Lately, as I’ve been learning Google+, I am continually reading posts and visiting links about how Google and its family of products and features can help you grow your audience or your business; what I haven’t seen much of is how they can be geared towards families. I know Google used to have Google Apps that were offered for free for small organizations and many families jumped on board, but I’m not talking about that.
What I’m referring to is simply using Google products for family oriented purposes. Below, I list 6 of Google’s features that I have personally used with my family.
I recently wrote about my first Google+ Hangout experience that I had with my brother who I don’t get to see very often. Hangouts allow up to 10 total people to video chat; how cool is that? Many families today are spread far and wide across the country (and the globe for that matter).
With all this distance between us, it can be difficult to see each other as often as we’d like. Google Hangouts can make this distance seem much shorter – allowing families to connect and hangout.
2. Chrome Remote Desktop
You’re probably thinking, “what?!” How many of you have that family member who calls you to help them with every computer question they have? You try to direct them while not being able to see exactly what they’re doing and try to explain to them how to navigate, etc. (this can be frustrating work, right?).
Chrome Remote Desktop is the answer! Chrome Remote Desktop is a Chrome add-on that allows you to securely connect to a remote computer. So when you get that call requesting your help, you can now save yourself some stress (I know it’s family and that’s never stressful ) and remotely access their computer and help solve their problem.
3. Google Latitude
Latitude is a GPS-enabled service that works together with Google Maps and allows you to see, in real-time, where your friends and family are. If you’re thinking I’m going to say to use Latitude to keep dibs on your kids, that’s not what I’m referring to (although, that could be a good idea, but I’m going to stay out of that one).
Also, allow me to clear the air with the whole “I don’t want others knowing where I am!” First of all, you have to give someone permission to even see where you are. Second, you can control when you are visible or not; so no need to worry.
Here’s an example of how I was able to use Latitude for family purposes:
My family is spread out and we were all gathering together in Southern California at one of my brothers’ places. I had another brother who was driving down from Northern California; instead of calling or texting him (which is illegal in California while driving and dangerous), I had him get setup on Latitude and I was able to view where as he made his trip south.
This was not just a “fun” feature, it was also a safety feature – he could focus on driving and we could see where he was (which is another safety feature in case something happened to him).
4. Google Voice
Google Voice is full of features and I highly recommend taking a look at the Google Voice Features page for more information.
In short, Google Voice is a free phone number you can setup and use for texting, calls, voicemails and more.
Unlike standard texting through your carrier, Google Voice allows you to text over Wi-Fi. This comes in really handy when you are in an area (like a building or another country) where you don’t have any signal, but you have Wi-Fi – you can still text using your Google Voice number. On top of this, you can use your Google Voice number to text on your tablet and computer. Is this convenient? Yes!
Google Voice also allows you to setup your number to ring to multiple phones. Why is this so great? Let’s say your wife is expecting; you can have your Google Voice number ring to your cell phone, office phone, and any other phone number you want. That way, when that life-changing call comes in that your wife needs you, you can easily be reached.
5. Google Now
I love this feature available on Android Jelly Bean. There is a lot to Google Now and you may be wondering how this applies to families – it can be a fun activity to do with the kids.
I showed my daughter how you can ask Google something and it comes back with a response (like in the Nexus 7 commercial where the little girl asks how many miles it is to the moon). Not only did she laugh at me and tell me my phone is a girl, but she wanted to keep asking it questions. I’ll ask her what she wants to do and she says “we can ask Google something.”
What a great way to bond with your kids and it can be educational, too.
I don’t think that YouTube needs much introduction as it likely the best known feature of Google listed here.
YouTube can be great family fun. One way I use YouTube with my daughter is almost game-like. As we’re sitting around doing nothing, I’ll pull out my phone or tablet and bring up YouTube; she knows exactly what we’re going to do – watch videos on photography (like Gavin Hoey), Photoshop, or other fun things like Ken Block’s Gymkhana or Danny MacAskill’s amazing bike stunts.
She came up with the method of having us each take turns of choosing a video – she’ll pick one to watch and then I get to pick one and so it goes (sometimes for quite some time). We have a fantastic time doing this and it is and it’s cheap entertainment!
Google has so much to offer and I’ve really only given a brief overview of how some of Google’s features can be geared towards family. I’d love to hear how you have used some of these features within your family.