Just because Google has the best offerings for search, video sharing, and news readers doesn’t mean you have to use them for everything. In fact, if you rely solely on Google for most of your web apps, you are missing out on a bunch of services that are actually considerably better. This article highlights excellent options for task management, productivity software, social bookmarking, social news, chat, blogging, and web calendars that all beat Google’s services.
Task Management: Remember the Milk (5 out of 5)
Google Tasks pops up as an easy add-on for GMail and Google Calendar, but, compared to Remember the Milk, it is underpowered. With Remember the Milk, you can set repeating tasks, organize your tasks into different categories, tag tasks, and even access your tasks within GMail. Although I could not find any in-depth comparisons of the two online, the cursory comparisons all pick Remember the Milk over Google Tasks.
Productivity Suite: Zoho (5 out of 5)
Google Docs is another great example of a Google service that is so easy to get started on due to its integration with Google’s other offerings, but Zoho generally offers better web apps for productivity across the board. Donation Coder’s extremely thorough assessment of word processors clearly favors Zoho Writer for its all-around best features and limited downside. Webtrends on About.com picks Zoho Sheet as the best among a host of online spreadsheets. Finally, Zoho Show also “blows Google Presentation’s socks off” in the arena of online presentation software.
Social Bookmarking: Diigo (5 out of 5)
Yahoo!-owned delicious, not Google Bookmarks, is the biggest player in this arena right now, but Diigo trounces them both. MakeUseOf lists seven reasons why Diigo is better than delicious, and I personally can attest to Diigo’s incredible usefulness. One of the biggest advantages of Diigo is the ability to annotate the webpages you bookmark, a feature Google used to have in their now-defunct Google Notebooks.
Blogging: Wordpress.com (5 out of 5)
Chosen by ConsumerSearch as the best free blog host, Wordpress.com is a breath of fresh air for anyone switching over from Google’s Blogger. This wonderful service is just as easy to use, offers a great community, and, unlike Blogger, offers attractive templates and built-in design tools that make amateur blogger’s work look professional. More serious bloggers appreciate the flexibility of Google’s platform, but most agree that a self-hosted Wordpress blog is the ultimate way to go.
Social News & Status Updates: Twitter (5 out of 5)
Google rolled out Google Buzz earlier this year in an attempt to compete with the increasingly popular Twitter. While Buzz might suffice be a suitable tool for status updates among Google users, it cannot hold a candle to Twitter as a source of social news, which really is Twitter’s strength.
Chat: Meebo (5 out of 5)
Google Talk allows you to chat with Google Contacts and AIM Buddies from within your GMail, but Meebo can access not only these chat contacts but also Yahoo! Contacts, Facebook Friends, and others. Unless your network is limited only to Google and AOL, you will want to use Meebo as your online chat client. For more customization, check out Pidgin, a free desktop chat client with the same reach as Meebo but even more features.
Calendar: 30 Boxes (4 out of 5)
Google Calendar might feel more like a traditional desktop calendar and folks rave about Google Calendar’s integration with GMail, but, as Web Worker Daily describes, 30 Boxes’ integration with everything else Web 2.0 (social networks, blogs, photo sharing, etc.) is unsurpassed. CNET counted 30 Boxes among its Webware Top 100 for 2008, and the Degoogler has chosen it as his replacement for Google Calendar. Unfortunately, development of 30 Boxes seems to have slowed, forcing me to give it merely four stars as a Google alternative.