This is my list of the best (mostly tech) things of 2021.
This one has to go to WorkOutDoors as it has changed my running life. It not only makes an Apple Watch have all the features of a Garmin/Coros etc but it adds so much more. You can create interval sessions, customise screens and has great mapping functionality. If you are on the fence to getting an Apple Watch for running (less than about 6 hours) this should tip you in the right direction.
Runner-Up: PocketCasts my favourite podcast app. A robust app with loads of features and works amazingly well on an Apple Watch even with no iPhone near by.
Game of the Year
I don't think I have been so engrossed in a game for a while as Fantasian. I don't really have time to play games and we do not have a Playstation or Xbox. Included with Apple Arcade, this is a must game for Final Fantasy fans, it's just great.
In 2021 I have taken the stance not to visit cinemas and look to streaming as much as possible. I think I could identify more misses than hits. My favourites, though, include Luca, Encanto, Shang-Chi.
Favourite TV Show
There has been so much good TV this year and along with COVID-19, it's possibly why I have not been lured to the cinema. My stand out would have to be Loki. I am not sure if it was that it was unexpectedly good but because there was so much good. The acting is fantastic, the story compelling and amazing special effects. This (I have not seen Spider-Man: No Way Home) is the best Marvel production by far in my book.
Runner-Up: Foundation, it's just such good Sci-Fi with no glaring issues.
Runner-Up: The Expanse, hopefully it continues some way in the future.
I decided this year to start listening to books as well as podcasts while running. I chose to start with The Expanse series and Leviathan Wakes, and this has been my favourite this year. I’m now on book 3 in the series and hopefully I get through the whole 9 books at some point.
Runner-Up: The Mystwick School of Musicraft is a beautiful story set in a world where magic is created by playing music. My daughter and I loved this one and it’s a great recommendation for 8 year olds.
Favourite Apple Product
iPhone 13 Pro for the camera alone, but so many refinements over my previous 10S Max.
Runner-Up: Apple Watch Series 7 the larger, always on screen has greatly improved my watch life. Who would have thought that seeing the time without throwing your arm in the air would be life changing? 🤣
Best Non-Apple Product
The Polar Verity Sense heart rate monitor has been a great addition to my running, it’s comfortable, provides good data and very easy to use. If you have a running watch and it does not give good HR data (this effects many people, it’s not an Apple Watch thing) then I would highly recommend buying one.
Runner-Up: Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub. I just love this thermometer for my Weber. Connects via Bluetooth and WiFi and charged via USB. The app makes it easy to keep track of everything even while I’m not at home. It’s not cheap but I appreciate it every time I’m low and slow cooking.
Most Disappointing Product
This is a hard one but Swift Playgrounds 4. Everything about this update is great except that all the app development functionality is iPad only. Some might not see the need for this to work on a Mac, but if you think Xcode is hard being a developer, try getting 14 & 15 year old students to install and run this it on their 3-4 year old MacBook Airs with 128Gb of storage - you will then know the pain is real. I had such high hopes that this will remove one of my biggest pains about teaching app development and Apple somehow missed the opportunity. Fingers crossed they will get an update out for the Mac next year.
Most Life Changing Hardware
Breville Barista Express. I would not think I would find a better coffee machine than an Aeropress, but this espresso machine has changed my appreciation for good coffee.
Runner-Up: Renpho Massage Gun there are many manufacturers of percussion massage guns but this is the one I chose and it's amazing.
Favourite Tech Podcast
Hands down Hemispheric Views. The hosts are funny, knowledgeable and down to earth. It helps that 2 are from Australia and one is from Perth. I have listened to many tech podcasts over the years, but in this show they stay positive and keep a tight ship.
Runner-Up: BubbleSort Show hopefully this comes back, it's been quiet since August but they make me laugh and always cover Apple Tech news so well.
Favourite Non-Tech Podcast
I am slowly working through the back catalogue and listening to the new episodes but Darknet Diaries is well produced and full of great stories about hackers, hacks, government activity, hacktivism and cybercrime. I really enjoy this one. I put this under not-Tech as I think anyone would get a kick out of it and it really makes you change your password.