Ok Google! I love you.. And this is why..
I am an ardent fan of Google and I have my own reasons on why I love Google so much. I am going to use this article to explain how I have evolved along with Google over the years and how it has helped me over time and how I believe it will help me in the future.
Me and Google go way back in time. I still remember the first time I used the initial version of Google and a lot has changed since then. Google has ventured not only into search but also into lot of other areas which are of my interest.
Note: I have used all the products which I am talking about here and its all based on my experience with the same.
I would be million times poorer with my knowledge if not for Google Search. While this may seem obvious for all of you, there are lot of ways in which I use search. Maybe you do too. Being the user and developer that I am, I use it to find solutions to my problems, converting currencies, time, use calculator, read articles on things that I love, get the images and icons that I want for the things that I work on, read news when I feel the need to be updated on something, and if I want to find any good alternatives to the libraries, frameworks, tools and tech stack that I use, it helps me on that as well. I cannot stress on how important it is to know how to make use of Google Search to be a Good and productive developer.
Android & Android Developer Tools
What would I do without my Android phone? I am kind of not sure.
I am not someone who spends a lot of time on Whatsapp, mobile games or other social networks. Most of the time spent with my phone is in reading Tech Articles which gets delivered to me via Google Now (they have now made the design pathetic, it used to be good) , being updated with email communications, developing apps at work, taking pics when I need to, and mostly browsing for stuff which is of my interest.
I can find most of the apps which I am looking for in the Play Store, and it makes my job so easy. I listen to music when I travel, use lot of apps like Google Maps extensively and its a heaven for me.
The developer tools which they provide are also amazing. Works in Linux, integrated with Chrome, supports a lot of devices, the emulator used to be very slow to launch and work with earlier but in io18, they have solved that problem as well with quick snapshots. So, I love Android very much.
While I tried Yahoo mail during the initial days, I did not love it as much as how I love Gmail. Almost all my social networking and other online accounts are linked to my Gmail/Google account and it helps me a lot. Infact, the best things I love about Gmail are its search and its insanely powerful SPAM filtering. I used to go to the SPAM folder to make sure it had not listed any important mail as SPAM earlier but I was never able to find any such case where the mails in the SPAM folder were not actually SPAM and over time, I just ignored those mails saving a lot of time. Also, the classifications between Primary, Updates, Social and Promotional mails are helping me a lot in making things easy for me.
What will I do without Youtube? I am really not sure. Its my primary source of entertainment. I use Youtube not only for watching random videos, but its my major source of online music. You can find my playlist at https://youtube.com/tvvignesh where I maintain a lot of playlists of the songs that I love and listen to every day. In addition to this, I have learnt a whole lot of stuff from just Youtube through tutorials provided by various people on the topics that I love. I even used to stream some of my own tutorials to youtube along with the Game streams which I used to do. It does not stop there. I watch a lot of Tech Conferences including the latest Google I/O 2018 at Youtube and it is insanely useful for people like me who cannot afford to travel to attend conferences. I also love reading the youtube comments in case I am too out of work. I wish they could allow background playing in Android since I am currently using some hacks to get it working.
Should I even say anything about Maps? My god, the most amazing innovation which helps me hell a lot to navigate around, tells me the ETA to get myself prepared, gives me the routes, details regarding public transport facilities, shows places nearby, provides reviews on various locations and takes care of my journey end to end.
I fell in love with Chrome the first time it got released and I am a regular and daily user of Chrome using it over 12 hours a day in both my Laptop and Mobile device for doing all the stuff which I need to do. The best things I love about chrome is its design, sync capabilities, speed and most importantly the CHROME DEV TOOLS without which I would be totally stuck with my development workflow inspecting elements, doing performance tests, going through network requests/response, browsing the local storage, manipulating the DOM, styles, colors and what not. It also helps in debugging mobile apps, Node.js apps and is also handy when you want to test your apps across various resolutions and network speeds. And it does what every browser should do. Maintain security, allow bookmarks, provide extensions (I use Adblock, Pushbullet, Webdeveloper, Vysor, Medium to Markdown, etc.) to get stuff done.
I have pretty much all of my important personal files stored in Google Drive and it helps me a lot when I need something real quick even when I don’t have access to my PC. It also acts like a backup for all the important documents which I have and helps me collaborate when I have the need with all the people around.
Very handy way to keep and organize all your photos in one place. And with the announcement of Unlimited Photo storage in the cloud, things are looking great. Even the sync feature is very good keeping all my pics safe in the cloud. It doesn’t stop there. With the combination of Google Lens, Google Photos and ML Kit, things get powerful since it helps you not only to take pictures but to manipulate it the way you like. In the io18, you would have seen the way Google Photos now provides intelligent suggestions to get your photo fixed or even to the end of sharing the pic with your friends by identifying the person on the pics.
Google Keep & Tasks
I use both of them a lot in addition to Trello to keep my activity organized on a day to day basis. Its insanely handy and helps me a lot to stay focused on the task at hand and work towards that. I use Trello for long term activities while I use Google Keep & tasks for day to day activities.
Whenever I had needed people to fill something up like surveys and polls, I always turn towards Google Forms to do the job for me. It seriously does what it is supposed to do and nowadays, it has also become intelligent, predicting the type of answer you would expect as soon as you type in a question saving time for you having to select the type of answer you require. It also provides good summarized responses in a spreadsheet via Google Sheets which is amazing for people to look at.
