It’s an irony that Google hides behind its simple page, a gargantuan network of subsidiary web services. The one textbox page of Google Search is like a little door that leads inside to a labyrinth. The way we navigate through Google could make it our Aladdin’s Cave or our personal la-la land.
A couple of years ago a poll asked our readers about the “other” Google Services that they used. Minus Google Search, the results brought forward the usual suspects. That’s the idea behind compiling this list on the uncommon Google services that we might not be going to or may not have the need for. Also, sometimes these services are so well integrated in the usual search results that they don’t get that attention.
We have covered some of these places singly before, or through lists like 10 Google Services That Get No Love. The commonplace is sometimes boring, so let’s hop off the beaten path for once. After visiting these ten web places, we can always come back to the usual.
A fun site that mixes storytelling with the topic of search we do on Google. Take the help of the Search Stories Video Creator, enter seven search queries across Google’s search tools, choose a background song and upload automatically on YouTube if you wish. It could be great for offbeat messages. For more inspiration check out the videos on the site.
Usually we type in the movie name with the city or zip code to get the list. Google Search lists three films with a link to more. The movie search is also a standalone page in itself that asks for a second glance. For instance, you can check out ratings and reviews, plus the locations on Google Maps. You can sort the results by movies, theatre, day, and genre. Sure beats flipping the newspaper.
If you don’t have a thing for lines and curves (of the design kind), you can give Google SketchUp’s library a miss. But it is an excellent 3D model website and a must visit if you are the creative sort. For instance, check out the “˜spaceship’ results as in the screenshot. 3D Warehouse models are also reusable in your own SketchUp projects.
We see it in geotagged photos on Google Maps or Google Earth. You can sign in with your Google account and upload your geo-located photos (up to 2GB). Photos uploaded here are viewable in activated layers in the two Google apps.
Like other photo-sharing websites, users can restrict access-sharing or provide it under a Creative Commons license. You can directly search by location from the site itself. The photos are displayed alongside a Google Map.
Mark did a post last year on this very subject. Check it out here.
Aardvark is the social question and answer service that was acquired by Google early this year. Aardvark attempts to connect your queries to the right people with firsthand knowledge. Aardvark looks at the questions to see what they’re about and then pairs the question to people with the knowledge to give you an answer.
Aardvark taps into the network using mediums like IM or email as well as syncs with Facebook. Aardvark claims that “˜most questions are answered within 5 minutes, and the vast majority is answered within 10 minutes’ (depending on the nature of the question).
David did an article on Aardvark last year.
I took a pretty detailed look at Google Sidewiki last year. Sidewiki is like a sideswiping toolbar in your browser that allows you to add comments and insight on any webpage. It is very similar to adding web notes or annotating webpages you find worthy (or unworthy). Sidewiki adds extra bits to the content you already see and it may further lead you to more resources contributed by others. You can also share your comments via Twitter and Facebook.
Google Code Search is a very useful tool for software developers as it gives them a shortcut to speed up product development. It is also a great learning tool for newbie programmers. Google Code Search refers to publicly available code which is usually a part of Open Source software development. For instance, a basic use could be to find good coding examples for a particular language.
We are quite familiar with Google News. While it aggregates current news from around the world, the Google News Archive Search page is an easy way to search and explore historical archives. The timeline is a useful tool as it tells you when some particular news was “˜hot’. If you are into research, clicking on the peaking blue areas on the timeline could lead you to a motherlode of information.
The archive can of course, be accessed from the regular Google News page too with a couple of clicks.
Google Fast Flip
Update: No longer available.
Google Fast Flip is a news reader with a difference. The Google Labs project gives you online news reading with an offline touch. You can flip through the thumbnails of your favorite Google News sources. The flip through is meant to also speed up scanning or reading when we have to go through a lot of news. More than the browser version, I feel that the mobile site of Google Fast Flip (for iPhone and Android) is better suited for what this Google service is trying to do.
With the lion’s share going to Blogger (a Google service), WordPress and other content management platforms, Google Sites is almost like the ugly duckling no one talks about. But as Ryan’s recent post shows it’s a very simple way of making your own free multipurpose webpage or a family site. As the free website building tool is free and quick to build, you can also use it to plan out any content layout.
We have come to expect the unexpected from Google. What is that obscure Google service you think we should use, but don’t?