Life according to Google


One woman used it to see what her ex-husband’s home looks like now, another to see her sister’s place in the UK. Some use it to revisit old hangouts and for others it’s a way to explore foreign places that could be the destination for their next holiday.

Google’s Street View, which recently went live in South Africa, has grabbed the attention of many local web users.

Since 1 September last year several Google cars and bikes have been roaming across the country, taking detailed pictures. The company won’t say how much manpower it took but 27 towns and cities have been covered. If your street is one that has been captured by the company you’ll be able to see a photograph of your home from pretty much every angle.

Not everyone is happy about Street View though - residents of the village Broughton in the UK blocked Google cars from snapping their homes and some countries such as Greece and China have blocked the service, citing invasion of privacy. In response the company started to blur faces and licence plates on cars and have said people who want their homes removed simply have to contact them.

But South Africans seem happy to have their pictures taken - many are seen posing (although you can’t see their faces) for Google’s cameras. The company has also snapped all the World Cup stadiums (perfect if you weren’t able to get a ticket).

This is just the latest in Google’s stable of products. Many of you already use some of the hundreds of programs that make your life easier or more interesting but we’ve highlighted a few for those who don’t yet know that Google is more than a search engine.

The most important thing you need to do is open a Google account if you don’t already have one. Go to and click on Sign in. Click on “Create an account now” and complete the form so you can explore these programs.

* Get the latest issue of YOU (1 July 2010) for explanations on how to use some of the best applications and features of Google.

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