Once again, we’re entering the season of lists, starting with the season of thanks. For me, this year’s tech gratitude installment reflects a year of change: less social media and more media creation on one front and new devices, new places, and new people on another.
It can be challenging in such a turbulent world to find the good stuff, but between everything else, these little bits made me happy this year. Hopefully, they can do the same for you.
I was initially a bit hesitant when another author recommended Grammarly to me, but he was so adamant about it that I signed up anyway. I’m glad I folded – this spellcheck-on-steroids tool was a godsend when writing the final draft of Simply Put, and it’s continued to save my butt daily on blog posts, emails, and everything else.
It’s no secret that the app formally known as Twitter has taken a drastic turn for the worse over the past year. Because of those bad vibes, when I got my new phone a couple of months ago, I simply never logged back into that app. I was free – but also somewhat bored?
To fill in the “crumb time” deficit left by that app, I wanted something a little heartier, and I found the answer in Apple News+. For just a few bucks a month, it gives you access to hundreds of publications, a bunch of audio content, offline support for magazines, and even a couple of little games. It’s completely worth it.
Since the book launch, I’ve been recording dozens of podcast interviews, and I’ve been slowly upgrading my setup for all of that. First, there was a (pretty good, actually!) cheap no-name microphone from Amazon, but like Grammarly before, I eventually caved to the advice of a podcast host and upgraded to the Shure MV7. It sounds fantastic, works like a charm, and looks sleek and professional.
Battery anxiety is real. When I’m traveling or even just having a busy day around town, I’ve often thrown a little pouch with a battery pack and wires into my bag as an insurance policy. But that thing was bulky and cumbersome, with wires always falling out everywhere. A few weeks ago, I saw this deck-of-cards-sized, MagSafe-compatible battery pack (that also doubles as a stand) in a TikTok video and grabbed one for myself. It just works.
Speaking of traveling, this eSIM app has been a complete game-changer. When you’re sitting in the airport, pop it open, find the country you’re going to, select a plan, and poof – for like ten bucks, your phone works anywhere in the world. Airalo feels like magic in a way that many things in tech don’t anymore.
Your birthday used to be the “best day of the year on Facebook” when wall posts flooded in from all corners of your social network. As many younger people stopped using the platform, an unintended consequence was that we forgot everybody’s birthdays. I tried adding a bunch to my personal calendar, but I’m grateful that LinkedIn has picked up the slack and adopted this tiny, helpful feature.
I will end this year’s list on a bit of a tangent. Thanks to European regulations such as the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, tech is becoming a little bit friendlier in a number of ways. The EU is why we have USB-C on the new iPhones, meaning one less cord to carry around. Just recently, Apple announced that it will adopt RCS on iMessage, which means that the days of blue vs. green bubble discrimination are numbered. There’s been discussion on establishing a “Right to Repair,” new rules prevent all sorts of abuses of user data, and other policies are aimed at fighting misinformation. While these rules aren’t perfect, we should all be thankful that somebody is sticking up for us users.