10 Google Apps For College Students

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By now, you know that Google rules the world. Or at least it sometimes seems that way.

Google Buzz

college studentLast week, Google Buzz was launched, an alternative of sorts to Facebook and Twitter. Immediately following that move, Google announced that they had purchased Aardvark, a social search firm. Aardvark is set up to allow users to send in a question and it does its best to answer them in a plain language. Kind of like your Answerbag or Yahoo Answers site, but with a quicker response time.

Since it launched in September 1998 Google has operated under an important mantra, but it isn’t its “do no evil” model. Instead, Google’s philosophy seems to be more in line with the saying, “if you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em.”

Big G

The Google Empire has certainly been on a never ending expansion quest, gobbling up smaller firms while occasionally rolling out an in-house project. Even when something is launched within the Great Google, the company seems to borrow many of its ideas from the companies it has absorbed, kind of like a slow moving blob that consumes everything in its way.

What sort of Google applications (apps) do most college students use? That’s hard to say, because there are plenty of paid and open source programs available, but likely you or some of your classmates have used most of the following:

1. Google Chrome – Forget Internet Explorer and unless you use a Mac, you’re likely to prefer Firefox or Opera as your web browser. Google Chrome has been making some in-roads, with secret browsing and fast loading of web pages among its shining features.

2. Google Docs – Admittedly, I rarely use Google Docs having ditched Microsoft Word in favor of Open Office. Still, if you want a simple word processing app and you need to share your documents with others, Google Docs is wonderful.

3. Google Reader – If you have a lot of blogs to follow and you don’t want to jump all over the place to find them, then Google Reader can help you keep them all together.

4. Google Scholar – You know that dreaded term paper you’ve been putting off? Well, there is no excuse to ignore it any longer. Google Scholar “collects” scholarly papers including articles, patents, journals, and legal opinions, and puts them in one place. Need to find some amazing sources? You just might come across what you need here without having to look elsewhere.

5. Knol – Wikipedia is so, well, vulnerable. Unlike Wikipedia, if you have an article you want to share, you can either collaborate with other writers or let your article stand “as is.” Like Wikipedia, although you won’t cite Knol, you can sometimes find references to other works that can be cited.

6. Blogger – Sometimes known as Blogspot, Blogger is one of the oldest and most well known blogging platform systems available. If you don’t want to mess with a complicated content management system such as WordPress, you can use Blogger which is free.

7. Google Books – Once known as Google Book Search and Google Print, Google Books contains millions of books that have been scanned and stored into the Big G’s database. Public domain and out of print books are down-loadable in PDF form, perhaps proving a good way for you to locate that hard to find out of print title.

8. Picasa – Facebook may have killed off the “need” for Picasa as everyone, and I mean everyone, is posting all sorts of stuff over there. Still, if you prefer to do more with your photos such as creating a slide show or movie, then Picasa offers far more than file uploading.

9. Gmail – Need free mail with a lot of functions and storage capacity? Tag your saved emails to find them easier, enjoy a robust anti-spam platform, and chat in between emails. Why go with Hotmail or Yahoo Mail?

10. Google Translate – You can change the settings on your Google toolbar (Options > Tools > Check Translate) or go to the site itself in order to translate pages from one language to another one. Comes in very handy when you need to communicate with someone whose tongue is different from your own.

Are there more Google apps worth exploring? Absolutely. I didn’t even touch on Google’s suite of mobile applications, but they’re out there for your review. Plus, there are many companies owned by Google who bring their own good stuff to the table. I’ll mention those in a future article.

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Categories: Technology