Google has quite literally changed our lives. I come from the days when encyclopedias and the library were goldmines of information. Needless to say there were many queries of copied assignments and inauthentic speeches. There was a time when finding places meant tracing your route with the help of a map book – while driving I might add. There were more lost days than found ones.

Fast-forward to 2019 and you have every bit of information you could possibly imagine at the tip of your fingers, or activated at the sound of your voice. We are living in the age of information – quick, accurate information.

The world is not separated by seas or mountains anymore, we are closer than we think. Google Africa recently hosted an event at the V&A Waterfront to showcase its life-changing apps. It was a maze of fun, clues, questions and tasks that had to be completed using Google Apps.

At the end of the event, I could clearly see how inefficiently I have been using Google. Here are some highlights of the apps that are bound to make your life a whole lot easier, and way more fun.

Google Maps

Assisting you in the real world

The information across Google Search and Maps helps millions of people every day to discover and share great places. Google’s  goal is to help people get out and enjoy the world by building a map tailored to each user and their likes and preferences.

Discovery and Exploration

– Google Maps has always helped users get where they need to go as quickly as possible, but now they can also use Maps to find things to do and places to eat based on their own unique tastes and preferences. Now, users can:

– Find new things to do and see dining, event, and activity options based on their location in the newly redesigned Explore tab.

– Know where the tastemakers are going. Trending lists with information from local experts, Google, and trusted publishers help users know exactly where to go in their neighbourhood based on what’s popular right now.

– Easily make plans as a group. Users can create a shareable shortlist within Google Maps and instantly share it with friends across any platform so they can vote on a place and decide where to go within minutes.

– Find places nearby, fast. Google Maps automatically shows you places of interest in your immediate vicinity. Type in “child-friendly near me” and it’ll narrow it down to places that are listed as child-friendly and are really close by. If you’re after a restaurant, just add that to your query – and there you go, a short-list of child-friendly eateries near you (zoom in and out to change how “near” that “near me” is).

– Stay on top of the latest and greatest with the new “For you” tab. Users can see trending places, newly opened restaurants, foodie lists, and more in the neighbourhoods they care about most.

– Contribute to Local Guides. Users can help to make Google Maps more useful to them and people like them through contributing reviews, photos and feedback on the places they go to in the Google Maps app.

– Google Maps strives to provide people with accurate, useful and actionable info about the world around them. This includes not only showing them all available travel options, but allowing them to book a ride, reserve a table, see how busy a place is or how long the wait is, book a fitness class or beauty treatment, order delivery, and more.

Google Photos

Google Photos is the home for all your photos and videos

– Google Photos was built from the ground up in 2015 and is centered around three big ideas – all with the aim of taking the work out of photo management and doing it for you.

– First, it’s a single place to safely keep a lifetime of memories, available from any device. This means original or unlimited high quality storage plans for all your photos and videos and features like Free Up Space that help you remove images that are saved to the cloud from your device.

– Second, it’s all your moments, organised and brought to life. We let you focus on making memories, not managing them. You can search your photos by the people, places, and things in them and receive fun new creations – like collages or GIF animations – that we automatically create based on your photo library.

Third, Google Photos is a better way to share and save what matters. Sharing should be simple and reliable, and when you’re on the receiving end, it should be easy to hold on to the photos you care about. With Photos you can share photos by simply choosing from your contacts – or even by getting a suggestion to share – via SMS, email or via Google Photos.

Google Lens

Google Lens helps you to do more with what you see

Google Lens has been helping people to find out more about the world around them through their camera and photos – whether it is learning about landmarks or identifying that cute dog in the park – since its launch in late 2017. In October 2018, Google rolled out Lens to Google Images.

– Like Lens in Google Assistant and Google Photos, Lens in Google Images identifies things in an image you might want to learn more about and shows you similar ones. When you select the Lens button in Google Images, dots will appear on objects you can learn more about.

– Lens in Google Images can also make it easier to find and buy things you like online. For example, you might come to Google Images looking for ideas to redecorate your living room. During your search, you come across a couch you like in an image, but you may not know what style it is or where to buy it. All you need to do is press the Lens button, then either tap on a dot on the couch, or draw around it, and Google Images will show you related information and images. From there, you can learn more about it, or find places where you might be able to buy a similar couch.

– Lens in Google Images also helps website owners by giving them a new way to be discovered through a visual search, similar to a traditional Google Search. To start, the dots will appear on products and other objects Lens has identified, and in the coming months the dots will appear in more types of images, such as landmarks, animals and plants. You can still draw around anything you’re interested in inside of an image to get more information and see related content.

Google Search (Google App)

Be in the know

The Google App keeps you in the know about the things you care about. Find quick answers, explore your interests, and get a feed of updates on what matters to you. The more you use the Google app, the better it gets.

– Discover keeps you up to date on all your favourite topics – follow everything from forex markets to your favourite sports teams and celebs, plus you can dive deeper into any of your interests with a single click.

– Collections lets you add links, images, search results to curated collections so you can quickly find them later.

– Explore is where you make the Google app your own and tailor it with your preferences and the services you want to see – whether it’s appointment reminders, traffic alerts, suggestions for places to go on your next trip. The more you use the app, the better is understands you and becomes more useful to you.

Picture: Supplied

Article written by

Nidha Narrandes

Nidha Narrandes is a food-obsessed travel addict with 21 years of journalism experience. Her motto - Travel. Eat. Repeat. She is happiest on a road to nowhere without a plan. A masterchef at home, she can't do without chilli - because chilli makes the world a tastier place.