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The best of Google Labs

Check out what Googleplex boffins have been up to
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By Tim Ferguson on
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1 of 6 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet
Google Labs is where Google's latest tech innovations are made available to the public to test and provide feedback.

Some of the apps become full Google products while others quietly disappear from view. Graduates include the Web portal iGoogle, Google Desktop and the RSS feed aggregator, Google Reader.

ZDNet Asia's sister site Silicon.com took a look around Google Labs and picked out some of the most interesting apps currently making an appearance in Labs along with some recent products that have made it onto the search giant's full time roster.

Shown above is Google InQuotes which uses quotes from stories that appear in Google News on a particular subject. This page compares quotes from Barack Obama and John McCain from the recent US presidential race.

Credit: Google

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2 of 6 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet
Another one of the latest Google Labs apps to appear is Google Audio Indexing. This is a search tool for YouTube which allows the user to search for videos that include mentions of a certain term or subject within the audio rather than the written video description.

Credit: Google

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3 of 6 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet
Although Google Trends has been around for a while it has recently been used in a new way to help tackle global health issues.

Google Flu Trends aggregates search data around flu-related topics which research has shown correlates closely to actual incidents of flu. In this way, outbreaks of flu can be detected early and healthcare professionals can be ready to deal with the increase in patients.

Credit: Google

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Another app waiting to break out of Google Labs is Google Mars. It works in much the same way as Google Earth, although instead of providing views of the globe, Google Mars offers the surface of our nearest planetary neighbor using images from Nasa's Mars Global Surveyor.

Credit: Google

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5 of 6 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet
Canned Responses is an e-mail response system for those who find replying to e-mail a bit tiresome. The program sends automated e-mail responses which users can set up themselves.

The system can resend e-mail replying to common questions--for example, if a user gets a lot of e-mail requests asking for their birthday, Canned Responses will recognize these requests and send an automated response including the right date.

Gmail can be set up to filter combinations of keywords, senders and recipients to generate automatic replies.

Credit: Google

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6 of 6 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet
One of the more novel apps recently seen in Google Labs is Mail Goggles, an application designed to stop you sending e-mail that maybe you shouldn't.

If, for example, you set the application up to work on a Friday night--when many people have had a few drinks--it will ask you several maths questions before letting you send the message.

The aim of the app is to make sure you're thinking clearly enough to send the e-mail and thus prevent any drunken missives reaching bosses and ex-loves only to be regretted in the sober light of the next day.

Credit: Google

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