4 stars
My go-to browser on iOS to quickly look something up

To be upfront: Firefox Focus[1] for iOS is not a full-featured browser. And it doesn’t aim to be. It has no bookmarks, no tabs and doesn’t store your browsing history. When you close it and re-open it after a while, it will have forgotten all your logged in websites. And it also isn’t a browser in the sense that even though it is called “Firefox”, it is using Apple’s WebKit engine to render websites, not the Firefox engine. (This last point is not a voluntary decision, as Apple does not allow third-party browser engines on iOS.)

However, just because it is not a full-featured browser, it is perfect to quickly look something up on the go: It is fast, uncluttered and dead simple to use. It blocks trackers and ads, greatly speeding up page loading times especially on slow connections (although it can be a bit overzealous on some websites). And because it forgets by design, it preserves your privacy (both against the pervasive tracking on the Internet as well as against someone who looks through your phone).

At first, I was pretty sceptical about the concept - but now I have to say that more likely than not I will tap on Firefox instead of Safari when I just want to quickly look at some website on my iPhone. Sometimes I would still wish for simple bookmarks, but maybe it is a good thing that wishes like those remain unfulfilled: they would compromise its simplicity and thus its value.

[1]: Or “Firefox Klar”, as it is called in the German-speaking countries where it is by default even a bit more private.

4 stars
Best automated online translator, beating Google hands-down

DeepL is a machine-learning based online translator, similar to Google Translate and others: You enter text in the box on the left and it will output the text translated to another language in the box on the right. In my experience (mainly translating between English, German and/or French) it provides very, very impressive and definitely far better results than any other automated translator I have tested. The translation is almost always very understandable and often nearly flawless.

They also provide a (paid) API if you want to use DeepL translations in your own products.

Only downsides (and why it only gets four stars):

  • It only supports relatively few European languages compared to Google Translate (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Polish; in particular no Chinese or other Asian languages).
  • It cannot translate whole webpages, you always need to copy-&-paste the specific text you want to translate.
  • While it is the best automated translator on the market, it is still not as good as a human translator.

5 stars
Best crowdfunding platform with the lowest fees

Liberapay is a platform for recurrent donations to creators and other individuals or organisations worth supporting. Sign-up, loading money and setting up your recurrent donations is straight-forward, so that you really have no excuse not to support your favorite creators.

Contrary to its commercial counterparts (such as Patreon), Liberapay is a non-profit, its code is open source and it does not take a cut (except for payment fees) from the money flowing between donors and recipients. Payment fees are kept low by offering SEPA bank transfers in addition to credit card payments. This means that significantly more of your money will actually reach the intended recipient instead of paying for the profits of venture capital investors.

The only potential downside is that Liberapay is strictly a donations platform: you cannot provide “perks” to your supporters as is possible with Patreon and others. The reason for this is that this way you are really receiving donations and not providing a service, which I guess might make things easier depending on your countries’ laws (e.g. regarding taxes, social security, and/or liability).

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