Google never ceases to stop innovating. Even after releasing a ton of interesting updates this year, the Internet giant has launched even more new apps and features to make life easier for its users.
Yes, Google knows a lot about you and it can be a bit scary to rely on it more and more. But given how seamlessly all its products and services work with each other, it’s difficult to resist using them.
From making it easier to follow up on your long-term goals to giving away $150 worth of software for free, here are the new Google tools and updates that will blow you away.
Goals in Google Calendar (Android, iOS): Automatically Find Time for Good Habits in Your Calendar
Last year, the addition of Reminders made Google Calendar into an incredible to-do list app. The company recognizes how important a calendar is to people’s productivity, so it has added one more feature for those seeking to improve themselves this year. Goals asks what habit you want to form, and automatically finds slots for it in your busy schedule.
A simple guide helps you add new goals (like exercising or learning a new language), and then automatically finds pockets of time in your calendar when you can do this activity. Did you do your activity when asked? Mark it as done! Couldn’t do it? Tap Defer, and Calendar will find a new slot for it so you don’t miss it completely. Goals in Calendar has all the fundamental elements of forming a new habit even when it’s hard.
Save to Google (Chrome, Web): A Pocket-Like Bookmarking Service from Google
Here at MakeUseOf, we firmly believe that Pocket is the ultimate digital bookmarking service. But Google has new competition, which is better and worse in some ways. The new Save to Google is only available as a Chrome extension right now and its features are limited, but there are some good bits about it.
You can save any link with the extension, and add tags to it. Along with tags, Save to Google lets you write notes so that you remember why the link is important — a feature Pocket doesn’t have. Another one of the cool aspects is the ability to save images from a Google Image Search!
On the down side, you can only use this Chrome extension to add links right now. And to view them, you have to go to google.com/save and sign in. No apps for smartphones at the moment, but you should check out Google’s URL Shortener for Android if that’s what you want.
Download: Save to Google for Chrome
Google Nik (Windows, Mac): $150 of Photoshop and Lightroom Plug-ins for Free
Nik, a collection of photo editing plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, was bought by Google a few years ago. And much like Google shut down Picasa recently, it also shut any further work on the Nik collection. The good news? All of these plug-ins are now available for free, instead of their earlier price of $150.
Of course, you’ll need to know which is better for you, Photoshop or Lightroom, but this is a seriously impressive collection for free. There are seven plug-ins in total: Analog Efex Pro (look and feel of old cameras), Color Efex Pro (filters for color correction), Silver Efex Pro (black and white images), Viveza (masks for color and tonality), HDR Efex Pro (everything to do with HDR photos), Sharpener Pro (to enhance details), and Dfine (noise reduction for your camera). If you need any help with one of the plug-ins, head to the Nix YouTube channel for tutorials.
Undo Edits in Google Photos (Android, Web): Permanently Save Original Pictures
If we had to pick an online photo storage solution now, it would have to be Google Photos. You get free, unlimited storage with great editing tools, not to mention automatic backups of your smartphone pictures and the new “Smart Albums” that intelligently organize images into folders.
Google has now added one more neat feature to Photos and it will forever change how you look at online photo management: permanent storage! Feel free to edit any image in Google Photos. With a couple of clicks, you can undo all your edits and restore the original. There’s no fear of messing up an image, or for that matter, wanting the original back months or years after you’ve edited it.
The feature is available on the Web and Android versions right now, and should roll out to the iOS app soon as well.
Metronome (Web): An Adjustable Metronome Baked into Google Search
Regular users know that Google search has cool tools built into it, from a clock and a countdown timer to translations and demographics. Musicians will be happy to know that you can add a functional metronome to that list. Just search for “metronome” and you’ll get this little app:
Using it is dead simple. Set it to the number of beats per minute you want (as low as 40, as high as 208), and click the “Play” button. Just like that, you have a steady tempo to practice playing your preferred musical instrument. And yup, it works on smartphones too, so you don’t need to carry a metronome with you!
Any Other Cool New Google Apps or Updates?
Google has been on a roll lately. It released Google Destinations, which is arguably the best vacation planner for Android. And Google Drive recently got an update that lets desktop users finally select specific folders to sync with their Windows or Mac computers.
Have you seen any other new Google app or feature that caught your fancy? What’s your take on the above new offerings? Goals for Calendar sounds really cool to me!