31 December 2009

My tech wishlist for 2010

As the year draws to a close, everybody (more-or-less) reviews the past year and launches predictions for the next. I don't think I'm qualified to make predictions and if I did, they will probably fail miserably. So I will just list a couple of features I would like to see in the applications I use most often:

  1. Even as the best web-based email client, GMail could still improve in some areas like:
    • Adding an option to remove attachments from the message body, or better yet allow users to detach the file and save it in an online service. Currently you can do this with Thunderbird, but it's complicated and not very "Web 2.0";
    • Clean up the "More actions"-menu from the Spam folder. Seriously, who adds Tasks from spam?! Just use the menu from "Trash", that one is a perfect fit;
    • Extend the chat-to-SMS function to other countries.
    • Add an option to reply without quoting the original message text, at least in Labs. Since Gmail groups the emails together, you will be able to see the history even if you don't carry it around with every message.
  2. In Google Calendar my biggest annoyance right now is how it truncates event descriptions to fit them into the interface. I think it would be fairly easy to show the full event description when hovering it, both in the month and in the week views. The "Contacts' birthdays" calendar also needs some work: it ignores the birth year and displays birthdays even before the people were actually born! It should also display other dates listed in Google Contacts like anniversaries.
  3. I have written previously about enhancements I expect from Google Reader; these remain on my personal wish list for now. But the most important thing the Reader team should work on is a clear improvement of the social features. I'm not a big fan of them, because I use RSS feeds mainly as an information source, but if they decided to get into this game, I want to see a good implementation, without all the problems users are having with subscribing and commenting on others' shared items.
  4. Google Docs really needs a more consistent interface across it's sub-apps:
    • I like the "Compact view" introduced in Spreadsheets that keeps menus and buttons visible and also the new formula bar. But it's extremely annoying that these views are not preserved when you reopen the document, causing users to lose time setting up their workplace over and over again.
    • Another feature that deserves improvement is the HTML editing: using a pop-up window feels unnatural and blocks access to the find-and-replace tools. The best solution in my opinion would be to replace the document text with the HTML code; also the interface should bring highlighting for HTML tags and a quick way to insert them.
  5. Brizzly already introduced some of the improvements I previously suggested, like translation of tweets and auto-complete for the status box.
    • Right now I still miss a conversation view for the @-replies most, it's the single reason I keep using HootSuite occasionally.
    • Another idea I sent to the Brizzly team is to offer location-aware trends, for the user's country or city. It would be an interesting way to combine trends with geolocation data and the information would become much more relevant to users outside the US. A recently launched site that filters tweets for a number of Romanian cities, Urban Tweet, has a similar approach and it quickly became popular during the recent presidential elections.
  6. Facebook should be better at search, says The AppsLab and I fully agree with that article. I mentioned earlier some things I would improve in Facebook, inspired by FriendFeed, and it seems they will be slowly moving in that direction. First step: replying to status updates via email. But my biggest future expectation is actually something anti-Facebook: I want to see some real competition for the social network, before it takes over the entire world, one country at a time.
  7. Lately I've been growing fond of FriendFeed; hopefully it will be allowed to survive and will continue to innovate, even as a testing ground for future Facebook features.

What is on your wishlist for the next year?

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