A lot of the web apps we review here at Web.AppStorm hold price tags, but there’s still a plethora of free ones available that do stellar jobs. In this roundup, we’re going to showcase fifty fantastic web apps that not only do a great job, but do it for free. While a lot of them do offer paid and premium versions, we’ve chosen them all because we think you can survive on the free version forever.
Let’s dive in…
We’re going to kick off this roundup with an app that’s probably one of the most used worldwide: Gmail.
Gmail is, of course, Google’s mail offering, with over 350 million active users worldwide. Recently redesigned as part of Google’s new universal branding, Gmail features numerous features you might like including highly praised spam prevention, conversation-centric organisation and the beta “Priority Inbox” feature.
Alternatively, if you’re not a big fan of what Google has on offer, Yahoo! also offers a web-based mail client that similarly touts strong spam protection and performance, in addition to unlimited storage so you never need archive or delete a mail message again. It might not be the most classy email tool in 2012, but it is still a nice, dependable service.
Transitioning from e-mail, we arrive at a RSS client, Google Reader. Google’s RSS product is a top notch free RSS reader that is probably the only web app you should consider for the job.
Reflecting the definition of RSS, Google Reader’s clean interface does a great job at managing your RSS subscriptions and keeping you updated. Plus, third-party services can easily interface Google Reader into alternative views if you’re not too keen on the standard.
When you think about cloud-based storage, you likely think of Dropbox. The two go hand-in-hand, and for good reason since Dropbox offers up a fantastic set of features for free. While you’re naturally able to pay for more storage space, I’ve never needed more than the free 2GB of space provided. If you do, you can always refer friends to get more space within your free allowance.
Plus, with the free desktop app, you can keep a Dropbox folder on your computer to allow for a “physical” destination on your desktop to manage your Dropbox files. Or, if you want to go web apps the whole way, you could just use it from their site with new drag-and-drop goodness.
Alternatively, you can checkout Google Drive which offers a similar cloud-based storage space for your files. Google Drive builds upon the incredibly popular Google Docs, the company’s web-based office suite which we’ve all come to know by now.
Google’s offering is amicable with Dropbox, but, if you’re invested in the Google ecosystem already [which you'll most likely be by the end of this roundup], Google Drive may be a more natural choice for you. It’s also being integrated with lots of newer web apps, which might be an advantage if you use web apps all the time like we do.
There’s a lot of image sharing sites out there. However, the free service Minus offers is the simplest I’ve found, allowing you to select or drag-and-drop a file to see it instantly uploaded. They’ll even provide you with a shortlink straightaway, so there’s not even a need to do that yourself.
And all this without needing to signup equals image sharing bliss.
You’ve probably been sent a Pastebin link at least once or twice, so you’re likely not too unfamiliar with what Pastebin does. Pastebin is essentially an easy way to share your pasteboard; you paste in text into the field on Pastebin’s homepage, hit submit and then share the link. An incredibly simple, free app.
ifttt advertises itself with the line “put the internet to work for you”, being a service that automates some internet-based tasks for you. Maybe you want to upload your Instagram photos straight to Dropbox, or archive your Foursquare checkins in Evernote. If so, ifttt (if this then that) will do it all for you, without any intervention from yourself.
When I mention YouTube, you probably think of watching videos. However, while YouTube is great destination for viewing content, Google’s service also hosts a simple video editor that allows users to edit, transition, remix and title video (your own or content uploaded to the site with a Creative Commons license).
SlideRocket is an office app that offers stellar quality online presentation production. You can create brand new presentations right within the service, or import PowerPoint files created elsewhere. You can share and collaborate too, much like alternative presentation software available on the web.
Calepin is a pretty cool app that finds Markdown, plain text files in a special folder in your Dropbox account, and then converts them into blog posts on your own personal site. Calepin does all the work of converting plain files into your blog, which is especially useful if you love Markdown or maybe want a great way to pen posts offline.
LastPass is a password management service that stores all your credentials in one place and then dealing them out on request (to you only, of course). That way, you can create much more difficult to remember passwords without ever needing to actually remember them yourself.
Apple launched iCloud last October, a service for keeping all your data and content in sync between devices. However, Apple also published a suite of web apps for accessing email, contacts and calendar all for free.