Google News and Google Now are the source of daily news digest for me delivering all the news I am looking for straight to my device. Also, with io18, Google has announced how they are partnering up with publishers, analyzing relevant and related content across the web and providing us with a variety of options including subscribing to premium content, following and rating what you like, and discussing the news with others.
Very very useful for a person like me who likes to switch phones whenever something new and interesting comes up once in 2 or 3 years. Keeps all my contacts in sync with Google so that I can get it back whenever and wherever I want. I also find the search powerful. The only thing I always have a problem with is that sometimes, I end up with duplicate contacts. Even though it gives option to merge/link contacts, when I search duplicates still appear. But, that has not been a huge issue for me since it does the job for me.
Love the things it offer even though I don’t use this much since most of my calendar is based out of Outlook/Office365 but when I use Google Calendar, it does not ever let me down. Infact, when I book movie tickets, and a confirmation of the booking comes to my mail, it automatically takes care of creating a calendar entry for the movie date and time and reminds me well before the time of the movie along with routes to my destination via Maps. Love the way they make work easy without me having to even create a calendar entry.
Google Assistant & Home
While I don’t use it too much since I am more comfortable with apps — I like to tap on stuff rather than speak or type in, I use it whenever I need to set things like Reminder and it does the job pretty good. I had also tried Amazon Alexa in addition to Google Home and while I found Alexa more accurate with its response and voice recognition, I am optimistic about Google Home due to the infrastructure and ecosystem it can provide for users.
I had used it a lot of times in the websites I create to get good amount of insights on the traffic I used to get and it is very much actionable since you can drill down into insights on each and every activity if you had configured it right. You can see where a user came in, where a user spent most of his/her time, and where and when he/she left making it very easy to improve on designs where needed.
Material Design by Google
When I develop apps & websites and I had always wanted design guides, resources and tools to make my job easy since I pretty much would not have the time and resource to spend on researching the best ways to UI & UX and wanted to concentrate on the logic or my use case but the job was made very easy for all of us by the amazing designers at Google providing comprehensive design guides, tools, and even libraries to incorporate Material design onto our apps. I am in love with Material design which includes Android’s redesign to incorporate material design into the entire ecosystem. Angular Material, Polymer, Components from Material.io all implement the design principles making the job very easy for me. In addition to that they also provide free Material icons, and with io18, a Gallery for designers to collaborate helping with the workflow end to end.
While React, Angular, Vue and other frameworks have brought in component based development now, its not based on the platform based standards and rather a full blown framework with their own custom syntax while Polymer does a great job at keeping itself lightweight and doing just one thing which it is meant to do. Act as sugar on top of the existing web platform to make it usable for everyone everywhere and most importantly keeping it modular in the form of components. The other thing I like is incorporation of Material Design with the help of paper elements which they provide avoiding the need for any specific library to do that for me. They just brought out Polymer 3.0 migrating completely to ES modules with a react-like syntax and I am going to put my hands on it soon.
While I have not used Angular 2, I have worked a lot on AngularJS 1.x and it can be definitely said that while Angular 1.x may be bulky and not so performant, the team from Google definitely thinks a lot about production grade frameworks well ahead of time. Lot of enterprises still use AngularJS as a part of their product portfolio and it has been working good for them.
The quality of calls you get in Duo is really good when compared to other calling apps. It does have some problems which does not seem surprising considering its age but still it manages to do justice to provide good quality calling.
While I have needed to use it only few times, it comes packed with a lot of languages for us to explore and helps us when we need to understand or converse with someone from a diverse background.
While this is no more a Google Product since its donated to Cloud Native Foundation, Google still needs to be given credit for the work it is putting behind the scenes to make Kubernetes so flexible and production grade from the start. It has kind of become the de-facto standard for orchestration while other orchestration tools and frameworks still exist.
With the advent of chat bots and conversations, a platform like this is very handy and important to the tech stack. It seamlessly plugs into Google Assistant as well and helps you design conversations, intents and entities all in one place. While I had preferred Wit.ai initially since it launched first and had committed to always being free, Api.ai does not fail to impress as well.
I am just starting off with Tensorflow. But, see the impact it has already made in the community and the number of projects in which it has been already used in production. An example is Waymo. We witnessed how they are solving real world automotive problems with Tensorflow collaborating with Google brain team. Its just mind blowing.
When there were big players like AWS & Azure in the market, Google did not fail to make its mark through its cloud offerings. It is cheaper and with the infrastructure powerhouse which they have (we just saw the announcement of Cloud TPU 3.0 to power AI solutions in cloud), its a cakewalk for them to offer the same as a service to all the people. This has led to a healthy competition between all the providers leading to reduction in price of the offerings.
Firebase also needs a shout out here since they are also providing lots of services like push notifications, authentication, cloud db, etc. all at an affordable price for people to use.
So, what else?
There are a lot of other things Google has in store eg: Flutter, Hangouts, Inbox, Google Earth, etc. and you can find the full list at https://www.google.co.in/about/products/
But it does fail to catch attention for some of its products of which some of the most notable ones are Google+ , Allo, Play Music, etc. which I don’t feel is much of a use for people considering there are already established products which does the same job which Google aims to do.
But, still Google is Google. It holds its head held high and we do see some interesting innovation like Google Duplex and ML Toolkit on the way for us to use.
I would like to conclude saying to Google that:
“Keep doing what you are doing, do more and Don’t be Evil”
We are always there for you.
See you all with my next article. Follow me/my publication to get notified of future articles I write and let me know if you want me to write about something of your interest.