5 cool and handy apps from Google you didn’t know you needed

The company that changed our access to information keeps enhancing how we use it 

Google apps
Google Translate, Keep and Trips are just a few of the free tools from Google that can come in handy in all kinds of places.

There’s a reason Google is the second-most valuable brand in the world – one apple-bite-sized step behind you-know-who. They keep coming up with cool – and seriously useful – tech tricks that keep the company relevant and impossible to forget. These are things easy enough for almost anyone to get the hang of, and practical enough to keep people gravitating to them.

Not only does Google have that little search engine that slayed the once-revered encyclopedia, it’s also brought us Google Maps, Google Earth, the Chrome browser, Gmail and Google Docs. And those are just the most well-known of its products and services.

With all Google does, it’s hard to keep tabs on what’s available – much less understand how it can help you. So let’s take a look at some of the latest apps, and you can decide whether they’re a fit. (Note: It’s best to have a Google account to use these. Get one here.)

Once upon a time in the not-so-distant past, language barriers and paper maps made travel was an often-daunting prospect. Those days are happily history, thanks to apps like these two:

Google TranslateWith this app, you can translate 100-plus languages to varying degrees. For many of them, that includes conversations, street signs, texts and handwriting, with options to save and reuse common phrases or vital questions like, “Where’s the nearest bathroom?” There’s even an offline option – definitely handy when your travels take you to those really interesting, but typically off-the-beaten path sites. Google Translate also works in the browser to translate entire sites or just chunks of text.

Google Trips – This mobile trip planner app launched in 2016. It started with day guides to 200 cities around the world, and has since beefed up that list.

How’s it help? By breaking down the trip into easy-to-access categories including Reservations, Things to Do, Saved Places, Day Plans, Food & Drink and Getting Around. So instead of going to the United app for flight info, the Yelp app for restaurant reviews, and doing a search for the nearest dockless bicycle rental, it’s all in one app. It saves not just time and mental gymnastics, but data.

Get it wherever you get your apps. To use it, you’ve got to have a Google account – which gives you access to things like Gmail, Google Hangouts and Blogger.

Chrome Remote Desktop – You no longer have to be a tech guru to tap your computer or smart phone into a remote device. As long as you’ve installed this app on your computer or device, and the device you want to access gives permission, it takes just a few simple steps to gain remote access, which means you can do cool things like share desktops to collaborate work or tap into your work computer when you’re off-site. It works across different operating systems, even when the host computer is logged off. The Chrome Remote Desktop can be a lifesaver if you’re on deadline and away from critical work files. Get details here.

Google Finance – This info-packed site tracks world and U.S. corporate news and stock information, with space to add your own favorite stocks to a watch list of the latest news. You can choose from a market summary or break the info down into local markets or personal stocks. It’s also a good starting point for new investors to research and discover investment strategies. Not unlike Google Trips, it’s a lot of information in one easy place that can be personalized just for you. If you’re ready to dive in to the intricacies of finance, take a look.

Google Keep – If you’re the queen of sticky notes or have forgotten more great ideas than you’ve managed to retain, Google Keep Notes might just be your savior. This app lets you not only quickly record your thoughts by voice or in writing, but sync them to your other devices, your calendar, a co-worker or friend. It’s great not only for work-related brainstorms, but honey-do lists and scheduling – especially since you can set event reminders by time and even place (so a reminder can automatically pop up when you get to work). Unlike an online note pad, you can categorize and color code your notes to keep things like work and play or fun and chores separate. And when you no longer need the note, it lets you either delete or archive it. Get it now – before you forget.

Google may take some heat for getting too big for its cyber britches, but there’s no doubt the company offers a lot of handy tools that cost little to nothing. You can read about all their stuff here.

Jane Reuter
About Jane Reuter 66 Articles
Jane Reuter writes from the heart. Having spent years as a newspaper journalist, she knows a well-written story is never forgotten. It’s personal. It connects. It makes an impact. As a Viasat content specialist, Jane seeks to take her readers on a journey, making her stories interactive, personal and engaging.