Is Google everywhere, or what? Its free applications for smartphones reflect the reach of its tentacles and include Google Earth, Google , Google Places, Google Books, Google Latitude, Google Shopper, and Google TV Remote. The last is for use with Google TV devices.
But these are my favorites:
*Google Voice, for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry, takes my calls, sometimes with hilarious results. I got this recent voice message, as transcribed by the app:
"Hey Reid, it's Steve they were. I left the message was too. But I guess you guys on your phone, or your Truman or something sees it."
And I swear that Steve usually makes sense. So the app has its drawbacks. Still, I like it.
*Google Voice works as an alternative phone system on your smartphone. Set it up, and it will take your missed calls and relay the recorded messages by email, along with a transcript that may or may not be decipherable, depending on the quality of the original connection.
There's a wide range of things Google Voice will do, including make calls and send texts over the Internet instead of using your allotted cellphone minutes. And it can be used to make cheap international calls. If you get a Google phone number when you sign up, you can set it to ring multiple phones at the same time.
*Google Translate now includes 58 languages for typed translations. Or, you can speak into the smartphone in any of 15 languages to get a translation, and listen to translations in 23 languages.
In "settings" there are choices for many language variants, such as the Argentine, Latin American, Mexican or European versions of Spanish. Tap the star to save words and phrases that you expect to need to refer to again.
*Google Search bypasses the smartphone's built-in browser. You can tap the microphone icon and speak search terms into the phone. And you can save or share any result quickly by email.
Search includes the spiffy Google Goggles within the iPhone app, but Goggles is a separate app download for Android.
*Goggles is a search function that lets you take a picture of a landmark, a book cover or a bar code and start a Web search or online shopping trip.
An advertised search feature that I didn't try even helps solve Sudoku puzzles, and the app translates text from several major languages.