(I’m not with my parents this Christmas, but I’m thinking about them and thought I’d post this.)
I was chatting with my parents a couple weeks ago and the subject turned (as it often does) to Google. They wanted to give me feedback on some Google products:
- My Dad has been using Google Book Search, and he said that it’s gotten a lot better since last year (mostly because he found more books, but I think he also liked the newer features). He used it to check out some Physics books and see what level they were at before he bought them.
- My Mom has been using Picasa 3 on her Vista laptop. She says that it’s got a lot of nice features — she especially likes the straightening feature in Picasa. She says that Picasa lets her do more work without opening up other programs.
- At this point, my Dad chimed in with a guilty admission: that he’s not using Google Chrome. “Dad,” I said, “you’re running on a Mac, so you couldn’t easily run Chrome anyway. They’re still working on it, but it’s totally fine if you want to stick with Firefox. Use whatever works well for you.”
- Then my Mom hit me up with a feature suggestion (she often has good ideas to improve Google’s services). My Mom uses Gmail and she also interacts a lot with people that speak Chinese because of a charity she works with. So she’s often in a situation where she gets an email in Chinese and wants to translate that email into English. She can do that via the Google Translate web page, but it’s a hassle to go to that separate page. She wanted a “translate into my language” button in Gmail that would auto-translate any text into English. I didn’t have a great answer for her, so I told her I’d pass the suggestion on.
On the last suggestion, I had a few thoughts while my parents and I talked, but I wanted to do more research. Some of the options I found:
1. The Gmail blog mentioned a new Gmail Labs experiment to let you add any Google gadget to Gmail. I wasn’t sure if this would work though, because probably the gadget wouldn’t be able to access the main frame with your email.
2. Then I thought this would be a pretty good Gmail Lab. In theory, you just take the content from the current email and send it to Google Translate. It seemed more like gluing two existing services together. Maybe a Googler would be interested in a 20% project to try this?
3. Then while doing the research for this post, I think I found an easy answer for my Mom. Since the last time I looked at it, Google Translate has been beefed up quite a bit, including a new tools section with a one-click bookmarklet to translate an entire page (or the selected text on a page) to your desired language. If you want to translate text into English, click on the “English” bookmarklet link and drag it to your bookmark bar on your browser. Then to translate any web pages into English, just click that “English” bookmarklet. Want to translate just some text? Then select that text and click the “English” bookmarklet.
So that was the product feedback from my parents (Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad!). Anyone have feedback of their own on Google’s products?