All posts tagged Google

Google Maps – Finding Your Way

Google DirectionsI still remember when I was in college (we’re talking mid 90’s here) the idea of the internet being your answer to finding your way around the roads was a very new idea. I was having a conversation with a buddy who was going to be taking a road trip. I told him he should go on mapquest and print the directions. He was amazed when I told him you could go to the internet and type in your starting and ending point and get turn by turn directions printed in minutes! He even impressed his friend later and told me about it. He was telling them about this new idea and they simply didn’t believe him! He literally how to go to a computer and show them it worked! My how times have changed!

It used to be that you would use Mapquest or there was another major player that I just simply can’t remember the name of. I’m sure in a few hours it’ll come back to me and I’ll come back and edit this post if so. Anyway, part of the reason I can’t remember the name is that Google go into the mapping game. Like most of the other things that Google does, once they got involved they were quickly the best. And not just the best, but so good that it makes your forget the names of the other competitors.

With Google Maps you can quickly, smoothly, and easily see a map of the location your enter. You can zoom in our out or slide in any direction so you can explore what you are looking for. Of course because it’s Google you can also seamlessly interact with Google’s other products like Google Earth or Google Directions (which is really just Google Maps). So you can put in an address for the area you are looking for and take a look. Then if you want to print out directions you can click the button for directions and enter your starting address. It’ll create specific directions for your trip with estimates of how long the trip will take and other helpful stats. You can also switch to satellite view and see in pretty good detail a view of a location from a satellite.

Turn by Turn

If you are viewing all this on your smart phone you can then switch to turn by turn mode, and Google will talk you through the whole trip. It’ll use the satellite connection on your phone to know where you are and how you are progressing. It’ll give you notice of an upcoming turn, and if for some reason you miss it, it’ll re-route you. Impressive stuff really!

Street View

Google has also been sending around special cars to take street level photos. So when you get to a key turn or your destination you can either print out a picture or it’ll pop up on your phone so you can know you are exactly in the right place. A little scary I suppose from a big brother stand point, but I have used it and it is really really helpful at times!

So the next time you need to take a trip get right on Google Maps and get it all figured out. There is a VERY low chance that you’ll impress your college buddies with this skill but still worth it!

Also if you have a smart phone and don’t all ready have the app make sure you download the Google Maps App today! You’ll thank me!

Google Books

Google BooksGoogle Books is quickly becoming one of my most used apps installed on my Droid X! I resisted the whole book reader on my cell phone for a long time. Well actually it’s been there all along but I resisted using it for more then a year. My thought was that it was just going to be so small that it would be too hard to read. I knew that you could increase the text size but then I felt like I’m be turning pages so much that it would be way too annoying.

Discovering Google Books

So like most all of my other solid app discoveries it came when I was stuck with some downtime when I was bored and looking to pass the time. So I started looking through the apps that I have on my phone. With the the talk of Kindles and Nooks and all that it’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while because I do enjoy to read.

So when I looked I have Google Books and Amazon Kindle installed on my phone. I didn’t download these apps so I assume that they were there when I got the phone. So since I like everything else that Google does, I tried that. I was still not that optimistic but luckily they have three classics all ready installed that you could read for free. One was Alice in Wonderland which I clicked on and played around with to see what it was like. Surprisingly it wasn’t really that hard to read at all. I do turn the page pretty often but it’s far less distracting then I thought it would be!

So then I went into their book store to see what they had to offer. It appears that they have quite a few books you can download just like any of the other readers I assume. They were a little pricier then I thought they would be just for a downloaded book, but when I looked into it more they are in line with everyone else’s pricing.

So I chose Michael Connelly’s Suicide Run. It was only $2.99 (I assume because it’s probably in paperback now) and I could get a free sample so I went for it. It let me read the first ten pages. I was impressed both with the book, and the feel and flow of the Google Reader, so I spent the $2.99. Now it’s on my phone and it loads very quickly. So anytime I have downtime I can pull it up quickly and read. It’s so quick that I’ll sometimes pull it up and just read a page or two. It even remembers where I left off and opens up right to the page I left off on.

I haven’t tried using Google Books online but I assume they have a website where you could pull up the books you have purchases on your laptop and read there, and remember where you left off and all that cool stuff. I’ll look into that aspect more and report back.

