I Google, Do You?

If you have never tried out any of the features that Google offers to their consumers, you have been missing out!  I have only just begun testing out the options that Google offers, and wish that I had thought to do so much sooner.  Today, I needed to work on a project with another person located two and a half hours away from my home.  Instead of using the tedious process of an email chain, or attempting to hash out our differences via a phone call, we decided to take advantage of a few of the benefits available to us as Google mail users.

Google Docs is Google’s answer to the online “office” suite, taking the place of both word processor and presentation and spreadsheet creator.  Think of it as a combination of Word, Powerpoint, and Excel – only with slightly less bells and whistles.  For my and my partner’s project, we chose to use the document half of the program.  In Google Docs, I created a document and typed up all of the work that I had insofar accomplished on my end.  In order for my partner to see what I had created, I turned on the sharing feature, located on the upper-right-hand side of the screen.  I then added in the email address of my fellow group member, giving them permission to both view and edit the document I had created.  The best part of this?  Any editing we did was done in real time – I could see them highlight phrases, add and remove content, change font preferences, etc.  This made the work we did that much faster, being able to make changes right away instead of waiting for a response as we would have had we coordinated our efforts via email.

While being able to collaborate on a document in real time was very convenient, there was still the matter of communicating with one another as we worked out details on the project.  While we could have typed out notes to each other directly on the Google Doc, using it as a form of makeshift instant message transmitter/receiver, we chose to use a much faster means of communication – also offered by Google.  Google Plus is Google’s answer to the call for a social network.  It features many of the same options as are available on Facebook and Twitter, while allowing for more customization of ‘friends’ – or ‘circles’, as Google calls them – and including a ‘hangout’ option for instant socialization via each user’s webcam.  As the ability to speak face-to-face with my partner was a much faster way of communicating than through typing – not to mention much more convenient – I created a ‘hangout’ session with them.  To do this, I clicked the ‘start a hangout’ button on the lower-right-hand side of the screen.  A new window popped up and asked me to select what ‘circles’ I wished to ‘hang’ with specifically, as every person in every one of my ‘circles’ had been selected by default.  I chose my partner’s circle, deselected the ‘your circles’ (everybody) option (as I did not wish to make my work public), and clicked ‘hang out’.  An invitation was automatically sent out to my partner to join me, and by agreeing we were able to both see and verbally communicate with one another using our computers’ built in microphones and webcams.

Combining both Google Docs and Google Plus’ ‘hangout’ allowed us to make short work of our project: the end product was created in less than half of the time it would have taken had we used email, and a fraction of the time we would have spent on the phone.  I would highly recommend these features to anyone in need of an easier way to work on a long distance project (this would have made school projects so much easier had it been around when I needed it!) or even another way to stay in touch with someone they know.  I look forward to discovering all of the things that I can do with my Google account: each new way I can integrate technology into my life and make it that much simpler.  I can only wonder what I might uncover next – and look forward to finding out!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kamren Fraley
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 07:04:27

    Appreciate you sharing, great article post.Thanks Again. Much obliged.


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