By now you may have guessed I’m a big fan of Google. Not because they are the biggest kid on the playground, but because they have an awesome approach to what they do. They see people needing something and they solve the problem for free. How can you not succeed when you give people what they want for free?
Many are in their Labs stage of development. A lot of the sites you have grown to love have been in Google Labs at some point. Google Maps, Reader, Docs and Alerts are just a few. Here are a few cool sites you may not be aware Google has in the lab.
Trends is a very handy research and comparison tool. Typing something like [VW, Ford, Fiat] into the search bar results in graphs, location of searches and related news displayed. By comparing multiple search terms simultaneously, time is saved importing the data into spreadsheets or a graph. All of the information is right at your finger tips.
I have also used Trends when quickly comparing keywords (although much better tools are available) to get a general idea for the popularity of the search term.
To help narrow your search, Google offers specialized search engines for different topics. An example might be if you are looking for Linux how-to information. You could go to the Linux search and type in your search term there. This will filter out all of the Windows server information, in-turn cutting down on the amount of sites you might have to look through.
The current specialized searches are: Mac, Windows, Linux, BSD, US Government and University Search lets you to search to a specific school website for things like enrollment info or course schedules.
Search a date in the past to find out what happened. The advanced search allows different criteria to be set up such as a specific newspaper, magazine, blog or baseball scores.
While using Google News Timeline, I did come across some issues. One problem is the magazine or newspaper must have a digital version available in Google’s Book Search or the News Archive. This may be a little bit of a snag if you are trying to do an in depth search for something.
Moderator is a really simple idea. Create a “series” and invite general public to ask questions, give tips, make suggestions or just about any thing else you can think of. It is kind of a mashup of a forum and crowd-sourcing. Your audience will ask questions, then the same people will vote on the question letting you know how many people agree or disagree with what was asked. With some creativity, this could be a great proving ground for products, ideas or services.
Fast Flip (Update: no longer exist)
A quick way to scan through different news sources at the same time. The news feeds can be narrowed by a topic, source, most viewed and several other options. Fast Flip shows a small screenshot of the page usually just big enough to see the major headlines. When you spot something, just click on it to make the page large enough to read. If you could customize the sites and save your choices, it would be pretty cool RSS reader.
City Tours (Update: no longer exist)
Offers a variety of attractions mapped out using Google Maps. Directions, approximate time to see the attraction, walking times to the next destination, ratings and hours of operation. It pretty much takes the guess work out of planning a touristy trip.
What kind of app or site would you like to see Google make next?