Google is constantly developing new apps, conducting experiments with AI, and making cool stuff. In case you missed their latest and greatest, here’s a quick rundown.
Google is a technology giant that is a massive part of how we use the internet today. Its developers and engineers constantly update Google apps or create new ones that make our digital lives easier. There is such a huge number of them, in fact, that it’s easy to miss out on some excellent tools, like the ones in this list.
Google Live Transcribe is an accessibility tool meant to make life easier for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. It automatically turns any speech into text while the person is still speaking. It’s fast enough to be used in conversations.
The text can be a black font on a white background or a white font on a black background. The top-right corner indicates whether the environment is noisy, which means people have to speak louder to be heard. And if someone speaks to you from behind, the phone vibrates to let you know. Try it out, it works surprisingly smoothly.
The app uses Google’s Cloud Speech API, so it requires an active internet connection. Google says it doesn’t store any audio on its servers, but we’d take such proclamations with a pinch of salt. Google already knows a lot about you, and they do share data with authorities.
Download: Google Live Transcribe for Android (Free)
Squoosh (Web): Compress Images Online, With Advanced Options
There are some amazing online tools to edit images and reduce their size. But you don’t usually get granular control or advanced options. All that changes with Squoosh, which is bound to become your default app for all image compression.
At its base level, you can simple reduce the size in pixels, or reduce the palette of colors available. But when you get into compression, you get to do a whole lot more. You can tinker with the image’s compression file format, quality, channels, smoothing, and quantization. If you don’t know what these are, let Squoosh pick it for you. You could even experiment with each to learn more about them.
As you change the settings, the final output size will change in real time. You can also see a before-after comparison in real time, using a slider. Once you’re done, download the image to save it.
There are some excellent tools to check if your accounts have been hacked. Google is making it simpler with the Password Checkup extension for Chrome. You won’t have to go to sites any more, the tool will now tell you when it’s time to change a password.
The extension monitors your activity on all websites you visit. Every time you enter a username and password that is part of a data breach known to Google, you will immediately get an alert. If that happens, it’s obviously best policy to change the password to something more secure.
Google says the extension’s purpose is privacy, and so it never reports any identifying information about your accounts, passwords, or device. Used with the new Google Passwords manager, this tool should be able to help you stay safer on the internet.
Download: Password Checkup by Google for Chrome (Free)
Shadow Art (Web): Form Shadow Puppets With A.I. and Webcam
This is so cool! Google has taken the ancient practice of forming shadow puppets with your hands, and turned it into an interactive digital experience. Shadow Art is one of Google’s A.I. experiments, available for free in the form of a web app. You’ll need a webcam and an active internet connection.
Here’s how it works. First you select your Zodiac animal sign. Shadow Art will then use your webcam to calibrate the space it’s looking at, and then show you an outline of hands. Use your hands to match the outline, and you’ll have created your first digital shadow puppet! As soon as it’s done, the puppet transforms into cool art.
Not only that, Shadow Art is also a game. You have to cycle through all 12 Zodiac signs, learning how to make the animal shape with your hands. You’ll get 20 seconds for each sign, so have fun!
Text.App (Chrome): Text Editor for Chrome and Chrome OS
For some reason, Google Chrome OS does not have a simple notepad or text editor tool. Text.App is the missing software for both Chrome OS as well as regular Google Chrome, for those who want a text editor that saves to Google Drive.
Text.App has all the standard features of a text editor, and then some. For starters, you can open multiple files and switch between them as tabs. You can save files to Google Drive, and open directly from Drive too. Developers will be happy to know that the app has syntax highlighting, so you can paste your code and work in it.
The tool is completely free, but there isn’t a web app version. You will need to use it as a Chrome app only.
Download: Text.App for Chrome (Free)
More From Google
These are the five latest tools from Google that we think are cool and useful. But Google has made so much more in the recent past that you might not have seen some of the others. For instance, did you know about these 5 Google-made apps worth checking out?