As you might know, Google develops Apps for both Android and iOS. While many Google Apps (like Gmail) are preinstalled on Android devices, there are some, which you have to find in the App Store and install by hand. I was checking out the Apps uploaded by Google's Account in the Play Store and found these gems, some of which I did not even know about:
Google Opinion Rewards
This app actually earns you money! Not like in those ads on the semi legal websites you visit. It really works! You do not have to download some other App or participate in a prize competition. By filling out surveys and polls, you can earn Google Play credits. In my case, I got around 0.15€ to 0.70€ for every survey I completed, each survey taking less than 2 minutes. Questions in the survey range from "What is your favorite color?" to "Did you visit one of these shops last week?".
So, that's 6 surveys or 12 minutes "work" on your phone for a free movie rental in the Play Store, right? Nice!
But here's the catch:
You can't just do 6 surveys one after the other. You have to wait until you get a notification from the app that there is a new poll waiting for you. So, sometimes you have to wait a week before Google decides that your opinion is interesting again.
In the screenshot below, you can see how much money I made, while testing the app for about three months.
Google Translator's Instant Translation
You probably have used this app, but maybe you do not know what it's actually capable of:
Not only can this app translate written texts, it has also two great instant translation features:
The first one can be used to translate a whole conversation for all partners. The app listens for speech in both languages and promptly outputs it in the other language over the phone's speakers, whilst showing the text on the screen as well. You can access this feature by pressing the microphone button after starting the application on your phone.
I imagine this to be very awkward in a real conversation but it can be a real lifesaver if you are depending on help in a foreign country.
Another great feature of the same app is the instant translation via the camera: The app searches for text in front of your camera lens and then instantly translates the text. The user then sees the camera output with the translated text instead of the foreign text. Google Translate mimics the font and formatting of the text, so the translated version looks almost like the reality. You have to see it to believe it (that's why I took a picture for you!)
I first saw this feature in some Google promo video and wasn't even aware that this great app was on my phone and waiting to be used for a very long time. I think, most people using Android Phones don't know what this translate app can actually do. If this feature was developed by Apple we would at least have seen it in a commercial...
Everyone knows Google's Picture Search: You put a term like 'worst Batman movie' into the search field and Google will show you pictures of the Batman & Robin movie. With Google Goggels you can do this the other way around: With the camera-like App, you can make a picture of the cover of your worst DVD purchase in years and Google's search results will tell you that this is the worst Batman movie ever.
The App does this by both "reading" the text in the photo and comparing the structures in the photo with photos in the Google database. So the app can, for instance, tell you the name of a painting when you are in a museum.
Another cool feature of the app is the ability to scan text in the picture: You can easly copy the text to your clipboard or even translate it to another language with the help of Google Translator
Chrome Remote Access
This App allows you to access your or a friend's computer with your smartphone or tablet. It uses a browser extension in Chrome on your PC or Mac and an app on your iOS or Android device to manage the remote connection.
This, for example, comes in handy when you need a file you stored on your private PC while being at work: Just log in on your PC through your smartphone and send it to yourself. As you can see in the screenshot, the app shows you exactly what you would see, if you sit in front of your PC looking at your monitor.
You move the mouse around by dragging it with your finger on the touchscreen. This works surprisingly well.
Of course, there is a clearly noticeable input lag, which varies depending on your connection speed.
Chrome uses your Google Account to register your PCs or Macs and allows you to control these via any phone you log into. The remote connection is encrypted: To authenticate, you have to type in a PIN, which you choose when you open the Chrome Extension for the first time.
Sadly, you cannot remotely control your machine if it’s in standby mode or switched off. But you problably leave your machine running all the time, because you are torrenting anyway!
Google Photos is a web and mobile app to help you organise and share your photo collection. Using manual upload or automatic synchronisation, you push your photos to the Google Cloud. Here, basic things happen, like reading the meta data of your photos and sorting it by the time it was taken. But it goes way beyond that. Using Google's picture search algorithm, the app tries to figure out, what's in your photos, so you can search for it. It recognizes people, places and scenarios. So if you are searching photos you took while you were at a wedding. You could search for the word 'wedding' and quickly find the desired pictures. This actually made me gaze in amazement, when I first tried it. You have to see it to believe it. The App categorizes the Photos you took automatically and makes suggestions, in the search menu. The screenshot below gives you a small glimpse of what the algorithm can do:
Another advantage of this app is that you can automatically backup your photos. They don't use up all your phone storage anymore and are safely stored, if you or your cat should ever break your phone. The web app gives you an easy way to backup all your old photographs lying around on some dusty hard drive as well. Just be sure to enter the correct Meta data for your pictures before you upload them, so Google can categorize them in the correct time and date.
But that's not all: The app automatically creates montage movies, collages and animations based on the information you feeding it. The moment you’re back from a holiday it will suggest an interactive album, which connects the places you visited with the photos you took on a map. That’s fantastic for reliving a road trip! It also can stitch together panorama pictures by recognizing that two or more pictures show the same place in a different angle.
And here's the best thing: You can upload as many pictures as you like for free. The only downside: If your pictures are too big, Google will scale them down a bit. If you do not want that you can buy Google Drive storage and save your pictures in high definition.
A lot of the apps mentioned here have but one purpose for Google: Get more of your data. It's plain to see and nobody (including Google) makes a big mystery out of it. Remember, if something is free, YOU are the product. At least most of the time. I think, everybody has to make the decision, whether he or she (who am I kidding, only dudes read this blog!) is OK with Google knowing even more personal stuff about them. It's a weighing of interest of privacy concerns and the improvements those apps bring to your digital life.