Over the past couple of months I’ve tried out most Google services in the quest for research efficiency. Ratings, in no particular order:
- Gmail: I use it but admit that I don’t yet “get it”. I expect to experience Gmail epiphany some day soon.
- Docs/Spreadsheets: Nice idea but needs more features to convince me fully.
- Notebook: probably my favourite. Simple and cleanly executed, makes gathering notes from the web a snap.
- Web albums: not bad. I can see their potential for sharing e.g. gel photos. For non-work related photography, Flickr all the way.
- Reader: also not bad and good for sharing feeds,
but I prefer a standalone such as Liferea.
- Groups: useful but not one of their better offerings. Needs work and better features.
- Calendar: barely used it so can’t comment much. I don’t do a lot of scheduling, probably useful for those who do.
On the topic of Google Groups – our lab has set up a couple of private groups, one for general lab stuff and one for a specific project. This is working quite well but there are a few annoyances. In particular:
- Registering users who have a Gmail address but would prefer to use an alternative address. Basically, they can’t.
- Calendar integration would be really, really useful for group event reminders.
- Page creation is extremely limited. It would be great if you could add e.g. the code that generates an RSS feed summary from Google Reader, or gadgets, to a Groups page.
Criticisms aside, I’m a big fan of Google services on the whole and recommend that everyone give them a go and provide feedback to Google.