Now Reading
Web Products I Can't Live Without

Web Products I Can't Live Without

by Brad MerrillDecember 29, 2012

It’s hard to believe, but 2012 is almost over. With the year wrapping up, everyone is writing up reviews of 2012 and predictions for 2013. While predictions are fun, I’m not going to write one of those. Instead, I’ve compiled this list of web products I can’t live without. This is the third list of its kind—I’ve updated it every year since 2010.

We cover a lot of startups here on VentureBreak, but very few of them wiggle their way into my daily life. I believe that a product’s true value is in its staying power. That’s something that all of these products have in common for me, and perhaps for you too. Some are for work (Google Apps, WordPress, etc.), some are for fun (Grooveshark, Pandora, etc.), and some are useful for both (YouTube, Skype, etc.) But I use most of them every day, or nearly every day, and I wouldn’t be as happy or productive without them.

I’ve added two new products since last year: Apple Maps and Google Drive.

I’ve also removed three products: Evernote, Google+, and

I still use Evernote and Google+, just not as much as I used to. Other services have replaced Evernote’s functions for me, and Google+ just doesn’t have the resonance I hoped it would. I would still use, except Seesmic discontinued the service.

Of course, there are many services not included on this list that I use on a regular basis. This is simply a collection of my favorites that I use most often.

Here’s the current list, in alphabetical order, of the 15 web products I use every day and couldn’t live without.

Apple MapsApple Maps

There’s no shortage of controversy about Apple Maps. Some people hate it; some people love it. I’ve never had a problem with it, and I’m not the only one. I’m terrible with directions, so my iPhone is how I get everywhere.


Facebook, now the world’s largest social network, is a big part of my online life. I use it every day to keep up with my friends and family—and despite the controversy, so do a billion others.


I love the statistics Feedburner provides on feed readership, as well as the advanced features that enhance feeds better than any other service. We use it here on VentureBreak, and we wouldn’t consider anything else.


In 2007, I thought Gmail was almost perfect. And it’s only gotten better over the past five years. The new UI makes it more intuitive and almost visually compelling to use. When it comes to email applications, there’s no contest—Gmail is the best.

googleappslogoGoogle Apps

Google Apps is a service that provides independently customizable versions of Google products under a custom domain name. For example, with Google Apps you can have a Gmail account with your company’s domain name. We use Google Apps for email here at VentureBreak.

Google Chrome

I tried Google Chrome for the first time back in 2008, when it was still in beta. I tested it for a month or two before switching back to my familiar Firefox. Later, when it was more stable, I installed it again. It was more stable, and by far the best browser I’d ever used. It continues to live up to that title today. I can save a bookmark on my iPad, and that same bookmark will be available on my phone, my laptop, and all of my other devices.

Google Drive

Being able to create a document on my phone and view/edit that same document on my computer is very useful. Google Drive makes it simple and effortless—it’s the best solution of its kind that I have tried.

Google Reader

Google Reader is my feed reader of choice. It works—and works well. Not to mention its integration with other Google services.


Say what you will, but Grooveshark is my on-demand music service of choice. Spotify and other competing services are nice, but I have always been partial to the interface and environment of Grooveshark.


I listen to Pandora anytime I’m working. I’ve discovered so many new songs and artists from it.


Skype is one of the most important productivity tools I have. It’s my primary instant messaging client, and it helps me to keep my phone bills down. Probably the greatest communication tool since email.


Techmeme is the daily newspaper of the tech industry. We use it every day to watch the hottest stories develop across the blogosphere. We’ve also been featured there from time to time.


Twitter is a great place to publish short tidbits of information—opinions, links, messages—to people who care. It’s become part of my daily life, and it’s a great way to keep up with the latest news, or what your friends are up to.


WordPress makes my life so much easier. It takes care of the technical side of things so the other writers and I can focus on writing. WordPress powers VentureBreak, as well as more than 68 million other sites on the web.


YouTube is good for entertainment, learning, and business. It’s the #1 video streaming service on the web, and I use it just about every day. When there’s nothing on TV, there’s always something good on YouTube.

About The Author
Brad Merrill
Brad Merrill is the founder and former editor of VentureBreak.