I'm obsessed with technology. I love finding new ways for technology to enhance or improve my life. It's a never ending quest. Hopefully, someday I'll find something technology can do for me and I'll capitalize on the idea and have my own business. It's a dream, an ambition, and a goal.
So, that said, the other day I was in the car with Laura when all of the sudden inspiration struck. Out of nowhere I had my next blog idea. I asked Laura if I could borrow her phone. I called myself and left myself a voicemail with my thoughts. I have this app on my iPhone called
that transcribes my messages, sends me a text message, and an email with an attachment of the voicemail audio as well as the text transcription. I love the transcription feature. So nice to read your voicemail. Something about it makes it feel like I'm getting through my messages faster. And, in this situation, it allowed me to make a digital record (and text transcription) of my idea.
I've digressed. Back to the topic at hand! I find myself wavering back and forth on the question of who dominates in the technology space. Some of the big players include Google, Facebook, and Apple. Over the past couple of months there's been a lot of chatter about Facebook dethroning Google as the new powerhouse web company. Sometimes I feel the same way. Other times I don't. Bottom line is, they're both amazing technology companies. These days I find myself loving Google. Here's why.
Google makes a ton of incredibly useful products. Just off the top of my head, here are the products I use regularly and why I love them.
This goes without saying. Everyone and their dog knows that if you want to find something or are looking for an answer to a question it's ridiculously easy to Google it. Boom.
Google has something like 250 million people using Gmail. I have both a gmail account and a custom gmail for my personal URL. Integrating my existing URL with the Gmail system was a piece of cake. And, I don't have to pay for email hosting somewhere else - Google hosts my email account for free. Not only that, but they're incredibly open. I can use IMAP to access my gmail accounts from my iPhone, home computer, or an internet browser and the IMAP feature constantly updates all of my devices with regards to which messages have been read, replied to, archived, or placed in a folder. It's fantastic. Yahoo doesn't offer this. I can't download my Yahoo mail to my home computer without paying a fee. Thank you, Google, for allowing me to do this for free.
Google Voice is incredible. Once again, for free, I get my own telephone number (personalized if I so desire and if available). I have to integrate the account with an existing telephone (I've chosen my mobile device). So, now I can give out my new telephone number to anyone I want. If I don't answer the call Google Voice will take a message for me. Once again (as with my iPhone app YAP) Google Voice will transcribe the audio to text and will both text me and email me the message (audio and transcription attached). To name just another highlight it allows me to send and receive text messages via a web browser. I love this because I'm best at typing on a full sized keyboard - not a miniature smartphone keyboard or touch screen device. Speed is always a plus for me. Google Voice has so many other neat features it will require an additional blog post.
I love reading blogs. I love reading on the internet. Thank you Google for creating Reader. Reader allows me to access all of my favorite blogs from one central inbox. I follow something like a hundred blogs and I've got them in various folders (Entertainment, Design, Venture Capital, Friends, etc.). Reader keeps track of my unread posts, new content, and allows me to mark posts as favorites and offers the ability to share posts. It's a fabulous one-stop-shop when it comes to keeping tabs on all of my favorite blogs.
I've always been a huge fan of Google's book digitization project. Organizing the world's information is one of Google's missions and I think the book project is an excellent example of that. I've used Google books to create various reading lists for myself, such as Books I've Read, Books I'd Like to Read, Books on Finance, Books on Social Media, Classics, etc. Everything is organized around your own personal bookshelves. Basically, you can browse the entire library and then create your own personal bookshelves with what you find. It's amazing. And, I recently purchased a
Barnes & Noble Nook
, which allows me to read some of my books on the go. Further, more props to Google, the Nook operates using Google's Android operating system. It's an open format that allows me to read various electronic book formats (as opposed to the Kindle which only allows .mobi files from the Amazon Kindle Store). If you're looking for a book, check out
. I guarantee you'll find the book, be offered a preview, have the ability to find the book in a library, or be given the option to buy either an electronic copy or a physical copy. I love Google books.
Probably one of the best products Google has ever introduced. I love Google Maps and Google Earth. I've used both for the simple act of plotting directions between locations as well as for more complex tasks such as creating my own private, embeddable, functional maps. I publish panoramic images to a site called
which embeds my panoramas as a layer directly in Google Earth. I love that. I've also mapped locations pertinent to my family history (to illustrate letters sent and received by my great-grandparents during
). I've used maps to show people where I've been (such as on a
rock climbing trip
a couple of weekends ago). I also use maps to track my exercise paths (whether on bike or foot). I only have one request for Google when it comes to the maps feature - please add a "bird's eye view" perspective.
Microsoft's Bing Maps
has a layer called "bird's eye." If you've never experimented with it before, do so now. It's amazing. It offers a view taken from a low flying airplane. It's a great way to check out neighborhoods, etc. I've heard rumors that Google will be using drones equipped with cameras to capture similar imagery. I look forward to seeing this product evolve.
The largest and most accessible video repository on the web, need I say more? Again, a product perfectly aligned with organizing the world's information. Years ago YouTube was populated primarily with personal videos. Now it's home to professional music videos, clips from network news broadcasts, television shows, movies, etc.
Al Jazeera English
offers clips on YouTube as well as streaming video which has allowed that network to reach a huge audience. It is now the number 3 news channel viewed on YouTube. These days YouTube is looking more and more like a network for a post-broadcast world. And, don't worry, you can still find hilarious cat videos too.
In my mind there are three major blogging platforms: wordpress, tumblr, and blogger. I hate to admit it, but blogger is probably my third favorite. Wordpress offers the most features. Tumblr is probably the easiest to use. Blogger is streamlined with limited bells and whistles, but is solid, powerful, and generally stable. To get a feel for how important blogger is you should check out
. The video is a little over 2 minutes long and gives a great background on the product. Again, not in my top two favorite blogging platforms, but still a great product.
Wave has been discontinued but I wish I could use it. A great offering from Google Labs that just never quite caught on. To be honest, I think Google was a bit ahead of the times with this offering. Wave is a collaboration tool. It helps and assists groups of people collaborate on a particular project or idea. Let's say you have a team of people working on a fundraiser or a charity event. Using Wave you can organize all conversations, all documents, all spreadsheets, all graphics, etc. associated with your event. Everyone involved, everyone on your team, has access to one central location where all information and files are stored and organized. Salesforce.com offers a similar product called
. Of course, over at salesforce.com you have to pay for that service. Wave was free.
Google has been consistently innovating in the technology space for over 10 years. They're still innovating and introducing helpful and useful tools. I look forward to the numerous products that are undoubtedly on the way. Go Google!