January 30, 2021

Best tools of 2020: productivity and audio/voice tools

Curious about the best tools of 2020? In this article I will go through the nominees and the winners of the best productivity app and best voice/audio app of 2020 selected by the popular product enthusiast community, producthunt.com

Best tools of 2020: productivity and audio/voice tools

2020 was a difficult year. It brought us the Australian bushfire, COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown, and the dismissal of Donald Trump. But a lot of people forget that 2020 was actually a very productive year in terms of innovation and technology. As each year, Product Hunt, a community-based website that allows makers and creators to launch their products or services, brought us the Golden Kitty Awards to award the tool of the year in 21 different product categories.

In this article, I took a closer look at the winners and runners-up in two categories, Productivity and Audio and Voice product of the year. Maybe one of these tools will take your business to the next level in 2021? Keep reading and find it out!

I. Productivity tool of the year

Let's start with productivity, which is one of the fiercest categories with endless tools coming out each day to help us be more productive. But which tool stood out according to the nearly 100,000 community members that voted?

πŸ† The winner of the category is..... Fastdok.

To be honest, I am not 100% convinced about Fastdok's win as the best productivity tool. Β Although I really like the idea to be able to quickly create templates in different fields such as legal, HR, IT, Business or Education, my mind was not blown away completely. On one hand, it is super easy to create simple documents with just a few clicks such as certificate of employment, course certificate, quotes, invoices etc. On the other hand, generally companies have templates for most of these. As for meeting notes and for other internal documents you can use Notion or Papyrs for example, not to mention the additional features that these tools offer: you can modify, share, re-edit etc. Moreover, at the moment, the design is just a simple A4 template with no or minimal colouring, and there is no possibility to customize it.

I can see how it can be useful when you need to quickly create documents that do not need a particular design such as certificates, meeting minutes, or other internal documents. But when it is about documents that promote your personal or your company's brand such as a quote for a potential lead, or a cover letter, the design is crucial. These documents represent you towards potential clients and partners, and badly designed documents might have a negative impact on how the outside world judges your brand. In this case, use tools such as Canva to create documents with an impressive design that will make your brand stand out from your competitors.

Now let's take a look at the runner ups:

πŸ₯‡ Obsidian

Obsidian is a note-taking tool, but what a game changer! It allows you to take endless notes, and then connect them together. As it is called on their website, it will be your second brain! 🧠

But why is their idea is so revolutionary? Because the human brain is non-linear, we jump from one idea to another all the time. If you are familiar with the concept of mind mapping, that would be an accurate comparison of how our brain works. If you haven't tried mind mapping yet, this will be an excellent opportunity to see if it works for you. It is 100% free for personal use, and the notes are written in plain text markdown, so the same files can be used by other markdown programs as well 🀩.

If you feel like experimenting with other mind mapping tools as well, check out this and this link for more suggestions.

Obsidian in use

πŸ₯ˆ Pitch

Pitch is one of my personal favorites from the runner ups. How many times were you struggling with collaborating on presentations during group projects at school or at work? I definitely did many times. This is why my mind was blown away instantly when I first saw Pitch.

It is not just beautifully designed but has all the necessary features: flexible and beautiful templates, easy editing, and my absolute favourite is that you can start a video call directly in a presentation 😱.

I strongly believe that Pitch this will be a game-changer in collaborating tools, because it is during these live collaborations when you have a free flow of spontaneous ideas that make a presentation stand out.

Pitch now recreates that the exact same feeling even working remote, enabling hundreds of companies to stay creative even in lockdown. No wonder that the Product Hunt community was so enthusiastic about it. Check out their blog or this link for pro tips about how to get the most out of it and forget that Google slides ever existed.

πŸ₯‰Linear

The third runner is up Linear. It is a software management tool with a very lean design. It was built on the principle to keep developers productive. As their CEO, Karri Saarinen said in his article about the tool: "Engineers and creators feel that their time is drained with continuous stand-ups, retros and reviews. Teams are hindered by slow and confusing tools".

The tool feels like the love child of Notion and JIRA. The user interface is very neat, easy to navigate, so you can focus on your work instead of get lost in features. Any action can be accessed and completed in seconds with the command menu. They even created the Linear Method to bring a new perspective to software building. It can be integrated with tools such as GitHub, GitLab, Sentry, Figma and Zapier.

βœ…PRO TIP: Not in software management? Try it anyway. Linear has all the features a good project management tool needs to have. Sign up for free and compare it to the tool you actually use.

II. Audio and Voice product of the year

πŸ† Product of the year: Phone Call Translator by Lingvanex

Phone Call Translator is an app that automatically translates telephone conversations while your speak, and also shows the dialogue on the screen for better follow up.

