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Though it’s where its fame and fortune first came from, Google has advanced far beyond just being the world’s most popular search engine. You and I both know that Google plays host to many amazing services that we use on an everyday basis. Gmail is a great example. I have Gmail. I bet you too have Gmail! How about the late, great Google Reader? That was a service that so many of us would already love to have back. Why Google, why?
These are just two examples, and you’d be pretty surprised to know how many other goodies Google has floating around out there. Beyond their alerts system and floundering social network, Google has developed a wealth of web applications that just aren’t given enough shine. We’ve done articles in the past that help highlight some of Google’s hidden treasures that don’t get the limelight they deserve, but Google is always changing and pumping out more. In this article, let’s look at another three.
Google Trends is a great place to go when you want to see what is hot on the web. When that sort of content comes to mind, the first thing you might think of are Trending Topics over on Twitter. Trends is to Google what Trending Topics are to Twitter, except without the social aspect. You’re getting what is on the rise in Google Search.
As the above screenshot manages to capture pretty well, what you’re normally going to see on this list are things like national or world news and events, movie releases, sports stories, and things of that nature.
Beneath each result, Google gives a rough estimate of the recent increase in searches for terms related to this subject and an immediate link to a related article to help explain the change in search volume.
Google Trends is a localized list, and you’re able to see results from the US, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, India, and more.
Google Fonts is a really quick and simple way to look at hundreds of different font faces through the web browser, offering features that cater more specifically towards webmasters.
This website allows you to view 629 fonts by word, sentence, paragraph, or poster. You’re able to sort this list of fonts by alphabet, when the font was added, by how it’s trending, and more. When you find a font you like, you can add it to your collection of saved fonts for later use.
When you’ve selected the fonts you’re interested in using for your website, simply click the Use button in your collection and you’ll be offered several different ways to import the font to your website.
The best part is these fonts don’t need to be downloaded or anything to be used on your site. You only have to include a single line and a bit of CSS code to your page and you’re able to make use of them, all thanks to the powers of the Google Fonts API. Here is my colleague James taking a look at how you can use Google Fonts in a web project.
While Google Sky is a feature from Google Earth, it does have its own standalone interface on the web.
I don’t need to go on about how awesome Google Earth is, because you’ve surely heard of it by now. How cool is it that we’re able to go practically anywhere on this planet and get an interactive view of the area, all through a website? Google Sky offers this same experience, but the imagery is provided by NASA satellites, the Hubble Telescope, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
Put simply, it is the Google Earth for space exploration. Although the search feature was recently disabled, you’re able to drag and scroll all through the galaxy and zoom in to ridiculous resolutions to see beautiful images of our sky in detail.
Google Sky is a project that was put together by developers during their 20% time, and while it lacks some of the major functionality of services like Google Maps and Google Earth, it’s worth appreciating. If Google keeps up at this pace, we’ll be on track for a Google Universe in the next however-many years!
It’s a short list of services, but a list of very purposeful ones that I can only hope never experience the termination that services like Google Reader and iGoogle are going through. Have you ever used any of these three services before? Which one seems most interesting to you? Leave me a line in the comments below and let me know!