10 Google Labs Projects From the Past That You Should Know

Google’s talented team has created many helpful tools to improve our online experience. Over the years, they’ve given us great tools like Google Reader, Google Maps, and Google Trends, to name a few.

Some of these tools were experimental and had their imperfections, but they brought new and exciting features. However, it’s important to mention that Google has since stopped supporting some of these tools.

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1. App Inventor for Android

First, let’s talk about an exciting tool that lets you create apps. Think about it: making apps without even needing to be an expert!

People often say, if you want to look stylish, get an iPhone. But if you want to impress tech enthusiasts, go for Android. And what’s even more impressive? Creating Android apps using App Inventor for Android, even if you don’t have an Android device or coding knowledge. I’m sharing this because I believe everyone should know they can create too.

App Inventor for Android

2. Google Fast Flip

Fast Flip was made for those who wanted the best content quickly and didn’t have the time to search the entire web. It showed users previews of important, new, and trending articles from top news websites. In just a click or swipe, you got the next great piece of content instantly. No more opening countless web pages looking for information. Fast Flip gave you exactly what you set it to show.

Its simple design was ideal for researchers, writers, and anyone keen on world events.

Unfortunately, Google Fast Flip is no longer available. Learn more.

Google Fast Flip

3. Aardvark

Ever had a question and wished for a quick answer, even after asking online communities like forums, Reddit, or Facebook? Sometimes, nobody knows the answer. Aardvark changed that. Just a couple of minutes after I asked, I got a response.

There were times when you wished someone could ask a question for you. Sounds odd? Aardvark had that feature. You could ask Aardvark to come up with a question for you. Pretty cool, right?

Unfortunately, Aardvark is no longer available. Learn more.


4. Google Goggles

Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, was a game-changer. It turned photos of text into actual editable text. Google Goggles used this technology so well that even in its early days, its capabilities were amazing. Snap a photo of something you didn’t recognize, and Google Goggles would identify it for you. No more struggling to describe things in words.

It was also handy for scanning business cards and documents, extracting contact details automatically. Travelers loved it too, as they could photograph foreign signs, and the text would be translated into their language. How convenient!

While the technology wasn’t perfect, its potential was huge, almost as groundbreaking as the invention of the wheel.

Google Goggles is no longer supported. Learn more.

Google Goggles

5. Google Shopper

Google Shopper had features similar to Google Goggles. It recognized objects with Android phones and quickly gave reviews and price options, including purchase locations. Imagine taking a photo of a product and instantly getting the details you need. You could also scan barcodes with it.

If you didn’t have an object to scan, no problem! Shopper had voice recognition. Check out the video to see Google Shopper in action.

Google Shopper

6. Gesture Search

Apps are great for saving time, and even though Gesture Search was only for Android, it was noteworthy. As apps became popular, people added many to their devices for convenience.

But with so many apps, it was like a cluttered computer desktop with tons of icons. Finding the right app could take time and be frustrating. Gesture Search changed this. It turned your Android touchscreen into a search tool. You just had to “draw” the letters or numbers of the app you wanted with your finger. It also worked for contacts and music.

The goal was simple: make searching for your favorite app stress-free.

Unfortunately, Gesture Search is no longer available. Learn more.

Gesture Search

7. Google Workspace

Shared Spaces was designed to bring teams together to work on projects. It was user-friendly with many tools to choose from, like polls and mind maps. Think of it as a digital meeting room where you could add tools to help with planning.

And for a break from work, Workspace (formerly known as Shared Space) had games for the team to enjoy together.

Google Workspace

8. Google Listen

Google Listen was a top choice for downloading or streaming audio clips, news, and podcasts on Android. Though it was experimental and had some issues, the team was always working to improve it.

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Google Listen is no longer supported.

Google Listen

9. Google Scribe

Have you ever been stuck trying to remember the next line of a poem in school? A helpful friend might whisper the next words, saving you from embarrassment. Similarly, many of us get stuck when writing, unsure of the next word or phrase to use. Google Scribe acted like that helpful friend. It auto-suggested words and phrases to fit your sentence, speeding up the writing process. With such tools, it felt like anyone could become a proficient writer.

Unfortunately, Google Scribe is no longer available.

Google Scribe

10. Google News Timeline

Google News Timeline was like Fast Flip, delivering instant content without the need to search individual pages. It functioned as a calendar, plotting search results based on their publication date. Ideal for researchers and students, this tool quickly became a favorite for many, including me!

Google News Timeline has been discontinued.

Google News Timeline

Over 50 Google Labs applications exist, and a third of them have successfully moved past beta testing, gaining popularity among users. I’ve highlighted some of the best here, tools that I believe are beneficial for everyday use. Though, there are some like the first on my list that cater more to hobbyists or those with spare time.