Besides Microsoft, no other company has changed the way we use technology more than Google. The company started by two Stanford grad students has revolutionized the way we search for and interact with information. But we don't have you tell you that, besides the fact that the word Google is officially now a verb in the Merriam-Webster dictionary you probably just came from the actual Google site or one of their many web properties like YouTube or Picasa.
We know they're the illest in the game, but how good are they really? In our 2009 Style and Design issue, we looked at six our favorite Google innovations and graded them. Here we added four more to make it an even ten. Read on to see how your favorite Google offerings got marked.
HIT: After acquiring Blogger's parent company Pyra Labs in 1999, Google turned simple blog publishing software into the go-to service for most new bloggers. Its intuitive design and interface made it a hit among those just getting into the blogging game. Even today, with a number of other blogging services out there, it's still ranked among the most used.
MISS: As more and more blogging services came onto the market, they offered more sophisticated and customizable options than Google's Blogger. However, Google being Google has improved the software with every version. Also, lately, many bloggers have complained that Google breached their terms of service by deleting their content without consent.
GOOGLE AD SENSE (2003)(Link)
HIT: If you're a company that influences millions of people's online activity, why not bank off your efforts? That's exactly what Google did with their advertising software that has changed the web revenue game. Depending on your location and keywords, Google will service you with unobtrusive ads they think will interest you. Even if you don't click on any of 'em, best believe people make money using it.
MISS: You know those blogs you wander onto that are solely made to advertise a product? Yeah, you can thank Ad Sense for that. Assholes.
GOOGLE MAPS API (2005) (Link)
HIT: Maps was already better than Google's previous engine Mapquest (which also powered Yahoo! Maps) when it dropped, but Google's proprietary baby quickly eclipsed its rival with next-level mapping tools such as Google Street View. And the real bombshell landed later that year, when the Maps API (application program interface) dropped, allowed programmers to tweak Google Maps to suit their needs.
MISS: Besides the borderline intrusiveness of Google's Street View, it's the best mapping software EVER.
GOOGLE EARTH (2005)(Link)
HIT:You know how everyone talks about the global community becoming closer as a result of the internet? This is what they were talking about. Google's virtual globe, available in 37 languages, allows users to go anywhere in the world with the click of a mouse. Last summer, they even made it as a browser plug in so you can surf the globe from your iPhone.
MISS:Just like Google Maps, people complained that Google Earth could be used to invade the privacy of people due to its close proximity arial photography. They also came under fire for agreeing to blur out or omit property belonging to some special interest groups. Our main complaint would be the way the software taxes your system while running.
GOOGLE TALK (2005)(Link)
HIT: It may have been introduced in 2005, but Google Talk wasn't really poppin' until a year later when Google gave GMail chat functionality. And since almost everyone has a GMail account, we find it to be our alternate chat program after AOL's Instant Messenger. The fact that you instant message someone who isn't online and have them see it next time they check their mail or sign on, or leave them a MP3 voicemail that will be sent to their inbox is pretty dope.
MISS:When Google released their GTalk client, they, of course, neglected to create one for Mac OS X. Good thing iChat and Adium fully support it.
GOOGLE DOCS (2006)(Link)
HIT: In Google's quest to topple the mighty Microsoft, they acquired an online word processor and compiled it with their online spreadsheet program to create the best online office suite on the market. It's real strength lies in the availability of documents anywhere in the world and the ability for them to be edited by people remotely. It's so good, Microsoft announced that the next version of Office will incorporate a completely online version.
MISS:If it really wants to compete with Microsoft Office, it's going to need to beef up its offerings. Its simplicity is much appreciated, but when it comes time for some heavy lifting, Excel and Word still reign supreme. But, hey, for a free office suite, there ain't none higher.
GOOGLE ANDROID (2007) (Link)
HIT: Designed by T-Mobile Sidekick creator Andy Rubin, Google's foray into the mobile handset market was one of the most full-featured, desktop-like experiences on the market. Add to that their willingness to keep it open-source so anyone could customize it and you get the Linux to the iPhone's... Windows?
MISS: In the midst of all the geeking out, Google forgot to make the OS visually appealing to consumers. They also forgot that the software is only half the phone experience, and picked a handset that looks like it came out with the Motorola Razor.
GOOGLE GEARS (2007) (Link)
HIT: If and when you stop using Microsoft Office—and let's be real, that will happen—Google wants you to use Google Docs and GMail. Google Gears is a software that runs will allow you to use both (and any other Google app) without being connected to the Internet, further blurring the line between web apps and traditional local applications.
MISS: While we all love GMail and Google Docs, the big G is going to have to really step their web apps up if they want to compete with Microsoft Office.
GOOGLE HEALTH (2008) (Link)
HIT: You heard it from Obama: The medical industry needs a makeover, stat! The next step in updating the field will be to transfer medical records to electronic databases that users and doctors can easily and instantly access; Google's personal health record service does just that. After a successful beta run in Cleveland, the service has boldfaced partners like CVS and Walgreen already lined up.
MISS: There have been concerns regarding the privacy of the medical records, but Google insists it's as safe (or safer) than paper records. Call us when encryption is foolproof.
GOOGLE CHROME: (2008)(Link)
HIT: In yet another attempt to topple Microsoft, Google dropped their own browser; with its insanely fast Java engine and self-contained tabs, it was designed to a less stressful browsing experience (fewer crashes FTW!). It also arguably looked better than any other browsers on the market
MISS: Google must have not been paying attention to the rise in Mac usage over the years, as they failed to release a Mac OS X version of Chrome. FAIL.