As I was putting together the list of things I hope to see in 2016, I started thinking about what tech things really made this year work for me. I decided to take a page out of Oprah's book and jot them down. These are not all necessarily things that I found this year or even things that hit the market this year, but as I think back to 2015, they're all things that I love that helped make 2015 better.
- Buffer: Those that follow me on Facebook or Twitter know that I love to share news stories. Things that I find interesting, both good and bad. Sometimes I'll include a personal comment, often times I'll just share. This all happens with the magic of Buffer. Find a like to share, add it to Buffer, and you'll get a beautifully formatted Tweet or Facebook update. Buffer pulls in images, and even suggests the proper time to share it. The magic? Buffer queues these entries to post at that suggested (or any specified) time. Buffer takes it a step further. I know what you're thinking - there's more? Yes - analytics! Using my custom branded Bitly domain landon.co for all URL shortening, combined with counts for likes, shares, reteweets, and favorites from the respective networks, I get awesome analytics around my posts. Now you're thinking I must pay a ton of money every month for this… But I don't! It's free! Check them out.
- Spotify: I'm late to the game. I now have music. Streaming. Downloaded. My choice. I've tried Spotify so many times. But it finally stuck. No joke, I've subscribed and cancelled no less than a dozen times. I sometimes wonder if it's a drinking game somewhere in the Spotify engineering team every time I subscribe and unsubscribe. I want to love Google Music + YouTube Red, and their service is great. But it's not Spotify. Spotify has a few things going for it. The first that comes to mind is user interface. If you've tried Apple Music, you know how bad a streaming service's user interface can be. Hard to understand. Not reliable. Inconsistent experience. Spotify is the inverse of all of these. The other big advantage to Spotify is social. Whether it be shared playlists from both friends and strangers alike, or sharing a link to a friend via Slack, iMessage, or Spotify directly, it's all there. And it's beautiful!
- Square Cash: Free, instant transferring of money between people. That's all you need to know. You should have this app on your phone! Try it free - we can both get $5!
- Southwest's In-Flight Wi-Fi: Until March of this year I hadn't flown Southwest since before the days of in-flight Wi-Fi. I'm an American Airlines guy typically. But I found the Southwest in-flight wi-fi experience to be awesome for two big reasons. Messaging services cost only $2 for the entire flight. Often this is perfect and all I want to be able to do on a flight - keep in basic communication with mere mortals back on the ground. It's a limited selection of services, but Apple's iMessage and WhatsApp stand out as the two big services that were offered. Maybe they'll add Facebook Messenger soon, if they haven't already. The other awesome feature was live TV on my iPad… No app needed! I got live, free TV right there in Safari, just by connecting to Wi-Fi. Well done Southwest!
- AT&T's International Changes: This entry is on both lists - I love the progress that has been made, but really hope to see more as well. As it stands today I can now call Mexico & Canada from the US, send SMS messages to more than 100 countries, and roam in Mexico with 1 GB of data, unlimited voice, and unlimited SMS. All for the same monthly price I was already paying. Definitely not a bad deal! I know I often give AT&T a hard time, but time they get an A+! The Mexico roaming bonus was due to the acquisition of Iusacell and Nextel, and I got to take advantage of this over Christmas just last week. The coverage definitely isn't up to AT&T standards… yet. But they've got the spectrum. Once they let their network teams lose down there, I don't think they'll have any problems taking the #1 carrier spot.