The Best Google Tools Launched in 2009

Google is best known for its mighty search engine, but Google’s reach goes far beyond that. Google has its hands in nearly every aspect of the online world. In the past several years Google has launched Gmail, an email service; Chrome, it’s own web browser; Maps, a mapping service; and dozens of applications and software services such as Alerts, Docs, Sketch-Up, Picasa, and many, many more. Here are some of the best from 2009.

Google Squared
Launched in June of 2009, Google Squared presents your word search in a spreadsheet type grid. Unlike its search engine, it does not provide links to web pages on the topic, however. Instead, Google Squared retrieves and organizes the data you’re in need of, and allows you to build, modify, and refine the spreadsheet “square” through further web searches. Google said: “It essentially searches the Web to find the types of facts you might be interested in, extracts them and presents them in a meaningful way.”

Gmail Tasks
This easy to use Gmail function allows you to keep track of your To-Do List. To use on your computer, simply enter Gmail, click Tasks on the left hand side bar and enter your tasks. The tasks automatically show up on your calendar, which can be found on the top toolbar in Gmail. To modify your tasks, use the actions toolbar. Gmail Tasks can also be used on your mobile browser, and an iGoogle widget is available for your homepage. Gmail Tasks was launched in July.

My Tracks
Designed for Android phones, My Tracks is a free download that enables users to record where they’ve been (their “tracks”), display their tracks on a map, and share their tracks via online services. The map shows elevation, time, speed, distance, and other live statistics. Way points and positions are shown on Google Maps, either in map mode or satellite mode, and track data can be also be uploaded and shared on Google Maps. Requires internet connection.

Introduced in September, Google Sidewiki is a free browser plug-in toolbar that installs alongside the Google Toolbar. It shows users comments about any page on the internet, and allows any user to publish their own comments about a web page or topic. Sidewiki entries can be shared on Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, and other social media sites.

Sky Map
Use your Android phone to find planets, constellations, stars, and other celestial objects. Just point your phone at the night sky, and Sky Map will use your phone’s GPS, accelerometer, and compass to produce a Star Map based on your location. In manual mode, you can search for constellations by flicking through space or searching the database. To find what you’re looking for in the night sky, Sky Map’s arrow system will guide you. Click the link above to watch a video about Sky Map.

Fast Flip
Part of Google Labs, Fast Flip is based on a magazine’s presentation of content. Users can “flip” through pages to find stories, click on the page, and be taken directly to the publisher’s website. Content is grouped by categories so it’s easy to find, and topics are generated automatically by stories coming online. Readers can vote on articles, and if an article receives enough votes, it will be added to the Recommended section. Fast Flip users can also use their Google account to see which stories their contacts like, and to personalize their content. Currently, Fast Flip works on the iPhone and Android mobile devices as well as your PC.

Look forward to Google Wave, a real-time collaboration and communication tool.