9 Google tools you might not know about

  • Posted by Stacey on 31 March 2010

Of course you know Google. Of course you know it's a search engine. And they offer Google calender, Google docs, Google maps, Gmail, and it's even a verb! If you have a website, you know about Google analytics, Webmaster tools, Insights, Alerts, Adwords and Trends (and if you don't, you should!). But there are some tools and applications that are a little less well known, but well worth knowing.



Picasa is a wonderful photo organizing and sharing tool. It's basically an easy to use photo library, with some fancy features such as simple photo editing, sharing one photo or a group/selection of photo's online and Geotagging. The sharing feature is handy because the receiving party doesn't need any accounts or logins: they simply receive a link to your photo album by mail.




Wow, so now Google is getting into 3D modelling! Yes, you heard right: Google SketchUp is a 3D sketching tool. It makes it easy and fun to model your house to scale, fill it with IKEA furniture or other stuff from the public "warehouse" and rearrange your furniture to your heart's content. And buildings can be modelled and placed in Google Earth.



Yeah, we know about Maps and Streetview, but Google Earth takes satellite imagery to another level. It combines satellite images and aerial photography with 3D buildings (from SketchUp!) and Streetview. Some nifty features include: Wikipedia integration, Sky Mode to view stars and celestial bodies, Ocean to zoom underwater, Historial imagery to travel through time, and Mars and Moon viewing possibilities. Flight Simulator first started as an easter egg, but is not a hidden feature anymore and lets you fly to various locations in the world. Definitely a category 1 time-waster.



So this is what we will be telling our grandchildren: "I remember when we saw the first advertising campaign for a free web browser!" Google is advertising Chrome everywhere right now, from bus stops to newspapers. It's fast and responsive, and though we webdevelopers are never happy to have to test in yet-another-browser, Chrome is a pretty good one.



Okay, you need an Android for this one, but it's a very cool tool. You take your Android, drive to Paris, take a picture of the Eiffel Tower and Android will tell you all about it. Just point, snap and get info. It apparently works with landmarks, art, even business cards!



Basically this is Google's Facebook, a social networking platform. Share anything and everything (pictures, links, etc.) with your friends. Buzz integrates seamlessly into Gmail.



Google Squared is a Google labs project which allows you to compare features or specs of basically anything. Type in a general category (mobile phones, cloud types, lakes) and Squared will build information squares comparing specific features.



And Google can now also live on your desktop! Get all the features of Google search for your computer. Text search through your mails, music, documents, and more. Google Desktop also allows installation of Google Gadgets (mini-applications that can be docked to your desktop).



Google Sets asks you to input 5 related items, and it can predict a larger set of items. And that's about all it does. I don't really get the practical applications of this yet, but it's definitely fun to see how smart it is. I think this is just Google showing off.


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