As technology becomes more prevalent, it becomes more difficult to determine which tools are essential and which qualify as little more than decoration. Naturally, that definition varies greatly depending on your interests. For the tech-obsessed, that means having the coolest, most potentially useful apps and gadgets.
Of course, not all awesome tools come with golden guilt around them. As you’ll soon see, some go almost entirely unnoticed when they’re doing their jobs properly. If you have serious tech needs, this list is for you.
Virtual Private Network
On the less glamorous but extraordinarily useful end, we have the Virtual Private Network (VPN). This is a service that everyone should already be using but is chronically underutilized. Some of that has to do with a reluctance to pay a monthly subscription for a security service, while in other cases it’s simply because few people even know what a VPN is or does.
A VPN is a service that lets you access the internet through a remote server. Most subscriptions run around $10 a month depending on your plan. That’s barely more than a couple of cups of coffee. Yet the benefit is huge: VPNs encrypt your online traffic and make you invisible to hackers, trackers and government censorship.
What’s more, VPNs have their IP addresses based on their locations. This is why you’re anonymous while using one, but it also comes with another great perk. Regionally locked content such as some YouTube videos and Netflix when you’re traveling can be experienced in full. For a full guide on where to get a VPN and how to set it up, Secure Thoughts is a good place to start.
A bit of a forewarning on smartwatches: paying a lot doesn’t necessarily get you better or more useful features. In fact, many of what seem to be the “coolest” smartwatches are loaded with things you’ll never use.
To provide an example, Apple’s watch looks sleek and runs well with the iPhone, but suffers from its interface. Like your phone, it relies on a touch interface. Unlike your phone, it has barely over an inch of screen space. That means typing, swiping and other basic “mobile” features are rather inconvenient. The face is also not “always on,” making it terrible for telling time.
The king of the geeky smartwatches is the Pebble Time. While it may not be as shiny or bright as Samsung or other variants, it is an excellent tool because of its rugged design and ability to do what a watch should do: tell time all the time. The battery lasts for a full week and it displays notifications just as well as the other smartwatches on the market. Additionally, it has physical buttons which are considerably easier to use and a built-in microphone instead of requiring you to type on tiny screen buttons.
As far as apps go, you won’t find a more versatile tool than Evernote. It does more than just let you write down thoughts and ideas. It also lets you record audio, add in external pictures and sync information across multiple devices for use just about anywhere.
It’s also team friendly, allowing people to work together much more effectively without a drop in productivity. It has a free version with many of the good features available, but the premium version has many extra goodies to enjoy.
I debated just going with “virtual reality,” but when it comes to quality, sometimes it’s just better to stick with the name brand. While mobile VR is starting to look good, the Oculus is starting to take things to the next level, especially with the announcement of their new controller.
Their support for third party developers such as Samsung is also driving an increase in market interest for developing virtual mobile games. It seems like a loss to avoid early uptake on this market, as starting early means experiencing all of the cool advancements firsthand.
Obviously, there are many other cool gadgets on the market. If you have some favorites, please feel free to share them in the comments section.
About the Author: Cassie is a tech writer and gadget enthusiast. One of her primary interests is cybersecurity and encouraging other online denizens to protect themselves while accessing the net from the myriad of devices that are now connected.