Google is doing so many things all the time, it’s difficult to keep a track of every new release or update. Plus, not everything that the internet giant releases is gold. But in the past few months, five of their launches are worth knowing.
From freeing up space on your phone to weekend techie projects for beginners and kids, there’s a little something for everyone here. It’s all free, of course, but there is the cost of giving Google access to your information.
1. Google Maps Space (Web): Explore the Great Beyond With Google Maps
You’re probably familiar with Google Maps. It came from the famous Google Earth software, which recently got an update. Now how would you like to go beyond Earth and into the great beyond?
Google Maps Space lets you explore several planets in our solar system, many moons, and even the International Space Station (ISS). It’s a fascinating trip through space for those of us who can’t actually fly up there. Google uses satellite imagery as well as high-resolution photos from space organizations to put the whole thing together.
It’s also a learning experience. Click any labeled item and a small pop-up will explain what it is. This includes both man-made objects (like on the ISS or satellites) as well as natural formations on planets like Venus and Mars.
2. Files Go by Google (Android): Free Up Storage Space on Phones
It’s the most common problem for Android users. Sooner or later, you run out of storage space. Google has already lessened this burden with unlimited cloud storage for Photos, but what about others? The Files Go app is here to solve the problem once and for all.
This is a smart app that runs in the background, monitoring the various ways that your storage is being used. Among its features, it will:
- Give you reminders when storage is almost full
- Point out apps you haven’t used in 30 days so you can uninstall them
- Alert you when downloaded files take up space
- Highlight those media folders taking up too much space
- Show you when you have duplicate files
Like with the Photos app, a series of smart assistants will help you set all this up and show you how to save space. Plus, Google’s Files Go is completely free and ad-free, unlike several similar apps on the Play Store.
Download: Files Go by Google for Android (Free)
3. Google Go (Android): Faster, Lightweight Google for Slow Connections
With the “Go” series of apps, Google is trying to improve the performance of its services on older or budget Android phones. We’ve already seen this with YouTube Go to download videos, and now there’s Google Go to make search and other basic internet services faster on slow internet connections.
The Go app targets Google’s main online services: search, voice search, image search, GIFs, YouTube, weather, Google Translate, and Maps. Tap any one, or search in it, and it will open faster than your default app for these ever could. You can even add more than one language, and find Google Trends in both languages.
Oh, and did I mention it’s only 5MB in size? Ideal for an old Android, this is the lightweight Google search app that you’ve been waiting for. It’s especially great when you have poor network connectivity and are on 2G or EDGE speeds.
Download: Google Go for Android (Free)
4. New Google Calendar (Web): The Long-Awaited Update Is Finally Here
Not every update is about bringing in a slew of new changes and improvements. Google Calendar is already an excellent calendar app, except for an outdated design. That’s finally changing with an update that refreshes the look and feel of Google Calendar.
While the new look is the big news, the developers have slipped in a few useful features nonetheless. Clicking an event now opens a small pop-up that shows the details, instead of taking you to a new page. It’s much nicer than the old system where you had to go back and forth often.
And Google has fixed one of the most irksome parts of Calendar. Event invitations are finally color-coded! When you accept, decline, answer “maybe,” or avoid an invitation, it will look different on your calendar. A small, simple addition like this can change how you use Google Calendar.
Download: To get the new update, go to this link and follow the instructions.
5. Paper Signals (Web): DIY Beginner-Level Electronics Projects With Paper
If you have always been a bit hesitant about trying a DIY technology project, Paper Signals is a great start. In fact, you could even turn it into a weekend project with your kids as a group activity. It’s perfectly suited for children as well as adults.
Here’s how it works. Google has designed a set of cool DIY paper figures, like a paper umbrella that expands when it’s raining, or a paper countdown timer. Print out these figures from the Paper Signals site.
Next, assemble the paper figure as instructed. You will need a few basic electronic parts, like a micro servo motor, an Adafruit Feather HUZZAH (a tiny all-in-one logic board), a micro USB cable, and mini jumper wires.
The step-by-step instructions are simple and easy to follow for anyone, including kids. Plus it’s quite safe since the voltage is never high in case of small shocks, and it requires no dangerous tools apart from a pair of scissors and a craft knife. Paper Signals is the ideal beginner’s kit to get started with DIY electronics project.
Is Google Still Impressive?
Sometimes, it seems like Google isn’t as impressive as it once was. There was a time when it created ground-breaking things like Search, Gmail, Maps, and Translate. But since then, it seems like its great moments aren’t something the public can take advantage of. For example, its AI AlphaGo beat the best chess computer in history, but well, that’s not something you and I can use right now.
Is Google losing its wow factor, or is it still as impressive for you?