Question

What tech do you wish had never changed?

WinAmp. Aol and MSN messenger. GeoCities. Netscape. Encarta. The sound of floppies and hard drives and dial-up modems.

It's incredible how nostalgic some older tech can feel today. It was exciting to upgrade from Windows 98 or XP; now, their startup chimes can bring back memories of our earliest days of computing.

And some things actually were better in older tech. Adium let us pull all our chat messages together in one app, something that's sorely needed today where every app seemingly has its own chat feature.

What's the tech you miss the most, the apps you wish were still around or the features you wish had never been changed?

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maguay's avatar
23d

Here’s a silly one for me: Instagram’s map view. I used to take pictures every new location I visited—even if only in an airport, such as flying through Dubai en route to the States—so I’d have a little location pin in my Instagram map. Then they took the map away, and with that my motivation to post to Instagram. In the same vein, Facebook’s Paper app was a much nicer Facebook experience, as were the original time-based feeds in both Instagram and Facebook.

Another silly one is the 3D dock in macOS. That and the 3D, carefully designed icons made macOS feel so much more fun than the completion—as did the original iOS design, which had a sense of magic even if it does look a bit dated now. Newer iOS and macOS just haven’t recaptured that unique feel.

4 points
imskyco's avatar
@imskyco (replying to @maguay )
23d

Agree on 3D dock and original iOS design - there was a lot more craft and detail in user interfaces before flat design took over around 2012. Can't remember any recent products that were as polished as older OS X.

leoparddesktop.png

4 points
pendolino's avatar
@pendolino (replying to @maguay )
9d

Great point on that map! I don't think I used it as much as you did but its so useful to go back to places. They could have just hidden it for the users that really wanted it.

2 points
olivergmuc's avatar

Lotus Agenda. Those were the days.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @olivergmuc )
23d

@olivergmuc Oh fun, that’s an old one! How long did you keep using Agenda, and did you switch to Lotus Organizer later on? What feels like the closest app to Lotus Agenda today—or is there still nothing that can fully replace it for you?

1 point
danicomar's avatar

Mailbox.
The original modern email client.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @danicomar )
23d

I think Sparrow might compete for the “original modern email app” crown, but both it and Mailbox were delightful. The quest to find something that recaptures their simplicity and design is half of what has me switching to the newest email app all the time.

Frustrating that they were both acquired then shut down, with little to show for the acquisition.

What email app do you use now instead?

1 point
danicomar's avatar
@danicomar (replying to @maguay )
23d

Right. I'd forgotten Sparrow! I've tried them virtually all. Airmail, Edison Mail, Google Inbox, Canary Mail, Astro, etc. Wished I had access to Superhuman but probably out of my budget range. Loved Hey! but can't live without Google. Loved Newton back and forth. I still use it, but somewhat glitchy at times and speed is not it's forte (hate to wait so much for the inbox to load). Giving it a shot to Twobird, which has great potential. End up using Spark most of the times for its speed, but I don't like how the emails are formatted or its look & feel.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @danicomar )
22d

Yeah, Spark feels the closest to Mailbox right now. Superhuman is nice—though in many ways very similar to Gmail, albeit optimized for keyboard-driven use.

Twobird does look nice, would love to hear how you find it if you end up using it more!

1 point
danicomar's avatar
@danicomar (replying to @maguay )
22d

Looks like I should pass on Superhuman then. ;-)

Let me summarise the things that personally affect my current choices.

TWOBIRD

Great
+ Simple clean interface (like original Mailbox or currently like Edison)
+ New ideas like embeddable notes
+ Newsletter screening and easy unsubscribe
+ Chat-like mode
+ Personally, I prefer dedicated calendar app, but showing events at the top of the email list (like Things3) is nice

Not so great
- Non-standard swipe options
- Poor separation between emails in email list
- Unintuitive display of threads
- No native signature support
- Mac and iOS experiences are slightly different
- iOS doesn’t work full screen when the screen is magnified

NEWTON

Great
+ My preferred clean interface by far
+ Many power-ups and integrations
+ Best display of all types of email content
+ Great efforts from the team to keep it alive, recent dark mode, etc.

Not so great
- It’s always been slow at loading
- Currently very glitchy, freezes often, emails move around or disappear from view

SPARK

Great
+ Snappy, feels very responsive
+ Does everything well

Not so great
- Email lists and content very small for my liking
- Some emails formats don’t display so well, even when zoomed in
- Would love an “out of view” for low priority email
- App icon very old school (very personal, I know, but affects my enjoyment of having it on my phone’s home)
- Historic privacy concerns (probably not an issue anymore but still in the back of my mind).

