My Life On Google
Apart from all of the publicity Google receives in terms of its "big brother" style method of taking over our lives, many people are unaware of the number of Google services that exist that can actually be beneficial, excellent productivity tools, and a great way to save money. Google hosts a mind-blowing number of online tools, called Web Applications," that are designed to allow users to make the most of their time online. Google has a wide range of products, from calendars to video sites, that almost everyone can find useful. If you don't have anything to hide from Google, then using the applications it provides is a great way to store your entire life online. Below, I will detail some of the services I use, as well as the way I have set them up, which has made me incredibly productive, task oriented, and organized.
1. Gmail - Gmail is Google's email program, and is one of the most widely used in the world. Everyone knows by now that Gmail offers an incredible amount of free storage (over 7GB), as well as an excellent system of labels and filters.
2. Google Calendar - I love Google Calendar's ease of use and availability almost anywhere. I can use the calendar online to make major schedule changes, as well as on my phone to create new events, etc. Calendar also has excellent reminder features that can text my phone a reminder minutes, hours, or days before it is due.
3. Google Tasks - This application serves as a great link between the first two apps. It isn't the most full-featured task manager on the web, but it integrates well with Gmail, and users can add an email to a task quite easily. Also, it behaves as a calendar in Google Calendar, overlaying the tasks that are due on their respective due dates.
4. Google Docs - While this won't get you as far as Microsoft Office, Google Docs is an excellent online document, spreadsheet, and slideshow editor that is gaining features all the time. I love the ability to access my documents at any time, without carrying around thumb drives.
5. Google Voice - This app isn't available to everyone yet (read about how to get invites here), but I absolutely love its ability to manage my entire phone-life in a Gmail-style interface. The customizable options are almost limitless, and I also love being able to text from the internet.
6. Google Reader - I don't use this everyday, but I do use it to catch up on some reading during my free time. It is easy to use as well.
7. Google Contacts - This application is part of Gmail and Google Voice, but I love the ability to have my address book continually updated, online for easy access. It has groups, which makes sending messages to several people easy.
8. iGoogle - iGoogle is how I connect everything into a sort of "desktop on the web." My iGoogle page contains widgets for all of the apps listed above, plus a few others such as the weather and a clock. It's a beautiful, customizable interface that gives easy access to all of my Google Products.
What's left? I haven't mentioned several other Google services such as Health and Wave because I don't use them. However, if anyone else does, be sure to tell us how you use them in the comments.