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December 25, 2008

Top Google Products in 2008

This is a top of the Google products that improved the most in 2008.

10. Blogger has improved a lot this year by adding useful features like importing/exporting a blog, inline comments, blog rolls and scheduled posts.

9. Picasa Web Albums added a feature that makes it easy to organize your photos: people tagging. The system uses face detection to find all the people from your photos and then it clusters the faces. There's a new option to make the albums private, you can send photos to an albums by email and the "explore" page highlights beautiful images.

8. Google Translate added support for 10 new languages and there's a new API that enabled the integration with many services: Twitter Search, Google Reader, YouTube etc.

7. Google Docs added a PDF reader, forms, templates, spreadsheet gadgets, an offline version and a more consistent interface.

6. YouTube started to test higher-quality versions for videos and, at the end of the year, it went widescreen. You can add captions and annotations, there's a video analytics feature and a new personalized homepage. YouTube offers more ways to promote and monetize videos, but it's still far from reaching its potential.

5. Android, Google's operating system for mobile devices, has been released and the first phone that used it wasn't a very good choice. "There is tremendous potential for this OS on mobile devices -- it truly realizes the open ideals laid out by Google when they announced this project. The only problem seems to be the stuff they either left on the back burner, cutting room floor, or hoped would come from that exciting, untapped world of open source developers. While there's plenty to praise in this phone, there's a lot more that's missing -- and some of those missing elements are what we consider to be core components of a device in the G1's class," summed up Engadget.

4. Gmail launched most of the new features as Labs experiments and there are plenty of useful additions: from task management, sending SMS, to viewing Google Calendar agenda and customizing keyboard shortcuts. If you install a plug-in, Gmail supports voice and video chat. Themes make your inbox more personal and more distinctive, but you shouldn't forget about the option that automatically redirects to the secured version of Gmail.

3. Google Maps continued to increase the coverage for Street View, which is now available in the US, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. You can now get walking directions, car directions enhanced by Street View, traffic estimations and explore places by looking at geo-tagged photos and videos.

2. Google Search has a new advanced search page, it detects the date when a page has been published, it's more comprehensive by indexing previously inaccessible pages, Flash files and scanned documents. Google Suggest has been enabled by default, the SearchWiki experiment is now live and the snippets are more useful for discussion boards and scientific papers.

1. Google Chrome, the most advertised Google product, is a browser that went back to the basics and impressed people with speed and simplicity. Journalists rediscovered JavaScript benchmarks and early adopters started to be excited again about a browser. "Chrome is a smart, innovative browser that, in many common scenarios, will make using the Web faster, easier and less frustrating. But this first version -- which is just a beta, or test, release -- is rough around the edges and lacks some common browser features Google plans to add later," noted Walt Mossberg. Chrome releases new versions at an impressive pace and most of the major issues will probably fixed just in time for the distribution deals.


Related:
The top for 2007 and 2006.

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