This Year In Google: The 2009 Edition

When technologists of the future look back in time, they'll remember 2009 as the year Google got serious about an internet operating system, speeding up the web and indexing EVERYTHING in sight. Take a look at the year 2009 in Google.

Google's Three Biggest Launches of 2009

Two of the three most significant Google releases of 2009 are not yet available to the public in a final release build, but all three are open source. In no particular order:

Chromium OS: In July, Google got Microsoft and Apple shaking in their boots when they announced they were building an operating system. The source code for Chrome OS (in its development phase it's called Chromium OS) became available in November; early adopters can run virtual machine images and bootable USB drive versions of the OS.

Google Wave: In May, Google demonstrated their new, real-time collaboration web app, Google Wave, to a crowd of incredulous developers who couldn't stop applauding. In September, they invited 100,000 users to try the Wave Preview. By now, over one million users have tried out Wave.

Android 2.0/Droid: While Android-based handsets were already available when the year started, the Motorola Droid debuted in November running Android 2.0 and attempted to take on the iPhone in its "Droid Does" ad campaign. Google also released a flurry of Android-only applications and updates to existing ones in 2009 to boost their mobile platform, including Google Voice (which Apple rejected on the iPhone), Google Goggles, Google Maps turn-by-turn directions, and Google Listen.

Google's Most Updated Apps of 2009

While a few Google products did get shut down, "sunsetted" or just didn't change much, several marquee apps grew up a whole lot this year with serious feature additions and upgrades.

Search Engine Upgrades: Remember when Google was just a search engine? Googlers do, because they're still busy bees improving search results and rolling out new ways to get to them. This year saw the rollout of Google web search's Caffeine update, as well as music, social and real-time search, along with several new Google Image search options and updates to the Google Suggest drop-down.

Gmail: Thanks to Gmail Labs, our favourite web-based email client got a slew of new features for power users, from automatic translations to offline attachments to time zone notifiers to exportable mail filters. If you haven't recently, cruise through your Gmail account's Labs area to pick and choose from over 60 experimental features. Gmail's mobile web application for the iPhone and on Android also saw an overhaul and vast improvement this year.

Chrome web browser: Google's own browser, Chrome, saw a whole lot of movement in 2009, especially late in the year with the release of bookmark sync, official beta builds for Mac and Linux (finally!), and Chrome extensions.

Google News also saw a couple of interesting experiments like Fast Flip and the News Timeline.

Google's Mission to Speed Up the Web

If there's any one thing Google did this year, it was launching a concerted effort on all fronts to make the web faster. From developer tools (like Speed Tracer and the Google Web Toolkit) to consumer products (like Chrome and Google Public DNS), it's kind of astounding the sheer amount of stuff Google put out there this year under the speed umbrella. They're even going so far as attempt to reinvent the two pillar protocols of email and the web with Wave and SPDY (a faster replacement for HTTP).

And the rest....

2009 was also the year of a few legal skirmishes (like the Google Books settlement, the Cyanogen C&D, the Google Voice/FCC mix-up), a few acquisitions (like reCAPTCHA, Gizmo5 and AppJet), and data control initiatives (the Google Dashboard and the Data Liberation Front).

You could say it was a pretty busy year at the Googleplex and beyond.

Google's 2009 Product Release Calendar

Take a ride through the last four seasons at Google in this list of 2009 product releases and updates, listed in chronological order, month by month.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October/November

December

What was the best Google launch of the year? The biggest flop? The product that made the biggest difference in your daily life? Let us know in the comments.

Gina Trapani, Lifehacker's founding editor, looks forward to what the GOOG will come up with in 2010.


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