There are very few companies or products that actually enter the language as both a noun and a verb. Everyone knows what Google is, and chances are that we’ve all used it as a verb as well; after all, it’s really common to say, ”I need to Google something,” instead of, “I need to look for something on the Internet.” As much as Yahoo, AOL and Bing would love to have their names used in the same way, it simply hasn’t happened, and unless something catastrophic happens to Google, it never will.
As an anonymous Internet user once famously said, “I accidentally used AOL.com to search for something today. I feel like everyone who worked there probably high-fived each other and felt hopeful about the future.” It’s undeniable that Google is the dominant force when it comes to Internet search engines. They are the biggest, which leads to their search results being amazingly in-depth, which arguably also makes them the best.
As we know, Google can be used to search for absolutely anything in the online world, but it can do a few more things that might surprise you. So, without further adieu, let’s look at some of the coolest things you might not know that Google can do for you.
The so-called secret of many major weight loss companies is simple calorie control, and while this is a valid means of losing weight, the information is now readily available to anyone who wants to look. If you Google a particular food, whether it’s a raw vegetable or even something like fried chicken, Google helpfully provides a comprehensive list of nutritional information alongside the list, with information from the US Department of Agriculture. It even determines your location, and gives the information in grams or ounces, depending on the unit of measurement in your country.
Google Maps are generally the go-to when it comes to looking up directions, whether before we leave home or on a Smartphone when we’re already on our way. Unlike some of their competitors (Bing Maps), Google displays minor landmarks and points of navigation such as train stations, which makes getting around easier. Many companies have unfortunately moved towards using Bing Maps on their website to display their location, although a quick copy + paste into Google Maps will give you more detailed information.
Online word-for-word translation isn’t an exact science, since it’s not able to really detect context or pick up on many slang and informal words. Google Translate is perhaps the most comprehensive, and yet if you’ve ever translated something from a foreign language to your native language, you’ll know it’s not perfect.
The translation feature does allow you to understand practically everything in the converted text, although it’s always been slightly annoying to have to copy and paste the original text into the translation box. Google Chrome will automatically detect if a website is in a language other than yours, and will ask if you want the text translated directly on the page. It makes navigating foreign websites a breeze!
Quite often when using Google to search, you’ll notice that the logo has been given a redesign. This is known as a Google Doodle, and is done to commemorate a historical occasion, whether minor or major. So it’s basically like a small fun history lesson, and previous subjects have included recognition of what would have been French singer Edith Piaf’s 95th Birthday, and of course, the homage to Pac Man on its 30th anniversary.
Google is rather confident that your search results will be exactly what you were looking for. They’re so confident in fact, that their search function allows you to jump straight to the first and most likely closest match (by selecting “I’m Feeling Lucky”), which means you don’t even need to see the list of search results. This only works when Google Instant is deactivated, and costs the Internet giant millions of dollars each year, since the user doesn’t see the full search results and subsequent advertising that can be displayed on this page.
Yes, Google Maps are great and comprehensive, and yet they can help you to plan a journey beyond just showing you where to go. When you’re looking for directions from Point A to Point B, Google Maps can also access public transport information and tell you exactly how to travel from one place to another, giving you the public transport information which includes the timetable, duration of trip, and even which train or bus to catch. This is particularly helpful when you’re in another country.
Since print media is dying a slow death (courtesy of the Internet), the vast majority of newspapers and magazine makes their content available online, and mostly for free. Google News curates the available information for you, and if you’ve requested an email alert about a particular subject, you’ll learn the moment any new content is written about the subject in question, whether it’s the conflict in Syria or an obscure celebrity. Google even asks you if you want to create an email alert for news towards the bottom of your search results.
Google allows storage of your Smartphone’s phone number and email database, which then means you can recover the information if the phone is lost or stolen, or when you upgrade to a new phone. This avoids the need to find a way to get in touch with your contacts to get their digits once again; you can simply send the information directly to your new device.
If you need to look up the meaning of a word, there’s no need to actually open a new browser window and look up an online dictionary. Simply type “define,” followed by the word in question, and Google finds a comprehensive definition for you.
Rather than emailing a document back and forth when a number of people need to work on it, Google Docs allows it to be stored centrally, and anyone with authorization can access it and make changes. While this is hardly revolutionary in this day and age, when Google Docs are used alongside Google Chat, it allows a real time discussion about the document as everyone works on it.
This tool is particularly handy with web-based research, particularly for children doing their homework. While the top results of a search might contain the relevant information, they might also present the information within an overly complex academic way. For children (and adults) who want to get to grips with a topic at beginners or intermediate level, Google allows you to filter searches based upon reading level.
Google Streetview is sensational, allowing you to take a virtual tour of many of the worlds streets. You can explore a holiday destination, or even see the house you grew up in. When the Google cars were cruising the streets, taking multiple shots for the 360-degree photos to be constructed, they managed to catch people in a variety of unflattering poses, which have of course now gone online for the world to see.
If you need to find a certain service or business within your local area, you don’t need to look particularly hard. Just enter the topic of your search, followed by your postcode, and Google will provide you with a list of the most popular. It’s handy when you’ve just moved to a new area, or if you’re on vacation and don’t know where to look.
Google offers an up-to-the-minute currency conversion tool, without the need to look up a specialist site. Just type in the amount and currency type, followed by the currency you wish to convert to, and the Auto Complete function will even automatically provide a list of the most popular end currencies. The search result also shows you how the currencies have been performing in relation to each other over the previous years.
When you’re in the market for a new tool or toy (or both), you of course want to do as much research as possible, and this research is quick and easy, simply by entering the words “better than.” Type the name of the product you’re considering, followed by “better than.” As with the currency conversion tool, Google’s Auto Complete will then provide you with a list of the most popular competitors, and the search results are the most popular comparison sites.
Google Trends is an interesting snapshot of what the world has been searching for online, although this doesn’t include adult websites. At a glance, Google Trends shows you the most trending (searched for) subjects, but is also a useful research tool, as it allows a user to gain more in-depth knowledge about a wide range of topics—all presented in easily digestible graphs.
This one does exactly as the name suggests. Simply type, “do a barrel roll” into Google, click search, and the browser window performs a 360-degree roll before returning to normal. This function is just a fun and quirky thing that the world’s most loved search engine can do, and is handy for making friends think that their computer is broken.
The Internet tends to be a bit cluttered, but that’s part of the appeal. If you need to do a serious research project for college or work, there’s an easy way to sort through the nonsense and return only the most relevant legitimate information. Simply enter “site:edu,” followed by intitle (and then type the subject of your search. This limits the results to sites with a .edu domain name, namely colleges, universities and educational institutes.
Much like the Barrel Roll, this is brilliant for fooling friends into thinking there’s something seriously wrong with their computer. Just enter Google Gravity into the search field, and select “I’m Feeling Lucky” (see #5). Watch in amusement/horror as the Google logo and search box then come crashing to the bottom of the screen, but not to worry—it still works as a search engine when lying in pieces on the floor.
One of Google’s major stakes in the future is wearable technology that allows the user greater interaction with, and immersion into the vast range of Google services on offer. Google Glass is a wearable eyepiece that basically looks like a regular pair of glasses, although there’s a huge difference. Google Glass projects information onto the inner lens, meaning users will be able to browse the web, access Google Maps while walking down the street, and even see what their friends are seeing, if they’ve synched the devices and the other user has granted access. As Google Glass become more and more sophisticated, the potential usage is mind boggling—you might be able to use Google Translate to have a real-world interaction in a foreign country, complete with subtitles!
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