I was just pondering how much stuff I use now that is Google related. I’ve used all types of products in my time with IT and in college and I have to say that I have seen my own personal shift towards Google and it surprised me quite a bit on how much I rely on the products of this company.
Lets take email as a prime example. Before GMail came out, I was tied into using my ISP’s email service or the venerable Hotmail of which I have been a proud member since 1996. I still use Hotmail from time to time but its mostly for junk or promotions. Once I heard about GMail and its 2 gigs of storage I thought it was freaking awesome and I signed up via one of those invitations you needed to get. The best part was that it had free POP access so I could ditch my ISP’s email, I used an email address from my old school and had them reroute everything to GMail, I in turn forwarded all that mail to another GMail account that I created so I can get it on my phone. I have yet a 3rd out there just holding files since some genius came up with the idea of GDrive so I could use it as an internet hard drive. Nowadays I rely on GMail for all my personal correspondence with anyone except for tech support which I still use Hotmail for. If Hotmail still had free POP, I would probably be using them right now but alas they don’t so GMail it is.
Another fine Google product that I’ve started to use is the new Google Calendar. I like how I am able to have multiple calendars to sort my life out. I personally use Outlook at home because it syncs with my Treo and I also have a Plaxo account that synch with Outlook so I’m never without my calendar or contacts. But the collaboration abilities with Google Calendar are awesome. I can see my calendar in pretty colors, add more calendars as I need them, and add calendars of family and friends. Now my only problem with the calendar as it stands is that I can’t access it from my Treo, nor can I export the calendar into a format that my Treo will accept. I’m hoping that this will be solved then I might just totally move to Google Calendar. As it is, I’m just testing it and messing around but it seems very useful so far.
Maps is a big part of my life since I always seem to find myself in unfamiliar places when driving around Florida. I’ve remedied that recently with my TomTom GPS Navigator software and Bluetooth GPS receiver but before all that I relied on internet maps. The grand daddy of them all in my view has always been Mapquest. For as long as I can remember I’ve always used map quest, that is until Google Earth and Google Maps came around. Not only were the maps better than Mapquest, I could view aerial photo’s of where I was going and the directional lines would show up perfectly. There have been lots of custom maps around the net but I haven’t used any of them. My wife still relies on them since my GPS is connected to my phone but until I see MS Live maps and Yahoo’s Maps Beta best Google, I think I’ll be sticking with Google Maps for now.
I subscribe to a lot of Google services but the last ones I’ll talk about are the new spreadsheet and word processing apps. I’ve recently tested these out with some simple documents and I can heartily say that these apps are pretty decent. I haven’t tried more complex stuff like calculations or advanced formatting but for simple stuff its still pretty good. The only downside is that you have to be connected but the up side is that it can import documents and you can collaborate with people in real time. That to me is pretty awesome and sure as hell beats emailing docs all around town. There are free apps like OpenOffice.org but those are local to your PC so you can’t collaborate or share. Man you gotta love all these new web appliances.
So what does this all mean? Well really right now, the only thing that matters to me is my venerable email and as long as GMail is the king and I can get it via POP I won’t be switching anytime soon. As for the other services, they’re definitely nice to have in a pinch and pretty fun to play with. And to show how much Google invades my life, my blog where I write all my rantings and ravings is on Blogger which of course is owned by Google 🙂 Now if I could only get my hands on Blogger Beta………..