TIME's annual salute to great sites and services
10 Minute Mail
In case its name didn’t give it away, 10 Minute Mail sets you up with a self-destructing email address that expires in — you guessed it — 10 minutes. Your temporary inbox works just like regular email, allowing you to forward and respond to messages, and you can add extra time if 10 minutes isn’t quite long enough. Once you’re done, light a match and walk away.
Any.do is already one of the best task managers for smartphones, and the website is especially useful when you need a big-picture view of your plans. With its grid-based layout, you can easily see everything in Any.do’s four distinct categories (“Today,” “Tomorrow,” “Upcoming” and “Someday”) and drag and drop between them. It’s better than trying to manage your life from a claustrophobic smartphone screen.
For those without serious Photoshop skills, Background Burner does a surprisingly good job of removing background images from photos. You just pick the image you want, and the site automatically figures out what’s in the foreground, presenting a few different levels of background removal to choose from. It’s great for joining the latest Photoshop battle even if you can’t wield a lasso tool.
But Does It Float
This endlessly scrolling art site’s been around for at least five years, but it’s still going strong as a way to let your mind melt for a while. But Does It Float is mindful enough to get out of the way, with short descriptions (“In one way or another, we’re all anchored to the book”) preceding works that often stretch beyond the length of the screen. Whether you like the art or not, you’ve got to appreciate the gallery.
You’re already five slides into this list with 45 more to go. Time for a break! Calm.com lets you toggle through peaceful backgrounds and ambient music, with the ability to set a timer for up to 20 minutes. Chill out on your own, or choose a “guided calm” peppered with soothing spoken instructions.
Amazon’s a one-stop shop for many people, but its prices tend to fluctuate on a fairly regular basis. CamelCamelCamel can set you up with email- and Twitter-based price alerts that let you know when a particular item goes on sale. You can also see a particular item’s 18-month price history to decide whether you should buy it now or wait until it gets even cheaper.
Can I Stream.It?
In a perfect world, the answer to this question would always be “yes.” But we live in a world of timed release windows, exclusive streaming deals and overly cautious movie studios, so finding what you want to watch can be complicated. Can I Stream.It? makes sense of this confusion with a single search engine that works across Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and other providers, telling you whether you’ll need to subscribe, rent, buy or wait.
No, the irony of using a listicle to celebrate a site that satirizes clickbait isn’t lost on us. But ClickHole is more than just a one-off joke at the expense of obnoxious headlines. It’s an ongoing subversion of every site’s attempt to go viral, frequently veering into non-sequiturs and dark humor to make its point. That’s enough to keep us interested, even if major media organizations are in the crosshairs.
Keep an eagle-eyed view on your neighborhood with CrimeReports. The site blends Google Maps with local police data, pinpointing where crimes have recently occurred and which types of crimes they were. Each crime features a send-to-a-friend link so you can let your neighbors know what’s going on, and you can create email alerts to stay informed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Connect FileThis to the various services you use each month — banking, credit cards, utilities and the like — and it’ll automatically pull in your statements and paperwork from each one, storing it all for you online, on your computer or in one of several popular cloud-based storage services. There’s a free plan that connects to six services, with 12- and 30-connection plans running between $2 and $5 per month.
Billing itself as a “health and fitness social network,” Fitocracy turns working out into a game, letting you unlock achievements, take on “quests,” duel other Fitocracy members and level up along the way. You can join a team of other Fitocracy users based on which goals you’re trying to accomplish, facilitating discussion and encouragement between your team and your online coach.
The Flappy Bird craze hit its peak around February of this year, but you’ll still find a fair amount of people playing FlapMMO — arguably the game’s cleverest spin-off. It’s just like the original game, requiring you to tap a button to flap between vertical pipes, except there are dozens of other people controlling their own birds, trying to survive for longer. It’s funny to see all these birds engaged in this hopeless struggle — and kind of sad when you get good enough to leave them behind.
Streaming music service Spotify proudly boasts more than 20 million songs in its catalog, but truth is that no one’s listened to nearly a quarter of those tracks. Forgotify finds those unheard songs and gives them an ear. Even if you don’t end up with great stuff, just think how happy Mustafa Chaushev will be that some hipster in the United States finally listened to his masterwork.
Once known as RapGenius, the site is in the midst of reinventing itself as a place where news, historical documents and cultural artifacts can all be annotated by the crowds. (You might even see some creators swing by to mark up their own work.) But it’s still at its best as a place to dissect the meaning of your favorite song, down to every line.
When it comes to selling your gadgets and video games, Glyde looks to split the difference between auction sites and trade-in sites. The result is that you’ll generally make more money than you would from a trade-in site, with less of a hassle than going through the listing process at auction sites. Once someone commits to buying your stuff, Glyde will ship you a pre-labeled box to fill up and send out.
While Microsoft PowerPoint is still the standard for presentations, using its cluttered interface kind of feels like being trapped in a cubicle. Haiku Deck, by comparison, is actually kind of fun, and doesn’t demand much know-how in order to start creating sharp-looking slideshows. Keep in mind the next time you need to make a presentation outside your nine-to-five.
Have I Been Pwned?
