Google Products, Explained
Google produces plenty of very useful products that are quite palatable for consumers and businesses alike. They have a great track record for their shareholders and customers; in addition they routinely come out on top as the #1 place to work according to Forbes.com. Google is known for a few of their most recognized products such as Google Search, Chrome, Maps, Gmail, Youtube, and Android (all which are available for free). However this page will highlight some of their less recognized products that are more than worth a look.
Google's Chromebook is an inexpensive laptop ($150-$400) that is great for general web surfing and document editing. Requires absolutely no learning curve and all it requires is a free Google Account (Gmail, Android, etc). The caveat to this laptop is that it runs Chrome OS which is basically an internet browser on a laptop. You cannot install any apps that you would normally be able to install on a Windows or Mac, but this is also a pro because it will not be able to install any viruses or malware, so you never have to worry about this aspect of internet security. The fact of the matter is that most applications are now hosted primarily on the web so you will find this device very useful as a secondary laptop around the house or for a child going to college. It does have Google Docs and Drive as a replacement for Microsoft Office and it's productivity suite, however you are free to use any of the other online based suites offered by Microsoft or Dropbox.
Google's Chromecast is the #1 selling media streaming device on the market today. It competes with other products such as Apple TV, Roku, Amazon's Fire Stick, and various miracast screen mirroring products. The device is a little larger than a USB flash drive and plugs into any TV that has an HDMI port. Simply download the Chromecast app and link it to your home WIFI then you can 'cast' apps from your phone, tablet, or computer to your TV. It is incredibly easy to use and works with hundreds of apps like Youtube, Netflix, Pandora, and many more, plus on certain devices you can 'cast' your entire screen to the TV.
Google's Smart Watch is known as Android Wear, Google's software OS for their Smart Watches. Similar to their phone philosophy, there are many different watch manufacturers but they all run the same OS, Android Wear. The purpose of a smart watch is make notifications from your phone more accessible and instantaneous without the hassle of taking your phone out of your pocket or purse. A smartwatch can also be used to initiate Google searches, make calls, send texts, track steps, take voice notes, and it could even tell you the time (really?). Smart Watches are certainly not for everyone, but that is also what people said in 2007 when Smart Phones came out, now they are a normal part of everyone's lives. I recommend the Moto 360; beautiful design, customizable to your liking from the website with a great price.
Google Contacts is more of a background service on Android/iOS phones, but the importance of it is vital. No matter what phone you have, you will always store contacts, so needless to say, there are many methods to this madness. Some are stored on SIM cards, some on the phone, some on cloud accounts, some on Mobile provider's servers, it can get very confusing fast if you are not deliberate about what you are doing. The best way to handle this is making sure you store ALL contacts to your primary Google Account on your phone, this way you can always retrieve all your contacts from any device at any time. This might mean you will have to go into your contacts and merge your contacts with Google or import them into your Google account. One of the best features of this is that you can go to google.com/contacts (the link above) and view/update all contacts on your computer and watch your updates synchronize to all your devices at once. Plus you can import/export contacts to and from other Google accounts from the web interface at any time. Google Contacts also work great on iOS or Windows phones.
Google Docs and Drive (Microsoft Office Replacement) is Google's Cloud drive and Office productivity suite, completely compatible with Microsoft Office. This is the primary Office productivity suite on Chromebooks. All your documents are safely backed up to the cloud automatically for access on any device at any time. This model of cloud storage and Office productivity suite is the most common method for document editing with similar free suites from Microsoft Dropbox, Box, and Microsoft. Documents can be edited online and shared to multiple people for collaboration or viewing on any device. Ever since Google started pushing this model of cloud drive with Office productivity, all competitors have followed suit, if you are not currently using this method for your Office productivity we recommend you switch to this method. This is the future, this is more secure, and is much more useful in our day and age with the current multi-device world.
Google Hangouts is Google's cross platform messaging, texting, and video chat service. Google Hangouts works on Android, iOS, and the Web, all conversations synchronized together so you can send a message to someone from your phone, then easily reply to it on your tablet, followed by a video chat in the same window on your computer. It is incredibly versatile and integrated well across all devices; completely seamless interaction across all your contacts and conversations. In addition, if you link your Google Voice number to Hangouts, you will be able to send and receive your text messages directly from Hangouts across all devices, meaning you can send texts and answer your phone calls from your computer or tablet.
Google My Maps (Map Editor) is the editing extension to Google Maps. This tool allows you to make completely customizable maps for various reasons like vacations, routes for work/business trips, printable navigation, or anything else. You can also import customizable icons if the vast default selection does not meet your needs. Since it uses Google Drive for the map storage, you can access and share these maps with anyone you choose to open on their own Smart device. You can download the Android version or just share the link as is, either way, this is one of my most popular Google applications. In addition, if you would really like to explore the world around you, try out Google Treks.
Google Now is Google's Mobile information system, it strives to give you the right information at the right time, from weather, to traffic, to sports, to reminders. The great thing about this service is that it will automatically update you with relevant information based on your location, weather, traffic, and many other factors. The information is usually accessed by holding down your phone HOME button and dragging up. All the info is presented in easily manageable cards that can be swiped away when you are done with them. These cards give you relevant information in Google Now, Google Search, Android Wear and many other Google products.
Google Photos is Google's new totally synchronized Photo application for Android, iOS, and the web. This revolutionizes smart devices and how they interact with your photos. This application will automatically backup all your photos you take with your device at a high quality (up to 16MP, anything higher will be compressed) for free with unlimited storage, so you will never have to worry about losing or backing up your photos when you change/lose a phone or tablet. Not only does this backup your photos, it makes them easily accessible from Google's patented search algorithm by simply searching food or kids in the search bar. It will also automatically categorize your pictures based on people's face and environment to help you to easily bring up all pictures of a given person or thing. The app will also provide you with useful automatic shareable photo products based on certain things like location and time, they call this Assistant. Here is a great example of someone's full review of Google Photos.
Google Voice is a phone number provided by Google with unlimited possibilities. Give out 1 number to forward to all your phones at the same time. This means 1 voicemail and 1 common access point to all your settings including text messages. No matter how many times you change your landline or cell phone number, everyone only sees your Google Voice number. You can make calls and send text messages from your computer, no need to be tied down to 1 device, great for businesses!
Google Fi Cell Service is a cell phone service provided by Google that attempts to change the way wireless providers do business. The only drawback is that you need to use one of their handpicked phones in order to use the service. These are the Motorola Nexus 6, LG Nexus 5X, and the Huawei Nexus 6p. The Nexus 6p is actually one the best Android phones available. If you have an unlocked version of one of these phones, the plan is simple. $20/month for unlimited talk and text, and $10 for every GB of data. You only pay for data that you use, if you use 1.5GB then you pay $35 for the month; $20 for service and $15 for the data. No overages, no contracts, no surprises. The service runs off of 3 different sources, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Wifi, whichever signal is strongest, that is what tower/hotspot your phone connects to. The switching is completely automatic and transparent to the user. In addition, if you use Google Voice, you are able to use this number as your primary phone number for your designated Fi device.
Even though all of Google's products are free of cost, the company has to make money some how, so what they do is use your demographic information and usage of their products to provide and sell targeted advertisements. They keep your personal information confidential, but use that information to make their advertisements more relevant to you and thus more relevant to business which equals more money for Google. This type of revenue realized via targeted advertisements accounts about about 96% of Google's total revenue each year. For more specifics on this policy, please visit this website.