Over the years, Google has evolved from the quintessential search engine into an all-comprising web powerhouse, bringing in the newest web technologies. Though the front line Google services like GMail, Reader and Docs have received huge popularity, there are some services that haven't yet got the attention they deserve. Here's a look at 5 such services from the big G.
Google Fast Flip:
Google Fast Flip is a service that lets users browse news, blogs and popular topics in a print magazine format. As the name suggests, flipping through content is very fast, so that users can browse through multiple articles until they find something they like. Fast Flip aggregates content from many top newspapers and magazines providing a seamless browsing experience. Apart from browsing various articles, users can also search for their favorite topics to get relevant articles. The user interface is very simple – the content covers 70% of the screen space. On the right, there is an ad unit and a neat share button, which allows sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Google Reader and Delicious. There is also a 'like' button that helps Fast Flip become more personalized. Google has partnered with publishers like the New York Times, The Atlantic, Washington Post and dozens more who share the revenue they earn from contextually relevant ads with Google. Fast Flip also has a mobile version that can be accessed at (http://fastflip.googlelabs.com/mobile) and it comes with tactile page flipping. The mobile version works well across most of the Android land iPhone devices.
Google Insights for search:
Google Insights is an interesting tool for comparing search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. It helps in comparing search interests for products, movies,sports and almost anything that people search using Google. The user enters two or more search terms, which are each represented by different colors. The search volume data for those terms is then presented in the form of a neat graph; the Y-axis representing the search volume in percentage, and the X-axis representing the years from 2004 to 2011. A rising line indicates that the popularity of that particular term has risen over time. Besides the graph format, Insights shows a small map depicting regional interest for the term. The map is useful for gathering various types of statistics be it country-wise or city-wise. For example, did you know that Cubans and Russians search the term 'linux' and 'Ubuntu' more than Americans do? More such insightful data can be analyzed using Google Insights, which can be helpful for students, researchers or entrepreneurs. Here's an example search insight comparing the popularity of 3 Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs – Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol.
This is a great service that was acquired by Google in 2007. Panoramio is a community-powered site for exploring places through photography. It allows users explore cities, monuments, natural wonders and almost everything picturesque. However, the site should not be confused with services like Flickr and Picasa that allow users to post all types of photos. This site exclusively showcases all the cool places including famous ones like Eiffel Tower and Taj Mahal, and the not-so-famous-yet-beautiful ones like Elafonisi in Greece (http://www.panoramio.com/map/#lt=35.271376&ln=23.533058&z=2&k=2) and Hatsheput temple in Luxor (http://www.panoramio.com/map/#lt=25.738333&ln=32.607778&z=1&k=1). These photos can also be accessed as a layer in Google Earth and Google Maps. Registration is free and anyone can submit the pictures they take, provided it doesn't include too many people in them. A mobile version of the site is available for iPhones and Windows 7 phones (third-party).
Google Patent Search:
As the name suggests, this service lets users search for patents on different topics. Particularly useful for research, Google Patent Search also allows users to explore and download patents from a variety of fields including Technology, Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and more. Users can read and download the patents in PDF format. Non-technical users might not find this particularly useful; however, exploring interesting patents like pacifier, Monopoly, and golf club is a great way to know more about simple devices we now take for granted.
Aardvark is a social search service that helps people get their questions answered by connecting them to their friends or friends-of-friends via live chat. The user posts his or her question, and then Aardvark finds the perfect person to answer the question in the user's social network. Questions can be submitted via email or instant messaging. The Mechanical Zoo, a San Fransisco-based startup, originally owned aardvark before being acquired by Google for $50 million in 2010. The service appears very much similar to Quora; however, Aardvark, unlike Quora, works bests for subjective questions for which human judgment or recommendation is required. For example, questions like 'Which is the best Star Wars movie?' is a typical question you might come across on Aardvark. Response to asked questions come fairly quick depending on the amount of users online in the asker's social network.
Here's a list of few more of such obscure services from Google:
Google Knol: Google's answer to Wikipedia.
Google Boutiques: A personalized shopping experience that lets users find and discover fashion goods.
Google Squared: Extracts structured data from across the web and presents its results in spreadsheet-like format.
Google Fusion Tables: A tool for gathering and visualizing arbitrary data.
Google Indic Music search: Allows users to search and listen to thousands of Hindi songs.