“Larry and Sergey founded Google 17 years ago with the goal of helping users find the information they need. At the time there were only 300 million people online, fast forward today there are over 3 billion people connected,” Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google. These were the opening lines by Pichai at Google IO 2016.
My understanding of technology is totally from a consumer’s point of view, in other words anything that is easy to use and apply, works. Travelling with Google gave me an insight into their products like Google Maps, Photos, Search, Translate and more. Like all of us, I too was using Google but honestly what I learnt on the road trip from Chandigarh to Kasauli with Google Maps was an experience that had me hooked on right from the beginning till the end.
This was a trip that taught me a lot about travel through mobile. I am talking about Google Maps app that I am sure everyone is using for traffic alerts and navigation but there is whole lot of stuff that you can do with Google Maps like you can look for a pit stop with search along the route, you can book a cab and even find and share hidden gem of locations by sharing location and pictures.
The world is changing and every second technology is being upgraded and made more user friendly. The basic idea according to me for all such developments is that the consumer is the king. If you have a product that is easy to use and helpful then people would definitely accept it, such is the case with Google Maps. I had been using Google Maps for navigation and traffic alerts but it was on a trip with Google Maps that I got to know how consumer friendly this app is and why my life on the road will never be the same again!
Travelling from Delhi to Chandigarh with Indigo was a pleasant experience but without knowing the itinerary or the hotel where I would be staying was something that was playing at the back of my mind. But because it was Google so I knew I was in safe hands!
As I landed at the Chandigarh airport I met two guys waiting with a Google placard, I had already met Mridula Dwivedi at the airport so I was quite comfortable and was eager to find out what was going to happen next.
These guys handed me and Mridula an envelope with a clue, we both headed in our respective vehicles to find out more about it with the help of Google Maps. With the navigation tool in Google Maps I located the clue which was an Indian Oil filling station with 3.8 star rating and found that my hotel room key was waiting for me here at the petrol station. What a game of treasure hunt it was!
At JW Marriott Chandigarh, I met Sanket Gupta, product head, Google Maps who helped me and others understand the wide range of the product which is definitely much more than navigation and traffic alerts. You can search for pit stops along with navigation, try offline maps for times when you have a spotty connection, book a Ola or an Uber with Google maps, find and share your favourite restaurant, tourist spot, cinema hall or anything that you like, become a local guide for your family and friends and the world by adding missing places or reviewing the ones already included.
The benefits of being a local guide are aplenty you can get 1 TB Google Drive storage and exclusive invitations to events by Google but of course these are for you once you are a level 4 and level 5 local guide. I am a level 2 local guide with Google and hope to have my level 5 soon after all who doesn’t want to be invited by Google.
Same evening I booked an Ola cab using Google maps to a nearby restaurant in Chandigarh for dinner. Pretty convenient!
Next day there were again instances of multiple uses of Google Maps, once onboard the car towards Kasauli I decided to take a pit stop at the Mughal Gardens built by the rulers of the Patiala dynasty which was Pinjore Garden or Yadavindra Garden as shown in Google Search. After clicking and some fun in the sun I headed to a cable car ride at Timber Trail in Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh where after having tea and pakoras I was supposed to read something in French!
I was thinking to myself had I been travelling with my elder daughter who is learning French it would have been easy but everything written on the board was French to me, literally. Without much ado, I used Google Translate and I once again was in love with Google. Google Translate gives you real time translation, all I had to do was point my screen at the board in French, click on the camera and text came alive on my screen. Till date Google can instantly visually translate printed text in 29 languages.
So now I knew that I had to head to Baikunth Resorts in Kasauli. After a sumptuous meal at the hotel Google Search helped me with all the tourist spots at Kasauli which meant clicking at the sun set point, eating bun samosa at Tannu Ki Dukaan also known as Narender sweet shop who has served Rocky and Mayur of Highway on my Plate, Shobaa De and many more.
This trip was such a learning experience that as long as I am with a phone travel would be a unique experience with Google Maps.
Good Things at Google IO 2016:
Recently I also watched the Google IO 2016 and have already a list of products/ services that I need to lay my hands upon:
- Google Home: A must have cute looking device that lets you enjoy music and entertainment throughout your entire house, manage everyday tasks more easily. All this and more by only speaking like you would to a human being. Let’s have a conversation with Google.
- Allo and Duo – While Allo is a new messaging app Duo would be a simple one on one video calling app for everyone with features like Knock, Knock where you could see people even before you pick up that call.
- Android Wear 2.0 – New age watch
- Android Instant Apps – android apps would run without installation
Google had entered our homes long back and now I must say it has made way in our hearts too. Welcome Google!