We asked our editors and contributors to create a blue-sky wishlist for all things productivity and software in 2009. Read on for their responses, and to contribute your own do-wants for the new year.
We asked our respondents to be realistic—more "Gmail gets better RSS features" than Brain-Reading Omega Organizer—but also think in broader terms about what would help them get more things done, or just live their lives a bit easier. Here's what they had to say:
Photo by le.
Stronger filters and easier ways to hear from people and about thing I care about, like:
- Facebook friend prioritisation based on communication frequency, auto-prioritising mentions of stuff I like (like "triathlon" or "Mad
- Auto-email smarts—make that important message from the boss or my Mum jump out because I've established that this is a VIP-to-me without manually setting up a filter.
- Better contact unification and management all around, so I know that Kevin Purdy on Facebook is this guy who emailed me is this guy on Twitter is this guy in my Mac's Address Book is this guy who's in this photo.
More cloud computing and data storage, but also more privacy and security around it, like:
- A faster, better way for Google to verify your identity and restore revoked account access (so fewer Google Account lockouts with delayed restoration).
- Easier ways to identify what info I want to share with whom (like my location).
- A personal data-sharing audit: like a credit report, a list of what apps/services/etc are requesting and getting private details about me and how often.
Random feature requests:
- (Of course!) Copy and paste on the iPhone, and better homescreen customisation on the iPhone, a la Android.
- Android on more (and better) handsets.
- Extensions in Chrome (that's coming!).
- GrandCentral to come out of invite-only beta.
- Windows 7 to right all the wrongs that Vista incurred on Windows users.
- Extensions in Chrome—if only for better tab control, Foxmarks, and the (thankfully) inevitable Remember the Milk add-on.
- A few Linux (or Ubuntu-specific) fixes, like better dual-monitor support when using graphics accelerators, a less-buggy Avant Window Navigator, consistent font rendering and notifications, and improved Office 2007 support in WINE/CrossOver. (But, really, that's it!)
- More and better Android-based handsets on different carriers—or, hey, just port over Lenovo's O-phone to the U.S., por favor.
- A seamless app for creating passwords using a scheme (like Gina's system), storing and encrypting them, and then pasting them into any on-screen app—basically, the security-plus version of Texter.
- A serious revolution in battery power and recharging efficiencies—even if it's only a laptop revolution. The blog-from-anywhere fantasy really falls apart after the first dozen times you have to do the Coffee Shop Outlet Stalk.
- A minimum of three hours studying and practicing the art and craft of knife sharpening. Because there are 40 major opinions on how to do it, but only one way to know for sure.
"I want more data portability and interoperability. I don't want to have to upload things multiple times to different sites. I don't want to check multiple inboxes. I don't want to have three voicemail boxes. I don't want to feel like I'm constantly handling and rehandling data, contacts, etc. .... For an over stretched professional it's just too big of a pain in the arse to try out something new (that may end up being very helpful and revolutionise your workflow) if it means hours or days of wrangling data from one system to another and so on ... Unless my mum can set up a unified inbox without
calling me and eventually having me come over and help her do it, I don't consider it a practical solution
On a related note... I love seeing things emerge like GPS enabled to-do lists that remind you when you're in physical proximity to the task at hand and so forth. I want to see that pushed further and
further. I want a personal digital assistant that makes suggestions. I want to feel like the real power of modern computers, the cloud, and the enormous amount of data out there is being harnessed. car shopping, etc."
Lifehacker Alumnus, About.com Web Search Guide
"I would love to see an application developed that's similar to OpenID, except for job search engines and job search sites. My husband is currently looking for a new position (sys admin, any takers? Bueller? Bueller?) and it's extremely tiresome to fill out forms over and over. Sure, Roboform works in some cases, but for the most part it doesn't.
I'd also love for Google to include more clustering in their search results, much like Clusty or Ask.com. This would definitely cut down on the spammy results that seem to be more and more prevalent, and would certainly be more effective than the latest Google "innovation" of voting results up or down."
"I've never been one to rely on technology for my productivity. I'm not into finding the next, best GTD application, for example. Most of my productivity comes from good, old-fashioned elbow grease. I find a little hard work and discipline every day more helpful than any Gmail trick, to-do application or keyboard short cut. Having said all of that, I'm really looking forward to seeing software, like Cultured Code's Things, work really well on my iPhone. I'm spending more and more time away from my laptop (aka my Back Up Brain) and I need my mobile device of choice to carry more of the weight. I've got high hopes for 2009 being a year where mobile software (iPhone- and productivity-specific or not) really comes into its own."
The How-To Geek
- Gmail authentication of Paypal's email servers would reduce spam/phishing.
- An Android Phone from Verizon.
- Global shortcut keys for Digsby.
- Remember the Milk integration with Outlook.
"In 2009, I'd love to see more anti-technology technology: applications that don't add a supposed "layer of convenience" on top of my existing tools, but actually pull a layer out from the middle, simplifying rather than offering flexibility or functionality. For instance, I don't want more information about my Twitter or email, I want fewer places to not only check but interact with (preferably relevant) incoming messages.
Much as I enjoy software that adds nuance to my workflow, I'd love to see more tools that take little nurturing but manage to decrease the amount of time I spend overall, much like a pill that you take every day, recognising its essential value without working too hard to get it."
Contributor, performance trainer, consultant
"Do you know how sometimes people sit in meetings and don't give their full attention to the discussion topics? The 'Killer Productivity App' of 2009 would be less a gadget, and more a mindset—a mantra, really:
'I'm easily capturing next actions and multi-step projects as they appear.'
Any tool or system that I see work - that is a tool or system that people actually work - must incorporate that focus. So, going into the next 12 months, I personally am going to be working over time to manage my words...to promise AND deliver, every time."
That's what our own stable of productivity and software thinkers came up with for their 2009 wishlists. What do you really want to see in the new year? Is it a specific app or gadget, a system that could use a reboot, or something that's just not there? Tell us about it in the comments.