How Google Apps Can Change Your Life
Google might be king of the internet, but they’re also rapidly becoming the king of mobile apps as well. With Google apps you can kit out your phone to be the ultimate productivity machine. But why choose Google? Because the great thing about getting all your productivity apps from Google is that they are all compatible with each other, meaning one app can send info to another. Not only that, but should you (God forbid) leave your phone at home, all your apps can also be accessed online, meaning you don’t have any excuse to forget your shopping list. Now we’re not saying that you’ll never need to download another app again, but we are saying that Google apps can make a significant difference to how you live your life and how you use your phone. Ready to get started? Then check out the apps below.
Okay, let’s start with the obvious. Gmail was Google’s first real app, and it handles all your email needs. From a simple filing system that allows you to automatically send mail to different folders (and handily mark them in different colours) to excellent anti-spam filters, you can’t go wrong with Gmail. Plus, nearly everyone has a Gmail account these days, making this app a no-brainer to download.
And again, a pretty obvious choice, and one that comes as a default on most phones these days, but it still needs to be listed. Google Maps are the most accurate navigation system around, and there are a ton of different features. You can view your map in different ways, depending on what you need to see, from traffic snarls to cycle paths, everything you’ll need to know about your trip can be shown. Driving directions (or public transport directions) are no problem either. Why wouldn’t you use Google Maps? (Bonus Google Maps tip: “drop a pin” when you park your car, and you’ll never look for it in the car park again!).
Okay, okay, this is the last of the obvious choices, we promise. Why download Google Chrome when your phone probably already has a default internet button? Because of connectivity. As long as you’re logged in to your Google account, Google Chrome on your phone will remember all the bookmarks and favourites that you have on your web browser, as well as highlighting searches that you’ve already made and web pages that you’ve already read. Neat, huh?
This is a relatively new offering from Google, and it’s a stunningly simple little app. Basically, Google Keep is a collection of electronic post-it notes. You can simply add little notes, lists (complete with check boxes for when you’ve accomplished something), and even pictures, all of which will be stuck up on a little noticeboard. Tap a note to view it large screen, and swipe it to delete it. For those of us that have problems remembering everything, Google Keep is a simple and elegant solution (and means that you don’t need to keep tons of slips of paper in your wallet).
Calendar apps are ten a penny these days, and in general one kind of calendar is very much like another. You want to note down appointments and be reminded of them, right? Google Calendar does everything you’d expect, but it’s also got a nice little compatibility extra thrown in. This means that you can set up different calendars (say a business one and a personal one) and view them either separately or together. You can mark different kinds of events in different colours (birthdays in red and meetings in blue, maybe). You can also choose what kind of reminders you want (emails, alarms), and you can share calendars too. If you’re working on a project with someone, simply add them to the calendar you set up for the project and both of you can see it. Calendar apps might be much of a muchness, but Google Calendar lets you do much, much more than most regular apps.
If you’re storing your files (whether that’s documents, music or videos) online, then the Google Drive app for your phone will let you access all of that data from your mobile. You might not think this is terribly necessary, but it can be a life saver when you’ve forgotten that important presentation at home. Plus, it lets you save your valuable phone memory for other things (like packing in more games).
Google Play Music
Real music lovers, however, will want to download Play Music. This lets you upload all your music files onto your Google account and then access them online through the app. Simple enough, but there are plenty of features on this music player. You can also use it as an online music store, buying and downloading new music through your Google account.
Google Now is the newest Google online offering, and it’s a tough one to describe. Essentially it’s a system of notification cards that appear on your home screen once you set the widget to your default page. These notifications are everything from how long it will take you to get home from work, to traffic and weather reports for your location, restaurants and places of interest around you, and even the latest scores for your favourite sports team. Google Now will also grab info from your Calendar and Gmail programmes, and give you notifications about upcoming events and things like parcel tracking for online orders.
It also has an excellent voice recognition programme that will allow you to use most functions on your phone (even outside of Google Now) without lifting a finger. We’ll be honest here, it does take a while to set up and you’ll need to input plenty of info to get started, as well as allowing the app access to all your web searches, email boxes and location services, but the more you use your phone (and the more you use other Google services, even on your PC), the more the app will learn about your habits, so notifications will become more personalised.
Just to be clear: we’re not being paid by Google! But if you’re looking for great productivity and scheduling apps that are all compatible with online use without your phone as well as being compatible with each other, then Google have really got you covered. All these apps are free, and they’re all intuitive and simple to use too, and you can’t ask more than that.