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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?