“We want to build technology that everybody loves using, and that affects everyone. We want to create beautiful, intuitive services and technologies that are so incredibly useful that people use them twice a day. Like the use a toothbrush. There aren’t that many things people use twice a day,” Larry Page, Co-Founder of Google and CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet.
True to his words, Google, the world’s biggest search engine, has been out to transform lives around the world with products such as Gmail, Android and Chrome.
So when the international tech company came to Nairobi to show journalists from Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria how people can use the company’s various apps especially when travelling, we could only oblige.
The company took us to different locations around Nairobi and its environs and in each location, the importance of the apps was evident as below.
Google Camera and Google Photos
Our first stop was the Great Rift Valley view point in Limuru. The world renowned scenery provides a great environment to expose one of Kenya’s many tourism spots. It is also a great place to take photos.
But what if your camera does not have a good resolution and you just cannot have the kind of selfies you want? Simply download Google Camera from play store. The camera has 16 megapixel photos and up to 1080p video which ensures that they are of high quality.
“If you are looking for a camera that will take the kind of photos that you have been looking for, simply go to the play store app and download Google Camera if it did not come with your phone,” Paul Solomon, Google Head of Communications, MENA SSA, Turkey and Israel said.
Google Photos is however the icing on the cake
The app ensures that the photos and videos you take are automatically backed and can be managed from a Gmail account. Google Photos also offers you free storage and are easy to fetch, edit and organize.
Photos taken are available even when you are offline.
We arrive to St Mary of the Angels, the smallest church in East Africa, at around 1055hours and put the second Google app to test. The app, Google Translate, is everyone’s solution for two reasons; first, the Church has Italian writings on the wall and there is no Italian in the room to translate. Second, the app is very easy to use.
“You simply go to Play Store and download Google Translate. From there, you only need to translate Italian to English and get the meaning directly,” Solomon explained.
The app is able to translate more than 90 languages by speaking or typing. Additionally, you can use the app’s camera which translates words from one language to another seamlessly. To ensure that Google Translate is helpful to the maximum, the app also works without internet.
Google Translate is especially useful when you travel to new places and need to understand local road signs and menus among others.
Google Voice Search
Wouldn’t you want to speak to your phone and tell it to do things for you and not just calling someone?
That’s exactly what we did during the Google road trip. My Nigerian and South African colleagues found it very useful seeing that they could ask about Nairobi’s weather which they were not used to.
“It’s been amazing knowing that by just asking if I will need to take a raincoat with me to Karura Forest, it tells me if it is necessary. Such convenience and ease makes it a fantastic app,” Sthembiso Sithole, a Social Media editor from South Africa explained.
It is not just the weather you can ask about. You can ask Google to open other apps such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. More to that, you can convert currencies and even ask for Google to take you to work!
“If you are looking for a location and cannot seem to find it, by turning on your location, Google will tell you how far where you are and how long it will take for you to get there,” Sithole added.
If you’ve ever been misdirected by people on the streets when you were looking for directions, then you probably are in the class of people who have embraced Google Maps since its launch in 2010. But did you know that Google maps can do more than just tell you where you are and where you want to go? The app also allows you to rate and review places that you visit. It also allows you to discover close-by places that may interest you.
And that is exactly what we did when we went to Carnivore Restaurant.
“It is my first time to be in Kenya and the Carnivore was one of my favourite places. I cannot wait to write a review of the hotel and rate it,” Gregory Nwakunor, a Nigerian Journalist said.
Google calendar is quickly pushing reminders and alarms to the corner of the room; not because they are not enough, but because of what Google Calendar brings to the table.
“The app, which is synchronised with your email address, buzzes to remind you when your event will take place and where it will take place. And what’s more, the app even takes into account where you are and tells you when to leave in order to make it on time,” Dorothy Ooko Communications & Public Affairs, East and Francophone Africa at Google said.
Google Cultural Institute
If you love art and appreciate rich culture, then you need Google Cultural Institute in your life. The app has partnered with museums and institutions to bring together the world’s cultural treasures online. In Kenya, Google partnered with Kenya National Archives to make the Archives digital.
Travellers will therefore benefit as they will get a glimpse of what they expect to find.