Google Technology In A Long Distance Relationship
Technology has a wonderful ability to make the world seem a smaller place, and today’s smartphones contain more communications functionality than a room full of equipment just forty years ago. I’m sure readers are familiar with the Internet truth (“alternative fact”) that when Alexander Bell invented the telephone, he had three missed calls from Chuck Norris. Today’s smartphones can do so much more than handle calls, they can retrieve dozens of Chuck Norris jokes inside a few seconds. With there being so many ways to keep up with people halfway across the world, let’s take a look at some of Google’s technologies that can help maintain a long distance relationship.
Yes, people still correspond, but in 2017 this can often be the shape of an email rather than a piece of paper.
The Gmail service is one of the original ways Google understood it’s customers, although this is changing. Gmail is both an email service and a client application. On the Android platform, the Gmail app includes support for push Gmail, idle IMAP, ordinary IMAP, POP3, and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync email; other email clients are available. The web client allows the option to “Gmailify” your other accounts, which gives you access to Google’s spam filtering technology, but it’s also easy to add other email accounts to the app. There’s also the Google Inbox app as well, and we compare Gmail with Inbox here.
As well as sending letters, the Gmail application allows users to send money and file attachments.
Google Hangouts is a messenger app that started off life as Google Talk, an instant messenger client that was never all that popular. Hangouts has evolved over the years, adding and then losing SMS functionality, gaining the ability to handle first video conference calling (with up to ten people on the same call) and later voice calling. At it’s heart, it’s a cross-platform instant messenger application, which means it’s possible to start a conversation on one device such as an Android smartphone and continue it on a Windows laptop, Chromebook, tablet, Apple iPhone, or whatever. Hangouts is free and allows you to send pictures, stickers and short video clips across your data connection. It connects via your Google account rather than your ‘phone number.
Google have released Google Hangouts Dialler, a handy little application that adds an additional tab to your Google Hangouts app. The Hangouts Dialler allows you to use Google Hangouts to dial a number for a voice call. It’s free to call most US numbers, but calling other numbers is chargeable.
Google is positioning the Hangouts app and service more towards G Suite users and the corporate world, and in 2016 introduced two competing messenger apps, Google Allo and Google Duo, described next.
Google Allo, Google Duo
Google Allo and Google Duo are Google’s two new generation communications apps. Google Allo is the company’s smart messaging application, which integrated Google Assistant technology. Google Duo is the company’s video and voice calling application, and uses different technologies compared with Hangouts to improve video and audio quality. Unfortunately, the Google Allo and Google Duo applications are not compatible with Google Hangouts. They also use your ‘phone number for identification rather than Gmail address.
For video and voice calling, Google Duo only supports one on one conversations, and at the time of writing is only available for Android smartphones and iPhones but a web version of Google Allo is expected in the second half of 2017.
Google Drive, Docs
The Google Drive service, including Google Docs, is another cornerstone Google Service and a technology that many other services utilise. Google Drive makes it easy to share and collaborate all sorts of files between different users, and distance is no object. It’s possible for many different users to simultaneously edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more using Google Drive, plus it’s easy to share files.
In the business world, collaboration is a powerful technology, but away from the corporate office it can also work very well. It’s easy to work together with a loved one on a document, article, or similar regardless of the time zone or distance.
In 2017, Google bolstered the Google Photos application with improved sharing options. Now it’s possible to share your Google Photos library with one or more people, either the entire library or just certain photographs – such as the ability to share pictures with certain individuals in them, as recognised by Google, and from a certain date. Possible uses for this include automatically sharing selfies, or sharing pictures of the kids.
If you don’t want to use Google Photo’s automatic library sharing features, you can still share albums of images quickly and easily using the Android or web application. This is a great way of sharing memories, and it’s easy for the recipient to add shares photographs or entire albums into their own library.
Google+ is an interesting service from Google that has never been as popular as, say, Facebook. It’s billed as their social media platform, and for a time many other services depended on it. Google have experimented with adding and removing different features connected with Google+ over the years, and it’s been used as an incubator for a few technologies. One of these is Google Photos, which grew from Google+’s Photo Backup. Google+ can easily be used as a means of sharing updates, restricted to only those people you want to share it with.