Search, Maps, and Gmail might be the most popular Google apps, but their developers are doing more cool things. Have you checked out the latest cool made-by-Google creations?
At some point, many of Google’s most popular apps were just a quick idea that was roughly put together by an engineer. But then it proved to be useful for others, more people adopted it, and after a while, it was one of those services you can’t live without anymore. Who knows, one of these five recent creations from Google’s labs might be the next big thing.
1. Threadit (Chrome, Web): Video Chat Stories for Updates Between Remote Teams
Threadit is an app for remote working, designed while working remotely by the developers at Google’s Area 120, a workshop for experimental products. It’s a video chat app to update your team members in short bursts.
It’s a bit like creating Twitter or Instagram Stories for work. Create an account, invite others, and start sharing short video updates. It’s not a real-time chat, so you can watch others’ videos and reply through your own videos at a time convenient for you.
Threadit offers a few templates like a daily stand-up meeting, project updates, troubleshooting, Q&A, code debugging, catch-up, birthdays, farewells, and more. For example, the stand-up meeting will ask you to record short videos for an announcement, then a kickoff, and then your own update. Participants can add or delete topics to the list, share their screen, and switch off video to use audio-only updates too.
We’ve seen a few other innovative team video chat apps that incorporate this feature. The simplicity of Threadit and the fact that it’s embedded into Chrome makes it a great tool for remote workers to collaborate easily. You can also use it as a standalone web app without installing the extension.
Download: Threadit for Chrome (Free)
2. Keen (Web, Android): Pinterest Alternative With Machine-Learning Recommendations
Keen is Google’s attempt at making a social bookmarking alternative to Pinterest. It’s the same idea of creating collections and adding links to them, all in a beautiful interface. What sets it apart is a dose of machine-learning, that leans on Google’s search results to give you recommendations.
Here’s how it works. For each collection or “Keen” you make, you can add a few search terms. The app itself will suggest a few based on the topic name, which updates as you add more links to your collection. The app learns from your choices and gives you better recommendations about things you might be interested in, slowly building your collection as it gets to know you. So instead of relying on links shared by other users, it’s the technology that is doing the heavy lifting.
Keen includes a social component as well, as you can share your Keens or make them public for anyone to see. You can also browse public Keens shared by others as a collection of readymade links based on the topic. While there isn’t an iOS app yet, the Keen web app works well in any mobile browser.
Download: Keen for Android (Free)
3. Stack (Android): Document Scanner With Text Recognition, Cloud Backup, and AI
Stack by Google is a document scanning app with a few extra worthwhile features. The main scanning part works like any other document scanner you’ve used. Use the camera to take a photo of a paper after aligning it as per the on-screen instructions. Stack will then convert it into a PDF document.
The app uses Google’s other expertise to make it better. Google has some of the best OCR (optical character recognition) technology, which Stack leverages to “read” all your scanned files. After the app has processed them, you can search for words in your scans to find files more easily.
Stack also uses AI to auto-sort files into different categories based on its OCR analysis. It doesn’t get it right every time, but you can always manually change the category.
Stack also backs up all your documents to Google Drive. Even if you uninstall the app, your scanned files will stay safe in the cloud and can be accessed anywhere.
Stack isn’t available for iOS users, but that’s okay. There are some simple built-in ways to scan documents on an iPhone, as well as a few free apps.
Download: Stack for Android (Free)
Download: Stack APK from APK Mirror (Free)
4. GameSnacks (Web): Fast and Free HTML5 Mobile Phone Games
Google has a website dedicated to free games you can play within the browser. This is a collection of HTML5 games, which are faster and more secure than the old Flash games. They are all optimized to be played on phones with your finger.
Currently, there are over 100 games on the GameSnacks, including the likes of Element Blocks (Tetris clone) and other puzzle games, action-adventure games like Tiger Run (runner), pool and billiards, and card games like Solitaire. You’ll also find recreations of classic games, making it one of the best sites to play games in the browser.
GameSnacks are ideal for those running low on phone storage or using slow internet connections. The HTML5 games are much smaller than Flash games or games you’d have to install from the Play Store. Plus, they work perfectly even when your internet speed is slow or you intermittently lose connection.
You can browse and play GameSnacks in the browser, and also quick-start a game through Google Assistant. The games are also playable on touchscreen laptops, iPads, and iPhones.
5. Verse by Verse (Web): AI to Create a New Poem Using Classic Poets’ Styles
Google keeps pushing the envelope when it comes to machine learning and artificial intelligence. We’ve already seen some of the mind-blowing creations AI can do with art. Verse by Verse is a step into the literary sphere, creating new poems with the words and styles of classic poets.
Start the web app to choose between three classic American poets from the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, and Robert Frost. Clicking any of them will give you a brief bio as well as one of their poems.
Choose the poetic form (quatrain, couplet, or free verse), the syllable count (up to 12), and the rhyme type. You’ll see an example of what you’ve selected right next to the menu, to give you an idea of what the final poem will look like.
In the poem itself, you have to add the first line, making you a part of this new creation. Then you can keep generating multiple suggestions for lines from all three poets, for every line. You can also add new stanzas. Once you’re done, give it a title. change the color and image, and download it to share with anyone.
Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away
Some of these apps are useful, while some are great entertainment. Try them out and use what you like, but as of now, don’t become too reliant on them. Remember, Google is notorious for killing apps and services even as new ones come along.