Text Books

Another cool thing about Google Books is that you can find all kinds of offerings. I have a friend that is taking a college class that found his text books on Google Books. He downloaded it for cheaper then it could be purchased at the school book store and he’s ready to go. Now he has the book in soft copy and can use it where ever he has internet access or right on his phone! Now that is Cool Stuff!

Google Docs

Google Docs AppGoogle Docs is my new favorite thing out there on the cloud! Google does everything and they do everything well! Basically Google Docs is the answer to Microsoft Office, but it’s all on the cloud. The applications are on the cloud and the the data is on the cloud. As long as you have an internet connections you have everything you need for creating office type files!

Obviously there are some strong pros and cons for cloud computing in general, but over all I really think the good far out weighs the bad! The only real downside is making sure you have an internet connection and trusting the source to be always available. So let’s say you do a large presentation on Google Presentation. You are going to give this presentation to a large crowd out of town. You get there assuming there will be an internet connection but there isn’t. You are in some trouble. Or worse let’s say you do have an internet connection but for some reason Google’s servers are down and you can get to it. Scary stuff.

The Good 

The good news is, at least for Google, they are almost never down! I mean it does happen but it is really really rare, and very short if it does happen. I feel very confident trusting my office files to Google. And really other then a pressure situation where you need it for a presentation then if they were down for a short period it wouldn’t really effect you all that much! And let’s be honest, in a presentation situation like that Google being down is comparable to you forgetting to pack the CD with the presentation, or that CD getting destroyed on the plane or some other physical issue like that. I’d rather take my chances that Google can come through then worrying if the baggage handlers can take care of the CD!

The App

I’m really excited now too that I found out there is a Google Docs app that I can install on my Android phone for free. It of course is a little more limited in functionality then the full version you will see on your computer or laptop, but when you are on the go and not near a computer it really is awesome! It’s best if you just need to view one of your documents to find out some information or review. You can edit your documents but because of the screen size limitations it is a little clunky. I would only really try to edit Google documents on my phone in emergency situations.

The other thing I use the Google Docs app for on my phone is to share documents. Google Docs is really slick when it comes to collaborating with others on the same documents. You can grant someone access based on their email address and you can both work on the same document at the same time! Or instead of emailing someone a document and then later after revisions emailing it to them again (and everyone being confused because they are working off an older version), you can just grant them permission to view the document. Saves on clogging up everyone’s email boxes and you know everyone is always viewing the latest version of your document. Awesome stuff!

GTasks – Increase your Productivity with this App

Prioritize and be Efficient with G TasksGTasks probably ranks in my top 5 as far as Apps that I use the most on my smart phone (I have the Droid X running the Android operating system). If you are a Google person in general, like I am, then you are all ready familiar with Google Tasks that you can use when you are in Gmail. It’s that bar at the bottom that you activate which is basically a To-Do list, or more appropriately a Task List.

Google Tasks is great because it is a virtual to do list which you always have with you. Anytime you are on gmail you have a the bar of what you need to get done right there. You can minimize it so there is just a bar there (which frees up the screen when writing emails), or expand it and have a small window right there on the screen. You can also popout the whole thing to be it’s own tab full screen.

Why Download GTasks?

GTasks is the smartphone app that links directly to Google Tasks. You can create lists specific to your phone, or you can just look at the same list that you have going on Google Tasks. That’s what I always do, just one big list, which I prioritize and knock out each day.

There are a ton of to do lists out there but for me GTasks is the only one you need for one very specific reason. You can set dates when the task need to be complete and set alarms as well. So you might add an item that has to be done by next Wednesday. After a couple days it could get lost in the shuffle with many other tasks, but if you set an alarm it’ll pop up so you don’t forget.

The other great function that I like a lot is you can make the tasks and reminders recurring. So for instance, I have to put my garbage out on Monday night for Tuesday morning pick up. I set a weekly recurring task for 8:30p to take out the trash. I would forget every week if not for Gtasks! I put the cans out by the road and I click the check for done. Then next week it’ll remind me again.

 

So download GTasks and in a few mins you’ll all ready have the hang of it. Just the process of listing what you need to get done will help to make sure you aren’t forgetting things. Then working with GTasks as the day goes on will help you prioritize and be much more efficient. Before you know it you’ll be ahead of schedule…who would have thought that would be possible?!