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Several of Google’s Android apps and services have become deeply woven into our lives over the years. Others are familiar only to dedicated Google fans.

Some of these lesser-known offerings are highly experimental or target only a limited number of people, but they’re all genuinely cool. Here are five of them.

1. Google Cardboard

You’ve heard about Google Glass. Whether you can afford a pair or not, it’s probably not something you want to spend $1,500 on Why An Augmented Reality Future (Google Project Glass) Scares Me [Opinion] Why An Augmented Reality Future (Google Project Glass) Scares Me [Opinion] At the beginning of April Google unveiled Project Glass, a new effort to bring smartphone functionality to your eyeball(s). And that's not me overstating the case. This is a HUD (Heads-Up Display) offering augmented reality,... Read More . I hear you.

But that’s not Google’s only attempt at augmenting reality. It has another experiment in the works that takes a significantly more immersive approach, and it does so for much less money. As in, it’s free.

Google Cardboard debuted at this year’s Google I/O. Think of it as a do-it-yourself take on the Oculus Rift. Instead of buying a pricey product, you go to the website and follow the instructions to build your own pair of goggles out of cardboard.

Google-Apps-Cardboard

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Then you grab the Cardboard app, drop your phone into the front of your creation, and put everything on your face.

With this app taking over your vision, you can take a walk through the streets of a foreign city, look at photo spheres as though you’re actually there, or watch YouTube videos on a seemingly massive screen.

Google-Apps-Cardboard-Earth

2. Google Express

You’re used to turning to Google for information. Whether you’re looking for a particular website in a list of search results, digging up an old email, or looking for a contact’s phone number, there’s a good chance Google can help you find it.

But what if Google could help you get actual stuff — real, tangible products — delivered to your door today? Depending on where you live, it can.

Google-Apps-Shopping-Express

People living in Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C., Manhattan, Northern California, San Francisco, and West Los Angeles can turn to the Google Express app to get household items and groceries dropped off at their door steps. Partners include the likes of Costco, Kohl’s, REI, Target, and Whole Foods.

Google-Apps-Shopping-Express-Locations

3. Google Helpouts

The Internet has made discovering the answers to any and all questions feel as though it’s just a matter of initiative. With enough searching, you can seemingly figure out how to do whatever you want.

Only things aren’t always what they seem. Sometimes you just need to talk to a living person, even if you aren’t sitting face-to-face. Google Helpouts can connect you to just the right one Google Publicly Launches Helpouts For Real Time Expert Help Via Hangouts Google Publicly Launches Helpouts For Real Time Expert Help Via Hangouts Google Helpouts is an instructional service that will connect people who need help on any topic with experts. The live one-on-one sessions over Hangouts video chat come completely personalized. Join in. Read More .

Google-Apps-Helpouts

The app gives you a list of topics and provides you with people who can help you tackle them, whether it’s a matter of losing weight or understanding algebra.

Some folks will talk for free while others want money for their time (nothing unusual there). Helpouts works with Hangouts to open a video chat between the two of you, so that you can get the information you need without spending all of your free time searching.

Google-Apps-Helpouts-Tutor

4. One Today

Have Google services changed your world for the better? Good, now you can return the favor. No, One Today isn’t an app for compensating Google in some way (you can check out the Google Opinion Rewards app Answer Surveys To Receive Play Store Credit With The New Google Opinion Rewards App Answer Surveys To Receive Play Store Credit With The New Google Opinion Rewards App Google has released a new app that allows you to earn Play Store credits by answering surveys. The Google Opinion Rewards app is U.S. only for now. Read More for that). This is about using one of the company’s services to make the world a better place.

Each day you fire up the app to see which causes catch your interest. You can donate money towards educating young girls, transporting soldiers back home to their families when they return home from deployment, or helping communities access clean water.

Google-Apps-One-Today

You could contribute a dollar a day, as the name implies, but you can always offer up more. You can even donate money for other people to delegate out, so that other users who don’t have the funds can still have some say in which causes get help.

5. Primer: Marketing for Startups

Primer: Marketing for Startups has a very specific focus, and even if you’re among its targeted users, it’s probably not going to be an app you turn to often. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time.

This app appears in the Play Store under Google Learn, and it is out to assist you in marketing your products. Whether you’re an independent developer, a freelance graphic designer, or a pet shop owner, this app wants to help you develop your brand. It does so through a series of short lessons that each shouldn’t take more than several minutes to complete.

Google-Apps-Primer-Startups

Will Primer: Marketing for Startups provide you with comprehensive guidance? No. But it can get your mind churning in the right direction. You can turn to other Android apps to actually help you get work done How Apps Can Help Any Freelancer Or Small Business Owner Be Productive How Apps Can Help Any Freelancer Or Small Business Owner Be Productive There are so many app for Android and iOS that can improve your productivity as a freelancer or small business owner; let's find the best of them. Read More .

Which Google App Are You About To Download?

I write about Android and Google for a living, yet there was still one app on this list I  had never heard about before approaching this post.

There are many of you who follow this even more closely than I do. Which lesser-known Google-made Android apps do you think more people should get their hands on?

  1. Del Oppenheimer
    December 11, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Google DH20 (as in Drink H20) is my favorite little known Google app.. No matter where I am, or where I say I am, in the world, it can tell me how far it is to the nearest known potable water. Depending where you are, it can be easy or it can be dauntingly difficult just to get a drink of water. You can also input a new source of water that has to somehow get verified, but I've yet to do that feature. A real eye opener when one finds out that they are so far away from water that if walking, they may be dead before they can get to it..

  2. Ron Ablang
    December 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I don't have a need for any of the 5, but I like what one commenter suggested, "Google Opinion Rewards". Thanks.

  3. Shawn
    December 9, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Google Gesture Search is a weird app that once you use you think "Why didn't I download this before now?". It's pretty fast and the widget is what makes it work well when you can't use "OK Google".

  4. SciFiJim
    December 9, 2014 at 12:15 am

    I have been using Google Opinion Rewards for several months now. The surveys only get you 10 to 50 cents each. I have about $8 credit to spend in the Google play store. The surveys are short and easy.

    • Dianne
      December 21, 2014 at 5:07 am

      Yeah. I love it. I've got 15 bucks! I don't have to go through a lot of red tape to spend it at the App Store either.

  5. Mechee
    December 6, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    I like Google Goggles. It scans photos and displays search results relevant to what it scanned

  6. Joe
    December 5, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    [EDIT:] My mistake. Mapmaker is web, not Android app.

  7. Joe
    December 5, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Google Mapmaker: contribute local adjustments to Google Maps

  8. Ben S
    December 5, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I'd heard of Google Cardboard, but never Helpouts. It's a cool idea, and I can't believe I've never heard of it before!

    A similar fun topic would be exploring Google's failed or dead projects. There's a lot of those, too.

  9. jamieg
    December 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I don't think a lot of people are aware of Google Tracks. I use for shorter hikes to map my path and capture important waypoints.

    • Mathew
      December 9, 2014 at 3:59 am

      Google tracks is awesome! I play Ingress (game made by Google) and use it to follow me as I play (it's a geocaching game/augmented reality). I can then share my route with other players. I've also used it when bar hopping to improve my route next weekend. I used C2-5K to train to run 15-20 miles at a time but Google' My Tracks has helped me keep track of distance during off road running.

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