Google Applications

Much more than just a search engine

There's something special about a company that manages to turn its name into a multilingual, internationally recognized verb. It seems that everyone uses Google's search engine—I can't count the number of times a day that I google the Web for everything from telephone numbers to answers to technical questions. Although known primarily for its search engine, Google is building on that success by offering an array of applications that go beyond its original Web page search functionality. (To obtain one of the applications I mention or learn more about it, google the application at

10: Froogle — Froogle leverages Google's core service to search eBay and other online retailers for products and sorts the results by price and relevance.

9: Google Image Search — Google Image Search conducts keyword searches the same way the standard Google search engine does but returns a list of images instead of Web site links. For example, you can type "Windows Vista screenshots" to find screenshots of the latest Vista build.

8: Google Toolbar — A Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) add-on, Google Toolbar makes it easy to access Google's search capabilities from your Web browser. Simply enter search criteria into the toolbar search box and click Search. The Google Toolbar also provides a pop-up blocker, spell checker, and word translator.

7: Google Maps — Google Maps gives you a map and directions to specific locations, much like MapQuest. To get driving directions, enter your starting and ending locations into the Search the map box and click Search. Google Maps displays a map with your driving route and a set of step-by-step directions.

6: Google Earth — The very cool Google Earth takes the notion of Google Maps and adds satellite images that let you see incredibly detailed aerial photos of almost everywhere on Earth, including your own neighborhood. Google Earth is a Windows and Apple Macintosh application that you download and install on your system. There's a free version and a $400-per-year professional version that offers faster performance, geographic information systems integration, and phone support.

5: Gmail — Gmail is a free email service that competes directly with Microsoft's Hotmail. Gmail provides each email account with up to 2GB of storage and lets you search your Gmail messages-using Google's search engine.

4: Gmail Space — Gmail Space is a Mozilla Firefox add-on that lets you use your Gmail storage for personal storage. Gmail Space is essentially a 2GB virtual hard drive that you can access over the Web. A Gmail Space option on the Tools menu lets you open an FTP-like window and transfer files and folders.

3: Google Calendar — Google Calendar is a Gmail-integrated calendar that lets you share selected entries with other users. It also supports reminders and invitations with responses. Although the current version doesn't synchronize with Outlook, you can manually import your Outlook calendar via Comma Separated Value (CSV) or iCAL files.

2: Google Desktop — Google Desktop extends the Windows desktop by letting you search files on your local and networked systems. Google Desktop also adds a Sidebar to your desktop that contains a collection of gadgets (i.e., mini applications), including RSS feeds, news and weather, a Wi-Fi signal meter, a battery meter, a desktop clock, a calendar, and Gmail integration.

1: Google Spreadsheets — The most surprising Google service to date is the new Google Spreadsheets, a direct competitor of Microsoft Office Excel. Like Excel, Google Spreadsheets can display, sort, and calculate data. Unlike Excel, Google Spreadsheets lets you easily share spreadsheets with other users over the Web. Google Spreadsheets can import files in .xls or CSV formats.

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