At the end of the year all your favourite sites post their "Best of" lists and those mammoth "Year in review" articles. I'm still going through some on my reading list and realise how people keep mentioning the same names over and over. A bit tired of this approach, in 2012 I deviated from the idea and wrote a recap of all the hardware, Kickstarters and miscellaneous gadgets I collected during the year to see how they fared after only 12 months.
For 2013 I wanted to go through all my posts of of the year and handpick those that I find particularly interesting, think they contribute with something new and that readers and developers would appreciate. I can think of a couple of articles off the top of my head that make me specially proud. The worrying issue is when I ask Google Analytics to show me the most popular content of the year and see close-to-zero overlap with my imaginary list.
How could it be that the best content is kept hidden from the majority of the readers? Could it be that I don't recognise what people like? After some thinking and reading others' year round-up post, I find reassurance on Touch Arcade's top stories of 2013. As Eli Hodapp explains with a very clever comparison, people are craving guides.
The curious thing about 2013 has been the rise in popularity of free to play guides. It makes sense, really, as while I remember being super excited for Nintendo Power published game walkthroughs in the 90's, these are sort of the same.
In the top posts for AppFreak I see exactly the same phenomenon: people want to read about stuff that saves them money. While I like to figure out the mechanics of good free-to-play games with things like 'Making the most of your Real Racing 3 gold coins', I enjoy even more helping readers to make the most out of their devices. In no particular order, these were my favourite HowTo and workflow style posts of 2013:
Best on gaming
Keeping in touch with the mobile gaming community and being able to share my thoughts is just as important as helping people out. I get the impression I have reviewed more apps than games — blame all those new apps ready for iOS 7 — but still managed to finish and post about a decent amount of new games. Instead of just listing my favourites, let's give them some fun awards:
Most cohesive videogame production Award and Game of the Year
Best on apps and productivity
On the utilities and productivities app front, the highlight of the year has been the conversion to match new interface standards for iOS 7. Only now I noticed that all the apps I have shortlisted are not real new apps released in 2013, just sequels or refreshes of existing ones. These posts came either on a traditional review format or on a tutorialish style, which is a format I'm experimenting with. It's basically outlining what the app does and focus on a couple of features in more detail without an attempt to cover everything.
Fantastical - Calendar and reminders
Citymapper - Journey planning and navigation
Terminology - Dictionary, thesaurus and reference
Groceries - Shopping lists
Instapaper - Read later, text parser
Reeder - RSS feed client
Dark Sky - Weather forecasts
Interviews and ramblings
All the writing about software is often dressed with information about the people behind it, the creators and the users. Federico Viticci puts it perfectly in this quote from his review of The Magazine:
When people ask me about my job, I usually reply: “I write about technology”.
And then I add: “But it’s really more about the people”.
Some of the ideas from conferences, game conventions and meeting people resulted in more unusual writing. I certainly haven't mastered the interview technique but managed to speak to very interesting people like Hannes Jensen, Jonas Lieben, Scott Stephens and Martin Dimov.
Game monetisation and free-to-play * A disservice to freemium gaming
Interface design and iOS 7
Top image: Peter Guyan