Its no secret that Google is the most widely used search engine in the world. Google works to tweak their search results ‘algorithm’ on a daily basis and go that extra mile to produce a better user experience. Without the trimmings, Google is the most reliable directory of websites, available today. This article doesn’t talk about why its so successful, it talks about all the extras it has designed to make life easier on the individual, and businesses.
Google isn’t just a raw search engine – most of you will have heard of Google Maps, Street View, Gmail, Image search and more. They are all designed to help the user find what they want, and ‘how’ they want.
For example – if someone is baking a cake and the recipe is in pounds and ounces, but they only have grams and kilogram measures available, they can search for ‘convert 2lb to kg‘ into Google and instead of being given a list of websites that could provide you with the answer, Google does it for you and places it above the search results – they even give you the option of performing another conversion by providing drop down boxes.
It isn’t just limited to weights conversion either – you can convert currency, using a similar approach – either finding a specific value, or the exchange rate (provided by CitiBank N.A.) – simply type in ‘dollars to euro’ or ‘5 dollars to euro‘ and it will give you the answer.
Another example is finding the time where your colleagues or friends are, across the world. If you want to know what time it is in Los Angeles – just ask Google! If you type ‘what is the time in Los Angeles‘ or ‘time Los Angeles’ – Google will display it similarly to the example above…easy huh! It doesn’t end there – cinema times, quotes from a book, shop opening times…try it for yourself and be amazed.
So other than cutting out the middle man between a user and snippets of information, what else can Google do to help you?
Well…there’s Google maps of course – finding out where things are in relation to you. Perhaps you’re abroad and need to find a nearby fuel station before driving – you can type ‘fuel station’ (or similar) into Google Maps on your mobile device and it will bring up the ones closes to you. This relies on using your current location – which you may have prevented in your device’s settings. Don’t worry though – type in ‘fuel station Versailles, Paris‘ and it will show you the available ones on the map.
We will write a thorough article on Google Maps – because there’s so much useful and interesting stuff to know!
Depending on your internet browser or device, Google maps is available in map mode, satellite mode, or a combination of the both (hybrid mode) as well as Google Earth mode. You can search for, and zoom in on, pretty much any corner of our wonderful planet. Try searching for ‘Sydney Opera House’ and make sure you’re in satellite view….its a stunning image. You can also find directions between two places, and it will even give you alternative routes, in case of traffic incidents (which it will also tell you about)! The easiest way to learn about these things, is to play around with them – you’ll discover new things all the time.
Google Street View maps our planet as a series of images, as if you are literally walking down a particular street and its so helpful for things like knowing which building to look for, before you try to find somewhere (or when you are trying to find somewhere, if you have a smart phone/tablet)! Its also really useful if you are looking to buy a new house – don’t wait for the viewing appointment to realise your dream house is sat next to a household waste plant, check it out on Google Street View first! Most of Europe, North America and Australia is on Google Street view, as well as substantial areas of South America, Asia and Africa. Even the quiet country lane you barely knew existed….Google has it covered. Find out more about how to use it here.
Need to find out when a family member or friend’s flight is due to land? You can do that in Google too! If you type in the flight number – such as BA0035, it will tell you the departure and arrival times, as well as which terminal at the airport – click here for an example.
Google will also translate information into different languages – meaning you can impress your German friends when you wish them a happy birthday, or you need to work out how to ask for help, when in downtown Peru…(and of course you can ask Google, if you don’t know which language Peruvian’s speak).
Google won’t only search text – but it also searches images and video clips too. It uses sources from around the web and also YouTube to find what you’re looking for – if you need to find a company logo – type in the company name, and click the ‘images’ tab at the top of the search results page…voilá – you will almost certainly find what you’re looking for. Try finding the Adidas logo, as an example.
Google has it’s own email system too – Gmail (also known as Googlemail) and anyone can use it for free! You can use it via a web based login and can also configure it to load your emails on your smart phone, tablet or into a email client on your computer. Gmail is fast and very reliable – before releasing it to the public, Google used it for two years internally, to make it the very best for their customers.
Want to know what the weather is like for your next trip? It’s no suprise that Google will tell you that too! Typing ‘weather in Moscow‘ or ‘forecast for Singapore‘ and it will present you with a neat graphical display of the weather – with the option for clicking for further information, from it’s weather sources.
Want to know the definition of something? Try typing ‘define: [xxxx]’ and Google will tell you – it could be an acronym or a word/phrase that you need to find out about….see an example for ‘geostationary.’
People love sport – so Google has responded to that. If you type in the name of your favourite sports person or club – it will tell you their latest results, next appearances and even in-play current standings. Click here to see what Novak Djokovic is up to at the moment!
Google has many other strings to its bow – Google Documents, Google Earth and Google Plus – we won’t go into these here – but come back soon for a detailed review of these amazing tools.
Finally, Google even has a sense of humour – on prominent days in history, or for globally topical events such as London 2012 – Google will change its logo in honour of them – Google Doodles. Here are some recent examples. It will also tell you the meaning of life (for all your Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans)!