Many of us use the obvious Google services: search, Gmail, Drive and Calendar. However, the company has a host of other products that may surprise you with what they can do.
Have Spoken Conversations With Google Translate
If you’ve seen any text on the internet that’s not in your native language, chances are you’ve encountered Google Translate. It’s built into Chrome and the web-based form is pretty handy for everyone else. However, the mobile app has quite a few other features that are worth using.
For starters, the mobile app includes “Conversation mode”. This allows two people to tap on their respective language, speak aloud, and have their words translated into their partner’s language and read back. It’s as close to a Star Trek universal translator as you can get right now.
The app also allows you to translate written text by taking a photo, and even save translated sentences to your personal phrasebook. While it may not be perfect, the Translate app should be installed on every traveller’s phone. (Just make sure you’re not getting slugged with roaming charges.)
Learn About Your World With Google Earth
Google Earth often plays second-fiddle to Maps, as they have a lot of overlapping features. When it comes to practical day-to-day tasks such as finding food or getting directions, Maps has you covered. For everything else, though, Earth is truly the superior product. One of the more useful functions is the ability to measure distances with a higher degree of accuracy than Maps.
Earth also offers a variety of other features that can reveal the nature of the world around you. In many areas, Earth has over two decades of map data. By using the time slider, you can view what a particular area looked like in the past. Alternatively, if the terrestrial world doesn’t interest you, Google Sky (which is part of the Earth software), allows you to view all of the images of the universe Google has collected on its servers.
Create Advanced Notifications With Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a long-time staple of power users, yet it’s still relatively obscure among Google services. Google Alerts allow you to get email updates whenever something new happens to a particular search term. Want to find out when the internet has something new to say about Syria, Malcolm Turnbull or Miley Cyrus? Google Alerts can let you know as soon as something happens, or send you a once-a-day update. You can see links to all new content, or restrict it to a given category (news is arguably the most useful).
By themselves, Google Alerts are a nifty novelty. However, combined with our favourite automation service IFTTT, you can do some pretty potent things.
For example, say you want to be notified every time that your name shows up online. You can set up an alert to send you an as-it-happens email when your name comes up. Create a filter for that particular Google alert, and use IFTTT to send it along to Pushover to help get your attention. Or use any number of other IFTTT recipes to automate how you receive the results.
Educate Yourself With Google Scholar
Perhaps the least known and used service on this list, Google Scholar serves a great function any researcher should know about. This sub-division of Google’s search allows you find scientific articles, academic papers, and legal documents. It’s a solid way to locate verified facts, as opposed to the random babble that can often dominate a general search.