Have I Been Pwned? collects the email addresses and usernames exposed by various high-profile hacks to let you know if your personal data has been compromised. Simply enter an email address or username you commonly use and the site will cross-check it against recent data breaches, telling you which companies leaked your data and which types of data have been leaked.
Hotel WiFi Test
Torture is staying in a hotel with slow wireless access. Hotel WiFi Test relies on travelers to report speed tests back to the service, compiling the data to return average speeds based on each hotel. The site features speeds for hotels in many major cities, and if a hotel hasn’t undergone speed tests, Hotel WiFi Test provides an average expected speed instead.
Humble Bundle got its start a few years ago as pay-what-you-want clearinghouse for indie games. It’s greatly expanded its scope over the last year, with weekly deals, flash sales, book deals and the occasional charity-driven sale from a major publisher. It’s basically a good place to go if you need some geeky entertainment on the cheap.
Imgur should be easier to describe than it is. People go there to upload images and animated GIFs, which are then ranked by popularity. Many of the images are funny. Some give you “the feels,” as Imgurians like to say. There are lots of cats, dogs and other cute animals. At the end of the day, it’s a pure, simple form of storytelling: Without too much reading, you can get a highly entertaining grasp of what’s going on in the world.
Just Delete Me
If you’re like most people, you’re probably signed up for a zillion online services — whether you use them or not. Just Delete Me features cancellation information for oodles of popular sites and services, letting you know which sites are easy, medium, hard or impossible to quit and how to go about removing yourself from each one.
On its face, Medium is just another blogging platform. But its minimalist layout and dead-simple writing tools have quickly turned it into the de facto standard for smart writers who want to say something and don’t have a home for it. And for those who are publishing elsewhere, Medium’s no-clutter interface is still a great place to draft your next story.
Want to know where to find the nearest iPad? Milo scours local stores for a plethora of products, mapping out which stores have what you’re looking for in stock and how much it’ll set you back. You can filter your searches by minimum and maximum price, along with minimum star-ratings for the stores in your neck of the woods.
My 80's TV
Who needs elaborate channel guides and on-demand video when you have big hair and cheesy commercials? My 80’s TV puts you in front of an old-fashioned tube television — complete with knobs for changing channels — and provides a steady stream of ’80s programming. You can even pick the exact year and filter out the kind of shows you want to see.
Imagine creating a mammoth online superstore stocked with products from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Costco, Walgreens, Diapers.com, SOAP and Drugstore.com. That’s the promise of mySupermarket. Cruise through the site and add the items you need to your cart — you’ll see the lowest-priced items available — and when you’re ready to check out, you pay mySupermarket directly, which then facilitates delivery from the aforementioned stores.
We have no idea what Nickelodeon is like now, but Nick Reboot is an exact copy of how the children’s TV channel existed in the late ’80s and early ’90s, right down to the commercials and the station ID messages. The only thing that’s changed is the chat bar on the right side, which lets ’80s babies enjoy the nostalgia trip together. (Nick isn’t involved, but the creator claims it’s legal under fair use.)
Noisli helps you tackle busywork by letting you layer background noises on top of one another. Choose from rain, thunder, wind, lapping waves and several other options while the site’s background color slowly fades from one hue to the next. There’s even a distraction-free text editor that lets you peck out your thoughts without a bunch of buttons and menus getting in the way.
If you can’t seem to sit still while you’re on vacation, Peek serves up a nearly endless list of activities for more than 20 cities around the world. Activities are sorted into groups like “What to do when it rains” or “Under $50,” and there’s a “Perfect Day” section that features hand-picked activities by high-profile experts from each locale.
Persona scours your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts for content you might not want other people — prospective employers, parents, law enforcement — seeing. It’ll reach all the way back to your earliest posts, digging up profanity, drug and alcohol references, adult content and more that you might want to delete. It’ll also monitor your accounts in real time, alerting you to new questionable content as it shows up.
There’s just too much funny viral content to keep track of every day. It’s like a job! Over at Pleated Jeans, Jeff Wysaski rounds up the best of the best, presenting it all with very little commentary. Don’t miss the daily “Funny Pic Dump,” a hodge-podge of amusing images that have popped up across various sites.
Just like Pocket’s phone and tablet apps, the website lets you save online articles and read them later in a clutter-free format. The only thing that’s missing is offline support, but you can get that as well by installing the Pocket web app in Google Chrome.
Though it doesn’t have all the trimmings of Microsoft Word, Quip specializes in helping you get words to paper with minimal effort. It provides just enough editing tools to make your documents look sharp, and an easy way to add comments if you’re looking to collaborate. Your documents also sync automatically to Quip’s phone and tablet apps, and you can export them as PDF or Word files when you’re ready to share your work.
Quirky gleans ideas from designers around the world and turns them into actual products for the home. The result is something like a Sharper Image catalog for the Internet age, with products like a curved surge protector that keeps large AC adapters from blocking their neighboring outlets, and a wine stopper with a stand for laying bottles flat in the fridge. You probably won’t find anything you need, but you might discover something you want.
