A Swiss Army knife is a wonderful tool. When everything is folded away, it looks neat and simple, but when you inspect it closely you might find a magnifying glass, a USB memory card, a laser pointer, a flashlight, or a cigar cutter (no joke, visit the Victorinox and see for yourself).
Google is a lot like a Swiss Army knife. Its home page is spare and elegant, but there's a bunch of useful tools hidden from view at Google Labs, the company's ‘technology playground’. The public is welcome to try out these prototype services. A few of them are still in the early stages of development and are missing features you'd expect in a final, polished product, but the ‘Graduates of Labs’ are almost ready for prime time and quite useful.
- Google Transit – if you live in one of the three dozen or so cities listed at Google Transit, you can find out how to get from one place to another using public transportation.
- Google Trends – if you're curious to find out what the rest of the world is searching for, go to Google trends and type in your favorite keywords. Google will generate a graph showing how frequently other people have searched for the same term, over time.
- Google Suggest – this page looks just like the standard Google home page, but as you enter search terms, Google displays keyword suggestions that you can click on. If you're a slow typist or a poor speller, this can be a real time saver.
Google is constantly introducing new Labs experiments, so if you want to find out about the cool services before your friends do, be sure to visit every month or so.
Published on: Monday, March 28, 2011