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @danicomar )
18d

Interesting to hear on Newton; seems like it'd be the best email app for your needs if they got the performance issues under control. Seems like this is a common problem with desktop email apps. I know years ago I'd stopped using Mail.app partly because I wanted faster search, and recently there was a Capiche discussion about Spark's speed. This may be the clearest win for web-based email ala Gmail since everything's stored online and indexed for quick search, no matter how much free space your computer has.

On Spark's icon, I think it actually might fit in better in macOS Big Sur with its more old-school-iOS style icons.

Have you tried Airmail? It seems to be the most customizable of this generation of Mac email apps, and thus might offer workarounds for some of the issues you've had with other apps. Or, the old-school styled MailMate, a markdown-powered email app I used for years—that's another interesting option if not as fancy as most of today's email apps.

1 point
danicomar's avatar
@danicomar (replying to @maguay )
18d

Yes re: Newton, I wished they could.
Strange about Spark. I find it the fastest. You're right about the icon making a better fit with Big Sur. ;-)
I haven't tried Airmail in ages. Back then it was too many options and visually not as appealing as others.
MailMate... Too old school for me.
Thanks for all the tips!!!

2 points
mds's avatar
@mds (replying to @danicomar )
22d

Never used Mailbox but judging from the screenshots it looks almost identical to eM Client, which I stuck with for the last couple years.

I know quite a few people who still suffer flashbacks from the day Inbox was sunsetted.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @mds )
22d

eM Client's one of the few newer email apps for Windows, too!

1 point
danicomar's avatar
@danicomar (replying to @mds )
22d

One email app I haven't heard of. Will try it. Looks interesting. Thanks!

1 point
bigal123's avatar
23d

Really miss point-and-shoot cameras Canon cameras. Really made you think about whether the concert, bar, restaurant was something you wanted to enjoy in the moment versus livestreaming to your tiktok audience of 5.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @bigal123 )
23d

Agreed; the whole feel of taking photos with a real camera is so much different than with a phone. And the full DSLR/ICL camera experience has its own level of distraction, with thinking about what lens to use and so on. That’s why I still carry a camera when traveling or hiking—and why I picked a Fuji x100 series, which gets DSLR quality but in a small camera that’s easy enough to carry around without all the choices of “which lens is best for this shot.” It may be the placebo effect, but I feel like I enjoy the photography experience and remember the outing more when snapping real camera shots.

Though phone cameras are good enough now that quality alone isn’t enough reason to bring a dedicated camera, and so even with a smaller camera I still find myself just using the phone more often than I should.

2 points
MikeRaia's avatar
23d

I was going to say file search tools like Copernic and Enfish until I realized Copernic was still around. Now I'm going to have to go check it out. :)

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @MikeRaia )
23d

Oh interesting! Had you found they were much better than the built-in system search in the past?

On the Mac I use Alfred, though it’s still powered by Apple’s Spotlight search. Windows search seems better today than in the past, though the old Windows XP search was comically bad.

1 point
MikeRaia's avatar
@MikeRaia (replying to @maguay )
23d

Much, much better than Windows search. Now apparently Copernic can search across multiple cloud file storage accounts as well as local and network drives.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @MikeRaia )
23d

Cloud search would be enough to make it worth trying again!

1 point
mdlynam's avatar
@mdlynam (replying to @MikeRaia )
22d

Not a fan of Copernic 7--- I do have it on my home computer, but for my daily work, I use X1. Wow-- EnFish-- that was some ago!

1 point
imskyco's avatar
23d

Google Reader, Grooveshark, Delicious, Rdio, Yahoo Pipes, and many other services that disappeared. Pre-2010, the web was more personal and less dominated by Big Tech, Google Search had better results, and interoperability/mashups led to some great integrations.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @imskyco )
23d

Rdio was the best; I still feel like it did better at automatically choosing the next songs to play than either Spotify or Apple Music do now. And I’d almost forgotten about Grooveshark; pretty sure that was the first streaming music app I used regurally.

Yahoo Pipes is such as sad loss; it was the original no-code web app in the vein of what Zapier and IFTTT and more are today, and could have been so much more than it was.

Google Reader’s death did give the alternate RSS reader market a bit more energy for a time, but it does seem like overall it just made RSS something most sites ignore now.

It really does seem like Google Search (and Google Maps) have gotten less accurate over time, though that’s a hard one to pinpoint.

2 points
goodtoseayou's avatar

Audiogalaxy. The original version. Unbelievably cool; social media, music, discovery . . . absolutely loved it.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @goodtoseayou )
16d

I'd never used Audiogalexy; just reading about it on Wikipedia and wow, it went through three attempts to make the idea work. That's dedication. And it's another Dropbox acquisition that ended up being shut down, along with Mailbox—that's sad.

1 point
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