Over the years, Google has evolved from a search engine into a huge part of the Internet’s Cloud. However, are the size and power Google have gained as a company a good thing or not, and are people aware of Google’s full potential?
In the past I would avoid many of Google’s extra services, using only the basic search engine. Examining my reasons, I realised that I didn’t want to feed the beast the Google was becoming. As I became aware of the vastness of the Internet (please bear in mind I was only 12 when I started using the Internet in 2000), I realised that as one person I could not make a difference. Eventually I decided “If you can’t beat them, join them”.
The first non-search service I used from Google was Gmail , to which I received an invite from the wonderful artist Sarah Ellerton back in September 2004. Previously, I had only used Hotmail for my emails (back then I didn’t realise Microsoft owned Hotmail). I instantly realised Gmail was a league above the rest, and that perhaps Google’s other services weren’t such a bad thing.
I still find some of Google’s “extra” services are quite hidden within Google’s menus, so here is a list of the services I find useful and encourage you to try:
One of the things I’ve really learned to love about Google is that so many different services are available with only one set of log in details. I believe that this is what attracts many people to Google’s products; it certainly paved the way for my interest in using more of their services than I may have otherwise.
Another useful feature Google provides is storage of various data online. I use different computers a fair amount and lately I’ve found Google an invaluable tool for accessing data regardless of which machine I’m working on. Google services such as Google Docs, Gmail, Google Bookmarks and Google Calendar allow for the storage of important data online, accessible 24/7 worldwide. I did in fact write the draft of this article directly to Google Docs, in case I wanted to work on it while using a different computer.
However, we have to also consider that these services provided by Google do have some downsides.
From a business perspective, Google looks to become a new monopoly, perhaps even rivaling Microsoft for some things. Google Docs provides an easy to use free word processor which doesn’t even require a download. These points mean Google Docs could rival Microsoft Word for the more casual users. That will of course depend on how Microsoft further develop Microsoft Office Live. So far you can store and share your Office documents, but you require Office to be installed to edit your files. However, it appears you do not need to download your files to edit them, you just need to be rich enough to have MS Office installed on every computer you use. Perhaps they will develop this further and provide an online version of MS Office using Microsoft Azure as a platform, offering an online licence for use of the service. I would certainly be tempted by that.
But let’s be honest, nobody really cares if Google take business from Microsoft. I certainly trust Google far more than I trust Microsoft, especially when it comes to the storage of my data, but that’s another article in itself.
From an individual’s point of view, or perhaps even a business point of view, using Google to store data online may not be as wonderful as it seems at first glance.
Although Google provide a reliable and secure service, your documents are protected only by the fact people do not know your password. A password is only as secure as the person who created it. One thing that has stuck in my mind from university is that most computer errors and security risks come from the users. If you have a weak password or write your password down somewhere, all that information you have stored online will be easily available to anyone who finds their way into your Google account. What’s more, because Google’s tools are useful when using different computers, the chances are people will use these services while on a public computer and forget to sign out.
For now, I have to conclude that Google’s services are a good thing, a very good thing in fact. Google provide useful and at times invaluable services, and what’s more those services are mostly free. What the future holds for Google no one can know for sure (although some people try to speculate). One thing is for sure, Google aren’t going anywhere any time soon, and they will only get bigger.
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