill in your profile. If you have, then don’t forget to keep pinning.
Plenty have tried and failed to produce a universal chat platform to get all of your IM buddies under one roof. Fortunately, imo seems to have nailed it. So, if you’re not using it already, then 2013 is the time to sign up. There are apps for iOS, Android, Nokia and BlackBerry devices and it spans Skype, Facebook, MSN Messenger, GTalk, Yahoo Chat, Steam, Aim and just about anything you might need.