10 Cool Tech Tools from Product Hunt, the Water Cooler of Silicon Valley

Water cooler
Water cooler


Discovering new technology — apps, websites, and gadgets — should be fun.

But with thousands of startups competing for your attention, it can be exhausting to sift through the gimmicks and duds and find those rare, wonderful gems you actually want to share with friends.

Product Hunt, a relatively new website that hatched from a small group of Silicon Valley insiders, highlights the best new apps, websites, gadgets, and software on a daily basis, with the most intriguing products of the day promoted upward by the consensus of the Product Hunt community.

It works like this: The website allows a select group of entrepreneurs, developers, journalists, and other technologists to post links to interesting new products, along with short descriptions. Any reader can then upvote (like on reddit) and comment on the posting to vault it higher on the list.

The result is a sleek and simple list of products with clearly stated functions, ordered by the number of upvotes they receive, updated by the day. Click on any product, and you’ll go straight to the product’s official site — no lengthy explanations needed. As a result, there’s an air of minimalist expertise in each day’s finds.

Product Hunt screenshot
Product Hunt screenshot

Product Hunt’s front page.

Product Hunt was started in October 2013 by 27-year-old Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ryan Hoover, who explained to Yahoo Tech that the site started as an intimate email digest among his friends.

“We’d often talk about products,” Hoover said. “A lot of it’s ‘Have you seen Yo?’ or ‘What do you think about Slingshot?’ or ‘What’s on your homescreen?’ But there wasn’t this centralized place or platform for new products in the technology world.”

After trialing an email list, Hoover created a simple website that combined qualities of his favorite community-based websites: reddit, the tech-focused news board Hacker News, and “old-school” Digg.

Because the site has become popular with venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and other Silicon Valley types, the Product Hunt homepage can occasionally be filled with tools to search code and “mood-detection APIs.” But along with those niche items come genuinely interesting and broad-reaching products.

“A lot of people have smartphones,” Hoover said. “My mom is on these new products shortly after I am. That’s where the water cooler aspect of this is fascinating. Just like sports, movies, and everything else, products in the technology space are more part of our culture.”

And to prove it, Hoover shared with us the top 10 consumer-friendly products he’s discovered via Product Hunt:

Kidpost: Not all of your relatives, friends, and children are on the same social media outlets as you. Sign up for this service, and anytime you post a photo on sites like Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #kidpost, it’ll email them the photos automatically. Great for non-techies.

Osmo: This iPad app and accompanying kit of objects integrates real-life activities with digital instructions, encouraging more imaginative and active playtime for children. The game, made for kids ages 6 to 12, “is an awesome combination of low-tech toys and high-tech ingenuity,” as Yahoo Tech’s own Dan Tynan wrote earlier this year.

Fixed: This iOS app functions on the fact that 50 percent of parking tickets are dropped when challenged. All you have to do is photograph your parking ticket, send it in, and the company’s experts will take care of the rest. If you win, you’ll pay them 25 percent of the original fee. But if you lose, you pay nothing. Available only in San Francisco for now.

InstaNerd: If you’re looking for something to pass the time that isn’t completely mindless, InstaNerd is perfect for you. It presents flashcards with interesting facts that you can swipe through quickly.

Fatherly: This website, currently in beta, is a resource for “guys who happen to be dads,” aiming to both entertain and educate.

Taptalk: This iOS and Android app works as a quick, private photo or video messaging system. You can send an image or clip by tapping or holding your friend’s profile picture, along with a caption and location. All the photos and videos are deleted after they’ve been viewed.

AirHelp: This website, as I’ve written before, can help you “exact a little revenge” for all those times your flight has been delayed, canceled, or overbooked. It crawls through your email inbox and searches for flights for which you are entitled to compensation. Though it mostly applies to international travel, you’re eligible to receive compensation for domestic flights you’ve had as well. Just enter the basic information, and the software will do the rest.

Netflix RouletteTrouble choosing what to watch? Netflix Roulette randomly chooses from the site’s vast catalog to help expand your streaming horizons.

MomentumThis Chrome extension acts as a reminder to focus on your daily goals, by replacing every new tab you open with a customizable dashboard of your to-do list and a pleasing photo.

EasyFridge:Fill out a list of your diet restrictions and preferences, and personal shoppers at EasyFridge will pick the best items for you each week and deliver them to you. No thinking required.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her here.