It’s early days for this site, which lets you search for classic movie quotes along with the relevant video clip. But we’re hoping it quickly expands beyond its current catalog of 143 movies — and that Hollywood doesn’t get antsy and try to shut it down.
If you haven’t tried Rdio before, you have no excuse not to check it out now that it’s completely free on laptops and desktops. Like Spotify, it’s an on-demand service with millions of songs, but its design is top-notch and it’s much better in the browser, as it doesn’t constantly try to force you into a desktop app. Once you get going, be sure to turn on the “You FM” station, which plays a mix based on your past listening behavior.
Feed all of your financial accounts into ReadyForZero and the site will spit back out a customized plan that’ll let you decide which debts to pay down first and see how long it’ll take you to dig out of that soul-crushing hole you’ve gotten yourself into. You can get notifications when bills are due; premium access lets you pay bills directly from the site and features credit-score monitoring as well.
Before you buy anything from an online retailer, RetailMeNot should be your first stop. The site rounds up coupon codes from more than 50,000 stores, so even if you’re shopping at an obscure site, it’s always a good idea to double-check to see if RetailMeNot can keep a few extra bucks in your pocket.
While there’s no shortage of ways to plan a long trip by car, Roadtrippers makes it easy. You plug in your route, and the site will point out what you should do and see along the way. Roadtrippers caters to lots of interests, from sightseeing to eating, and includes curated descriptions of your path’s hidden gems. When you’re done planning, you can load the app on your phone for quick access from the road.
In the ebook world, there’s a small battle brewing to see who can be the Netflix of ebooks. We have three major contenders so far: Scribd, Oyster and Amazon, which promise 400,000+, 500,000+ and 600,000+ titles, respectively. They’re all fine options, but Scribd gets the nod for its $9-per-month subscription fee; Oyster and Amazon each charge a buck more.
For basic scheduling and reminders, Sunrise isn’t much different from other online calendars. But what makes it stand out is its ability to plug into other web-based services. Use TripIt? Sunrise gives you an easy to way schedule around your next flight. Using Google to sync your calendars? Now you can have the Facebook birthday and event reminders that Google Calendar doesn’t include on its own. If you already use Sunrise on your phone, bookmarking the website is a no-brainer.
Your cupboards and fridge are full of various items, yet you have no idea how to combine them into something that tastes halfway decent. Luckily, Supercook can do the hard work for you. Tell it what you have on hand, and it’ll show you a bunch of recipes culled from popular cooking sites such as Food.com and Epicurious.
Time is money. If you have one but not the other, TaskRabbit could be your answer. For the monied among you, the site can set you up with people to help you get organized, clean your house or courier packages around the city. For those of you with time who need money, you can sign up to become one of the TaskRabbits, picking up odd jobs for extra cash.
The Nostalgia Machine
Nothing fancy here; just plug in the year you want to get nostalgic about, and the Machine spits back a grid of music videos — songs plucked from the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles list for that year — that you’ll probably realize time forgot for a reason.
This Is Why I'm Broke
If it’s wonderfully weird, over-the-top and available for purchase, it’s probably on This Is Why I’m Broke. At last check, there’s a hamburger bed, an iPhone-controlled paper airplane, pencils engraved with Anchorman quotes and a glider that pulls you along underwater behind a boat like a manta ray. Prices range from cheap to not-in-your-lifetime.
Treat drags greeting cards into the 21 century, allowing you to personalize messages across a broad range of how-do-you-dos. You can add your own writing and photos, and the service will mail the card directly to your recipient. You can even schedule cards to be mailed on specific days. Might as well take care of every anniversary and birthday for the next five years at once, huh?
As much as everyone loves being pressure-sold for hours on end at car dealerships, TrueCar cuts through the nonsense by showing you the average price other people in your area paid for the vehicle you’re thinking of buying. Dealerships that partner with TrueCar — there are close to 8,000 — can then lop a few extra bucks off and let you pick up the car without a bunch of unnecessary haggling.
Whether it’s worth a billion dollars to Google or not, you’ve got to appreciate Twitch’s ascent over the last couple of years, and its impact on gaming culture. To call it a site for watching other people play video games would be dismissive, as it’s really a way for people to hang out around a common interest — a virtual version of the way we’d hang out around a single television as kids.
Even if you have no followers and don’t care to share your own six-second videos, Vine’s website is still a fun way to soak up some short bursts of creativity. The curated home pages offers a taste of everything from cute animals to comedy, and you can turn on TV mode for a stream of big-screen videos if you’re feeling lucky.
As part of a new wave of “explainer” websites, Vox is at its best when it’s providing deep background on the biggest news stories. It’s a great starting point if you’re lost on topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict or the battle over net neutrality, giving you just enough know-how to confidently dive into editorials and breaking news pieces elsewhere.
Randall Munroe’s nine-year-old web comic has been on a roll lately, branching beyond geek humor with ambitious projects like a massive drawing to explore, a 3,099-panel comic that panned out over several months and a deep dive into common Google searches. He’s even helped make sense of the news, with a clear, illustrated explanation of the Heartbleed bug that compromised so many websites earlier this year. You may not need to stop in every day, but XKCD should be on your radar.