The Best MakeUseOf Articles From 2013

2013 has drawn to a close, and it’s about that time when we like to take a look back over the year and see just what resonated most with you, our dear readers. Here are the stories that got you talking and sharing the most.

Top Giveaways

The biggest winner this year was the Google Glass review and giveaway. The fact that it’s $1500 and only available to a limited number of people no doubt contributed to this, but what did Danny think of it?

Is Google Glass cool? Absolutely! Is it functional? Sort of — not quite, but it has plenty of potential. Is it worth getting? Definitely not. It’s a very neat concept, but all it does is smartphone-like things without actually using your smartphone. Unless they eventually develop Glass into something that can fully replace a smartphone, all it does is replicate.


The next most popular were the console wars — if interest in giveaways is indicative of the market demand, the PlayStation 4 has won by a large margin — garnering nearly twice as many entries as the Xbox One. Dave however prefers the Xbox’s entertainment features; or perhaps it’s just the fact that all his friends are on Xbox Live so he’s locked in. Here’s what he had to say about the PlayStation 4:

If the PlayStation 4 is one of the three video game consoles we are going to be using for the next seven years, I am quite alright with that. Sony has laid a fantastic foundation with which it can build on over the course of this generation. The UI has some clunky issues, but they will be fixed with patches. From a pure hardware stance, Sony knocked it out of the park, and that’s really all you can ask for from a video game console.


Coming in joint third was the iPhone 5C and the Google Nexus 5;  I would like to say this is a sign that says neither Android nor iOS are dominating the market, but since the next five most popular giveaways were all Samsung Galaxy variants (S4, S4 Mini, Note 10.1 tablet, Note 3), this probably isn’t true. We haven’t reviewed the iPhone 5S though, so it would be interesting how that would perform. One thing is clear: even when we offered you a Windows 8 tablet or phone, hardly anyone actually wanted one.


Most Appreciated Tutorials

As ever, Facebook featured highly in the top tutorials — it’s their almost daily adjustment of security and privacy settings that keeps us in business. This time the most popular article was debunking the latest in a long line of scams that play on our privacy fears: the “Graphic app” hoax. As Angela explains, following the steps in the hoax would actually mean you hide comments and likes from that person, very much not the intended outcome.

Hello to all of you who are on my list of contacts of Facebook. I would like to ask a favour of you. You may not know that Facebook has changed its privacy configuration once again. Thanks to the new “Graphic app”, any person in Facebook anywhere in the world can see our photos, our “likes” and our “comments”.

Next up was Matthew Hughes to explain the rather nasty CryptoLocker malware. This particular malware would encrypt your personal documents and pictures on both local and network hard drives, and ransom you for the unlock key. It isn’t a hoax, or a trick; if you don’t pay the $300 ransom within the time limit of 3 days, the key to unlock your data would be permanently deleted and you’ll never be able to regain access. As Matthew explains, there’s nothing you can do after infection to get your data back — the only way to mitigate damage is to take proper backups, and install a special CryptoPrevent tool. I’d say “switch to a Mac” as well, but that would get me flamed in the comments, so I won’t ;)


Finishing us off was Joshua with 10 fantastic Google Docs tips for teachers. The popularity of the post is a good indication that educational institutions are abandoning the bloatware of MS Office and embracing free, web-based collaborative tools.

Most Controversial

Justin tells it like it is, and a lot of people don’t like that: this piece about Microsoft’s embarrassing behaviour this year was no exception. From pathetic ads to degrade ChromeBook and even a line of mugs and t-shirts attacking Google — it’s clear Microsoft is running scared. Thankfully, Google has risen above the easy response of ridiculing the atrocious user interface of Windows 8; or the hilarious product placement of a Windows Surface tablet in nearly every recent US drama; or just saying the words “Steve Balmer” . I did’t rise above anything though: Microsoft, thank you for providing us with so much material for our weekly podcast — you’re just too funny.


Matt Smith walked straight into the line of fire with his rundown of 5 reasons to buy the Xbox One instead of the PS4. It was to be expected, but I’ll summarise every response now: “kinect”, “GDDR5”, “isn’t made for gaming”. One thing is for sure — the Xbox One won’t suffer from the dreaded “red ring of death”… because they removed the red ring! I’m kidding, don’t flame me! After my appalling experience with PlayStation support, I’ll happily take an Xbox One if someone were to give me one for free.

Lastly, Ryan argued that he couldn’t find a single productive use for his tablet. In fairness, it was an Android, so that’s to be expected. Like most of you commented: it’s all about the apps. Personally, my iPad is my most used gadget, and I don’t even play games on it.

Most Popular Apps

Chrome and Firefox dominate the browser market, but Craig wanted to let you all know about Opera, a feature packed yet fast desktop browser — and you certainly responded by liberally throwing Likes his way. Read all about the cool features that make Opera a browser worth checking out.


On the iOS front, Waze piqued the most interest. It’s a social take on GPS navigation from an Israeli startup, using data contributed by other users on traffic and travel events. The app has since been purchased by Google, but it remains as functional as ever and hands down is the best app for navigating your daily commute.

The most popular Android article was 20 things you can say to your Android, referring to the new Google Now voice interface application.


Most Popular Free eBooks

In case you didn’t know, we publish a fantastic new eBook about once every fortnight — so there’s a huge, free library of guides for you to download or read online just a click away. This year, the most popular guide was all about how to make your own Android app using the MIT App Inventor, a visual programming tool anyone can use.
cover How To Make Android App: Your Guide to MIT App Inventor
Christian’s Rapsberry Pi manual came in second — there’s no doubt the Pi is making a real difference in the world. If you’ve yet to discover the wonders of this $25 computing device, then be sure to read this guide now!

Finally: everyone’s doing it. Yes — I’m talking about Pinterest. A social network for scrapbooking, creating your own pin boards of pictures from around the web, for inspiration, party planning or shopping lists. New to Pinterest? Then our Pinterest Guide is absolutely for you.

That’s it for this year’s top list, but from all of us at MakeUseOf: Happy New Year, and thank you for your continued support!

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