Apps of the Year
In our 23rd year of selecting the most innovative products, it's time to consider a new category. Applications haven't replaced gadgets—after all, you can't have one without the other—but the year's best apps deserve recognition.
A text-based search can tell you who's in a movie, but it can't identify who's in front of you. Now you only have to take a picture. Google Goggles analyzes the pixels of cameraphone images (it looks for such things as UPC codes, foreign text and the Mona Lisa's facial proportions) and returns results. Free.
Wikitude World Browser
Wikitude provides captions for the world around you in real time. Available for Android, iOS and Symbian, it layers crowd-sourced information—landmarks, skate parks, Vietnamese food—onto the live view from your cameraphone. Wherever you are, boom, you're a local. Free.
Siri Personal Assistant
Siri's Personal Assistant app uses natural language processing, individual preferences and personal context (location, time, history) to understand complex requests. Your voice commands prompt the software to reserve a nearby restaurant table, check flight prices, or call a cab. Say it, and it's done. Free.