As someone who worked 5+ years in international business, I've instantly become excited about this app. At my previous company, I led a market expansion from Hungary to Romania, and no one at the company spoke a word in Romanian (me included). Although most of the time I could get away with English, in some cases Β I could have sold issues way faster in Romanian.

It can also be used as a Support Service or Customer Service agent, especially in the early stages of development, when the sales are not yet stable enough to hire a dedicated person. With Phone Call Translator, a call costs from $0.18 USD per minute (it is VoIP based) so it won't be a burden on the budget. As one of their customers described it:

"It is like Google Translate on steroids".

If you want to test it, download the app and log in with this credential:

Login:test@lingvanex.com
Password:lingvanex

If you don't have any number to test it with, you can call the creators of the app and say hi to them 😎. Phone: +375291254413 or +917384386728 (Please select a call translation into Russian).

Lingvanex also has auto- translate browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. I tested the Chrome extension, and I was quite impressed with it: you can highlight text and the translation is shown just next to it, and you can also listen to it. The cherry on the cake is that it even translates text on pictures 😱 Not to mention that it is more user-friendly than its Google counterpart.

Well deserved win.


Now let's take a look at the runners-up:

πŸ₯‡ Spoke

Three young guys had the idea to create a video editing AI designed for video professionals. Then the pandemic happened and half of the world is working in remote which created an instant demand for their tech. Spoke is both a screen recorder and an online video editor. It helps you record, transcribe, and share all your video conversations in one place.

With Spoke, you can record videos, then re-edit them just by highlighting the text you need making it the easiest way to summarize, transcribe, and share any video conversations you have.

It is similar when you highlighted text from an article and then copy it to another document to summarize it.

But in this case, you edit a video with the same ease. I find it super useful in this new remote era: you can summarize the most important part that a speaker/teacher etc would say and then republish the content to YouTube or in a study group for example. It spares you from taking notes and allows you to dedicate your attention to the speaker. Β Although the design and the demonstration of the app could be improved, once you get the hang of it, it is very easy to use. If you want to give it a try you can download it here.


πŸ₯ˆ Telbee 🐝

The next runner-up has the mission to revolutionize online communication. Telbee is a voice recording application, that allows you to create and receive short voice messages. It is based on the hypothesis that speaking is easier than typing thus it opens new ways of communication .

Possible use cases:

Prospects can leave you a record if they are interested, or customers can leave a quick feedback about your product/service/website. Businesses can also use it as an additional Customer Service channel to liberate call lines. This way customers can avoid waiting in queues or fill out long forms that can have a negative impact on customer experience.

Telbee can also be used as an audition tool. Singers, speakers and voice actors can audition simply by hitting the record button on your site and recording live. Applicants can leave you a short message elaborating on why they are interested in the role as well as directly showcase their language skills for example.

Talking to your customers person to person is the best way by far of building a relationship with them.

Businesses are well aware of this, but in most cases, they just do not have the resources or manpower to make it possible. With Telbee, talking to your customers is not a burden anymore not to mention that it will make your company stand out from your competitors and will encourage more people to engage with you.

The creators said that they have Zapier integration coming up very soon which will connect with most CRMs, making it easy to integrate Telbee in your workflows.

Interested? Check out more use cases on Telbee's website or the Product Hunt community's comments about the tool here.

πŸ₯‰ Krisp

Our last runner-up, Krisp is a noise-cancelling app available for Mac and Windows. It uses AI-powered noise cancellation tech to cancel background noise either for you or other participants of the meeting. A much-needed app in the new home office world, where online meetings are often hindered by various background noises such as dog barking, baby crying, neighbour constructing, etc.

This all ends now with Krisp. It connects to your conference meetings and mutes the background noise leaving only a clean human voice. The noise removal is done in real-time thanks to AI-powered NC technology.

With the free account, you get 120 free minutes which is ample time to test the app. If you recommend it to other people, you receive free Pro months. I will definitely use it for all my important meetings and also recommend it to my friends who work remotely. πŸ’»

So this was the first part of my coverage of the Golden Kitty Awards 2020. πŸ†πŸ˜» In the next article, I will test the winners and runner-ups of AI and Machine Learning and Augmented Reality categories of the year 🀩🀩. It will be super exciting, stay tuned!

You can find the full list of categories and winners here.

❓ Which tool did you like the best? Do you know similar tools that in your opinion should have made it to the list? Feel free to leave a comment below and let's start a discussion! πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘‡

πŸ“© If you have any questions or remarks, shoot me an e-mail at szilvia@szilvialaszlo.com or DM me on Twitter.