Google isn’t just about search. It’s got a browser, a phone, devices, and a whole lot of apps. It’s constantly updating and adding things — making it way to easy to miss something neat in the flood of new features.
Every month, we take a look at what Google’s been up to, and how it might be handy.
Google Home Habla Espanol
First, whether it’s your first language or you just want to practice, Google Home now has a Spanish option. It’s easy to enable: Open the Google Home app, then Settings, then check Spanish under preferences. Then try out your Spanish and see how you do; we tested it and even with a terrible grasp of the language, its grammar, and its accent, Google Home understood what we were saying.
Google Maps Goes Foodie
First up, there’s a bunch of new tools in Google Maps for foodies. If you look under the “Explore” tab in Google Maps, you’ll find a constantly updated list of popular spots near you. If you’ve got Location Services turned on, it’ll also track what places you’ve been to, and if you want to share what you like to eat with Google, it’ll offer up its best guess on how you’d rate restaurants near you.
It’s available as an update for Google Maps.
Measure Everything On Google Earth
If you’ve ever wondered exactly how far it is from your house to, say, the tallest peak in the US, Google Earth has a cool new tool called Measure that, well… it’s fairly self-explanatory. It’s actually a lot neater than it looks at first: You can lay down two anchor points to find a distance, for example, but you can also lay them around a geographical feature to determine how many square miles it is.
It’ll settle a few bets, and it also has some more practical uses, such as figuring out the exact length of a trail.
Project Fi, Google’s Phone Service, Gets A Family Plan
Project Fi is a fairly intriguing deal from Google, where, if you’re willing to stick with an eligible phone, it’ll offer you a flat fee on calls and messaging with roaming data charged on a metered rate. The data rolls over, too, so if you’ve bought a gig of data, it goes to the next month, and if you go over 6 GB, the fees are capped.
This is particularly handy now that Project Fi has a family plan, so kids can be added to it. Parents have to watch over it through the Family Link app Google issues, but it’s still a handy option.
And Google Translate Gets A Lot Smarter
Google Translate is useful already, but its offline translation tools, where you download a language pack and it translates, regardless of whether you have a connection, got a major upgrade. Essentially Google is shifting a technology called neural machine translation, or NMT, from online to offline, once you download a specific language for Google Translate. It’s not quite perfect; we subjected it to the same terrible Spanish Google Home had to listen to, and it did manage to strike at the gist quite well, but it wasn’t a perfect translation.
Still, if you need help with language in a pinch? It’s a winner.