The term "google" is popular with internet users as a transitive verb relating to “web search”. But many users are not aware that Google, the company, offers many more useful products and features, that span from its advanced web search applications to working on the cloud and social networking services, that go way beyond the simple term "google", as we know it. This book "Google Beyond google" demonstrates just that: the wide scope of Google products beyond the simple search.
Back in 1996, two students at the Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, built a search engine for web pages that they named Backrub. Backrub used the quality and the quantity of the links pointing towards a page to decide on the importance and the relevance of that specific page. By 1998, they had formalised their work and Google was born.
Google Search turned out to be a remarkable success and even today Google Search has more than 60% of the market share. Such was the popularity and dominance of the Google Search engine that people started using google as a verb. The American Dialect Society declared it the most useful word of 2002. In 2006, the word was officially included in the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam Webster Collegiate dictionary. The verb google means, “to use the Google Search Engine to obtain information on the World Wide Web.”
The use of a brand name as a verb is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it brings glory to the brand for its success, implying acceptance of the company’s product as a standard, on the other it creates trademark complications. But the most significant drawback is that it sends across the message that the company only produces or facilitates what the verb means. It happened to Xerox earlier; Xerox the company is a document management company, which does more than just making photocopiers, but the use of the brand name as a verb somehow restricts the imagination of people.
A similar situation is occurring with Google. Google has grown much bigger today. It is a multi-billion dollar company that has dozens of products and services in various languages, but for most people Google is a just a basic search engine, albeit a good one. As a result, they do not even explore the other product offerings from Google. It seems strange because most of these products are free.
Google itself has claimed that only five percent of the Google users use the advanced features of the Google Search. Is the basic Google Search so good that users do not need to use the advanced features? Google might flatter itself thinking so, but that is not the case. The reality is that most people are not aware of those functions. For example, did you know that if you have to divide the square of the sum of 97 and 26 by the square root of 24, you don’t need to get a calculator, you just have to type “(97+26)^2/(sqrt 24)” in the Google Search bar and the answer is displayed. There are many features like this one in the Google Search and many more power packed product offerings by Google that most people are unaware or ignorant of.
The title of the book, Google Beyond google recognizes this fact and the purpose of this book is to make the reader aware of and introduce the free web applications, besides the basic search, on offer from Google and how they can benefit the regular user. The applications will be introduced as separate chapters and their essential features will be discussed.
Like we said earlier, Google has dozens of products on offer and we cannot cover all of them in this book and hence some of the more common Google products like Blogger, Chrome, Gmail, Apps etc. which are better known and have their own following have been excluded from the scope of this book. We have chosen some of the less known and infrequently used products, which (according to us) will not only enhance the regular user’s experience of the Internet but also empower him to exploit the web efficiently.
In this book, we have grouped the various applications of Google according to their utilization into three sections as follows:
Section I – The Web of Google Search: Beyond the basic search, which is also provided by other search engines, Google takes search deeper by integrating a lot of other functions with search.
This section starts with discussing the advanced features of Google Search and other search related Google applications like Google Maps, Google Places, Google Reader, Google Translate, Google Scholar and Google Alerts.
Section II – Moving on to the Cloud: All of us keep hearing of cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS). What they essentially mean is the delivery of software or computing as a service rather than as a product. The software and the related resources are centrally hosted on servers and delivered via the Internet. The concept is not entirely new and organizations have been hosting business applications centrally for a long time. However with the advent of Internet the delivery got even simpler making it accessible to more people. Inherently this model offers a host of benefits to the consumers, which include cost benefits, easier scalability, latest software updates, reduced risk of data loss, sharing and collaboration.
This section will deal with enhancing your desktop with iGoogle and cloud based office applications like Google Calendar, Google Docs, the photo sharing and editing applications like Google Picasa and Google Picnik.
Section III – Social Networking: Online social networking has become a hit with most Internet users. People use these networks extensively to stay connected with their friends and family, share photos / web pages, chat and even find people with similar interests. There are many social networking services existing already but the services are still evolving each one vying to be the best and in turn have the maximum number of users.
The latest social networking offer from Google, Google Plus will be introduced in this chapter.
So, get ready to be immersed in the world of Google. Discover, at your own peril, how your life is about to be completely taken over by this simple word that has become a verb and has changed the world of the Internet and your computer experience through the years. Ever so subtly, Google has invaded your lives and your computer to such an extent that soon you may become totally dependent on the various tools, applications, gadgets and software that is helping you to organise your life at home and office or business and also providing easy answers to your daily problems in so many ways. How is this happening? This is what you will learn as you proceed through the various chapters, exploring the different ways in which Google can be used to make your life easier with its various products and features that are absolutely free and easily available to all.