Google. A noun so popular it became a verb. Everyone who uses the Internet knows about Google the search engine, and most are familiar with the free Gmail service, but what about the company's other offerings? From helpful business applications that enable more collaboration with fewer messages to tools that help individuals keep their Web pages organized, Google offers features that make the Internet experience more efficient and fun.
Google Reader helps users keep track of all the Web sites they visit in one place. The tool checks people's favorite news sites and blogs for new content and collects it all in a single location, similar to an inbox for the entire Internet. It also includes a built-in public page the allows users to share interesting content, and users can add custom clips of their latest shared items to their personal Web pages. The integrated feed search helps people find content relevant to them. The service is free and requires no software installation. Google Reader's homepage offers site visitors a tour of the function as well as a link to "Try it out."
Docs is short for documents, not doctors, so visitors won't find medical advice at this Web page. What they will find is a tool for creating and sharing online documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more that allows multiple people to collaborate on a single item without sending e-mails back and forth. People create their documents using their own design or templates available in the online tool and then can share it with others. Edits and changes can be seen in real time by everyone who has access to the item. Users also can upload existing documents in most of the popular file formats such as DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV and PPT. The documents are stored online. The Google Docs Web page takes visitors through features, instructions, examples and more.
Google Translate lets users enter text and URLs or upload documents, and then it translates between 51 different languages. Site visitors also can submit a better translation if they feel they have an enhanced version. The "Translated Search" link enables users to search Web sites in other languages. The "Translator Toolkit" offers features to help people correct automatic translations in an editor, search past translations, publish translations to certain Web sites, collaborate with others and employ more advanced tools. A video tour of the toolkit is available on the Web page. Additional tools and resources include making people's own Web site available in other languages, translating to English with no clicking necessary and one-click translations. The latter two are available via the Google Toolbar download.
Google News aggregates news stories from sources around the world and displays them under traditional news categories as well as a "Most Popular" section. The homepage includes several top stories in each section, and a menu allows visitors to see more stories in a particular category. Users can click on a "YouTube News" link to see videos from that site, or choose the "Google Fast Flip" link and see page captures from various news sites. Google Fast Flip also has a mobile option for iPhone and Android devices. In addition to the stories and sites displayed up front, users can search to find information about specific topics making headlines. Google News also is undertaking an experiment in conjunction with The New York Times and The Washington Post to present complete coverage of ongoing stories on one URL. This allows users to navigate among news, features and opinions without waiting for pages to load. Each story has an evolving summary of events and an interactive timeline. Updates are highlighted each time readers return, while older news is summarized.
iGoogle is a Google Web page customized for individuals. This site offers to create a home page tailored to each user in less than 30 seconds and then displays the information page owners chose as relevant to them. Among the many custom offerings, visitors can receive weather information for one or more locations, read local news stories and pick a theme for their page. A new feature enables users to add social gadgets so they can keep in touch with family and friends, share content and play games. Users who have or create a Google account can access a chat feature.
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