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Yahoo Tech’s Absolute Favorite Tech Stuff of 2014 (So Far)

We are officially halfway through 2014. What gadgets, websites, apps, and assorted other releases have brought the Yahoo Tech staff the most joy in the first six months of this year?

We sorted through everything, from the headline-making gadgets to the handy utilities from lone developers; from the wacky and ridiculous art-tech projects to the small but meaningful updates to our most-used apps. 

These are our choices. Read on to find our picks for the Best Tech of 2014 (so far):

1. TwoDots


This addictive new game combines an adorably illustrated story with a captivating strategy game. It’s a cuter form of chess. — Alyssa Bereznak, reporter

2. Osmo


Tangible Play’s Osmo combines puzzle pieces with the iPad’s camera to create games that are both simple and sophisticated, while also ridiculously addictive. It’s an innovative way to bring the real and virtual worlds together for your kids. — Dan Tynan, columnist

3. Evernote’s LinkedIn-powered business-card scanning: Social media has failed to stop us from exchanging identifying information on little pieces of paper, but with a new feature of Evernote’s iOS app you can scan a business card in seconds to turn it into a digital record that is a) searchable (unlike the pile of cards on your desk) and b) automatically connected to that person’s LinkedIn profile, should you have connected with her already. — Rob Pegoraro, columnist

4. iMessage eject: Apple announced that you will soon be able to remove yourself from irritating group chats in iMessage. So long, talkative texting friends! — Jason Gilbert, senior editor

5. How’s My Hair?


Type in your location, and this website will tell you exactly how your hair will react to the humidity and wind in your area. ’Doin’ it right. — Alyssa Bereznak

6. Google Image Search Clothing 


These custom-printed outfits are designed to let the wearer strut about in the algorithmically styled results of a vanity Google search. The duds are exclusive to their artist creators for now, but they say they’re planning to convert the idea into an Avatar Apparel line. — Rob Walker, columnist

7. ZipStick:


A portable battery charger that does double duty as an LED flashlight at a decent price ($29.99, or $34.99 for an upgraded version that sports a panic alarm — triple duty!) Boasts a big 2,200 mAh lithium-ion battery for fast-charging your devices. — Deb Amlen, columnist

8. GIFs on Twitter: If GIFs belong anywhere on the Internet, it’s on an endless stream of conversations between talking heads and weirdo personalities. All hail the Twitter GIF. — Alyssa Bereznak

9. Secret. The addictive iPhone and Android app shows that you can have a working, supportive social network that’s also anonymous. — Rafe Needleman, editorial director

10. Transformers: The Premake: A unique “desktop documentary,” this half-hour film (available free on YouTube) explores the making, and marketing, of the latest Transformers movie, as well as its economic impact on cities where it was filmed, entirely through a digital collage of fan videos and other online material. — Rob Walker

11. @SavedYouAClick  


This glib, vigilante Twitter account is helping to fight clickbait, something our own David Pogue has also spent this part of 2014 ridiculing. @SavedYouAClick retweets headlines from the most popular clickbait publications and adds a simple spoiler comment at the front, rescuing you from the “click to find out” part. — Daniel Bean, editorial assistant

12. Email encryption: One of the most direct benefits to everyday people from Edward Snowden’s revelations has been the massive shift among mail providers (disclosure: Yahoo included) to encrypt messages as they travel across the Internet — automatically, without any need for you to change settings or install any new software. — Rob  Pegoraro

13. Vellum: If you don’t feel like logging in to Twitter, but still want to keep up with your friends, this app from The New York Times gives you a quick list of every link shared on your feed. — Alyssa Bereznak

14. Filip


A super simple “phone” for the kindergarten crowd, Filip lets you locate and contact your wee ones no matter where they are — and helps to alleviate parental panic when your toddler wanders off in public. — Dan  Tynan

15. Live!y. You’ll never stop worrying about your aging parents (and vice versa). But Live!y’s system of wireless sensors and SMS notifications makes it easier to keep an eye on them without getting too much in their business. You’ll know if they’re up and about, eating regularly, and taking their meds, without having to constantly call or stop by their homes. They’ll get to enjoy their independence a bit longer (and less nagging from you). — Dan Tynan

16. Threes!


The most addictive game of the year also has the best soundtrack since Inside Llewyn Davis. — Jason Gilbert

17. The end of @everyword: The Twitter account @everyword, which started tweeting every word in the English language seven years ago, finally completed its mission in May. I can’t think of a word to describe how happy the account made me. — Jason Gilbert

18.  Flappy Bird 


I loved the addictive Flappy Bird game even though I felt like its level of difficulty was, at times, “ruining my simple life.” Funnily enough, the game’s creator eventually decided he felt similarly, albeit for different reasons, and promptly removed Flappy Bird from both the iPhone and Android app stores. The app has since returned, so maybe it will make our Best Of list for the second half of 2014, too. — Daniel Bean