Recent leaks also suggest Apple plans to bring web apps for notetaking and Reminders to iCloud in a future update. There’s only one snag: you need to signup from an iOS device or Mac computer, so it’s really only free for Apple’s customers. You could signup for a free account from a Mac or iPad in an Apple store if you really wanted, though…
Instagram has been a huge hit, so much so that there’s a number of similar apps that have spawned onto various app marketplaces. Picfull is a similar service, but this time on the web, allowing you to upload a photo and apply a number of filters and styles to it. Then, it’s simple to share with your favourite social networks.
If you want a notes app that focuses on plain text and markdown notes, and works with a number of different native apps, Simplenote might be just what you’re looking for. It has a great web app for storing your text notes, and even lets you share notes with the public or privately with your friends and colleagues.
Desk.com is a customer support product from Salesforce that helps you easily manage customer enquires and tickets, as well as being able to easily public support documentation and even organise your work to do. It’s free for the first full-time agent, certainly enough for, say, a freelancer, although it’s paid from there.
Microsoft’s suite of Office apps came to web in SkyDrive, which allows you to create documents and presentations right from within your browser. Albeit limited when compared to their native counterparts, these web apps still do a stellar job of doing what they do.
Minimalist writing apps have became pretty popular in the last few years, with the advent of apps on native platforms like iA Writer. QuietWrite is a free web app that satisfies a similar category of app, but based in the browser. You can easily export writings to your WordPress blog, too, which is a bonus.
An alternative to Blogger is the immensely popular WordPress, one of the world’s most used, if not the most used, content platforms. Similarly to Blogger, you’ll choose a name, select a theme and then be able to get started sharing your thoughts and content with the world. And if you have a hosting account or server, you can run WordPress on your own server for free too.
While it may definitely seem like a very similar service to the previous two, Tumblr’s a bit of a unique concept. Instead of standardised long-form blog posts, Tumblr brings together all sorts of your content into posts formatted just for that type of content, whether it be a quote, an image, audio, a traditional blog post or something else.
You’ve, no doubt, heard of Google Calendar, being one of the more popular free Calendar apps on the web. However, it’s popularity isn’t cause enough to exclude a stellar app from this list. Google Calendar features all the things you’d expect in a Calendar, tied right into your Google account and easily integrates fluently into native platforms, both desktop and mobile.
You’ve no doubt heard of Twitter, and possibly TweetDeck, an official client for the social network. TweetDeck separates up your Twitter experience into a number of columns, giving you a dashboard-style view of your activity on the network while making it easy to track topics and more. All this, in your browser.
If you come across a time when you want to share a video of what’s happening on your screen, with a bit of commentary thrown in, Screenr is a fantastic way to easily do that. One simply needs to hit the record button, do what they are showing, and then share the link, with nothing to download, install or pay.
While there’s a lot of video chatting and live streaming solutions out there, you’ve probably already got one you’re signed up to: Google+. With your Google account alone, you can host a free “hangout” on the company’s social network to your circle of friends with relative ease, for free. You can even broadcast your hangout to give you a free way to, say, stream a live conference or event.
turntable allows you to create a virtual room where users, including self-elected DJs taking up one of five slots per room, play songs for all to enjoy. Users can converse in the associated chat room, while voting songs according to whether they’re “lame” or “awesome”. The more awesome songs you play, the more points you earn, allowing you to upgrade your avatar and add stickers on your virtual laptop (auto-detected according to your OS, too!).
Amazon’s Kindle is available on many platforms, including the web. The web reader takes your Kindle Reader and, obviously, allows you to read them, particularly useful if you don’t have a Kindle device or one of the native apps installed on your device. Books stay in sync with the other platforms you have them on, so you won’t ever lose your place, even if you swap devices.
Of course, books will probably mean you’re going to be paying for this app, but there’s still a catalogue of free content available.
Penzu allows you to create your own person journal and online diary online, penning private blog posts that can be shared only when you feel like it. While the free version will likely be enough, Penzu Pro offers mobile composition tools as well as the ability to email in your posts to be published.
Developer: Penzu Inc
Ever wanted to tweet or share something at a later time, but want to line it up now?
Buffer is a simple app that allows you to queue up posts to your favourite social networks, and then have them automatically be released upon your public and specified timed during the day. That way it’s simple to keep your followers and friends satisfied with content, or as part of a social media market campaign.
GiftDish is more a niche app in that you might not use it every day, but it’s still pretty awesome. GiftDish presents you with a view of you’re friend’s birthdays (powered through Facebook), and then allows you to pick out a gift and send it to your friend. Of course, the gift’s will cost, but the app is free.
There you go, fifty of our favourite free web apps! If you’ve got your own preferences that we’ve missed, be sure to share them in the comments section below!