There is one tech company on this planet which has worked its ways into the very fabric of our technical lives.
Without them we would be one verb less, and even though we don’t pay for it, we would probably the poorer without it.
I don’t need to Google this answer.
It is, of course, Google.
I’m Julian, your host, and in this episode, I’m going to take a look at the various products they offer and how they might be able to help you.
Coming up on Productivity Matters.
Google appeared on the scene back in 1998; a newcomer to the world of search. Started by a couple of students to improve how they could search what was, then, an internet far removed from what we know now; it has grown into a monolith of a corporation.
Like most businesses, Google exists for their shareholders, to make money. And although there is a philosophical approach Google makes their money from advertising and selling data. I’m not going to spend time going into details, but as I’ve mentioned in previous episodes; since you don’t pay Google for their services, then they sell data about you; so advertisers can better target their products.
Apart from their famous search engine, over the years they have built a portfolio of products that enable you to completely run your life.... they have developed a range of products and services that without them; well, who knows!
Allo, Android, Calendar, Cast, Chrome, Contacts, Docs, Drawings, Drive, Duo, Earth, Forms, Gmail, Keep, Maps, Sheets, Sites, Slides, Tasks,, Translate, Waze, YouTube....
Gmail is probably the most well known product, and has become quite the most popular email client in the world!
It's been designed to be very easy to use; with a lot of functionality built over time. In fact,
Google release a new email client called Inbox, which had a host of functions not available in their main offering. Recently, they announced that Inbox would be shutting down - and the functionality has been ported to Gmail.
You can run Gmail pretty much anywhere.
In the main, Gmail is no-frills service that is easy to set up and manage.
Calendar and Contacts
In conjunction with Gmail, there is Contacts for managing, yep, your contacts. It's easy to use, and changes are synchronised between your devices.
As is Google Calendar. A very fully-featured calendar, that makes it super simple to keep track of appointments. You can create multiple calendars, subscribe to calendars, invite and respond to events, see it in different views; day, week, month etc. Again, you can install this on your device and it's all synchronised beautifully.
For note taking, they offer Google Keep. This is actually quite a good note-taking app. It's available on all platforms and works very well at sorting your information. You can use tags to 'filter' into related notes. You can even create a Google Doc from the note; so you can start an idea briefly, and then build on it in a full document.
For travellers, there is Google Maps.
This is an app I use quite a lot; especially as it can now be used with Apple's CarPlay.
I believe it's the best mapping service; with so many integrations to traffic and transport management. Enter a start and end point, and it will tell you how long the journey will take. Using the data history of the route, Google will also give you an idea of the length of the journey at any given point in time. If you want to travel tomorrow at 2pm; then Google will tell you the average journey time then!
Want to use public transport; then these services can also be applied, and Google will advise route number or train times to help you plan.
Colour coding on the roads on the map will tell you if it's busy or quiet; and alternatives are also displayed.
If you're going to a specific place, it will tell you if you are due to arrive after the place as closed - again based on the raft of data and information Google has built up.
Going overseas - take Google Translate with you. Ideal for understanding menus in a foreign restaurant.
You can translate either into another language, or back into your native language. The app will allow you to hold the camera up to a sign or document and you will see the translation in real-time on the screen. You can then take a picture, highlight text and it will translate that too. Use the microphone to translate voices.
It might not be perfect, but it is an incredible tool.
I've previously discussed Google Photos, which uses machine learning to help search for photos by colour, building, person - and there is also their PhotoScan app, for capturing those 'old' prints and converting them to a digital image.
In this episode I've only talked about their software services. Google also has a range of hardware, that is designed to work hand-in-hand for the full experience. Products such as their mobile device, Chromebook, Chromecast, Google Home. I'll save those for another time.
I hope you’ve found this episode interesting.
Do you have a favourite Google product? Have I missed one that should have been included?
If you have any questions about Google services then please get in touch via the Contact Me button at the top of the page.
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Thank you very much for listening and until next time, remember, Productivity Matters.
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