Categories / Social Media / Technology and the Internet

Google apps for Ramadan: A Talk at Google

Ramadan Kareem to all Muslims! The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is here – signaling a time of self-reflection, devotion in fast and prayers, and getting together with loved ones and friends.

So, in a coincidental turn of events, I was invited to a Google event as a media/blogger, rather than a Googler! I suppose it was because I write about the talks I attend, and the key takeaways here on my blog. The sharing sessions was held in the Google office too, so it was super convenient for me to drop by to check it out.

Google apps for Ramadan

It is not a shocker to say technology has changed the way we live (I’m sure you’ve not heard that before) – and here I’m sharing how you can tap into Google’s massive (and free!) ecosystem of apps to make planning, getting, eating, and enjoying together during Ramadan go more smoothly.

Google Apps Ramadan

Google page with all the little tips for Ramadan: http://www.google.com/ramadan

As a frequent user of Google apps, I’m glad to have many tips and little-known functionalities to share on. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the views shared here are of my own experience, and does not reflect those of Google.

1. Planning: Google Calendar and Keep

First up is Google Calendar. This is something I use on a daily basis so no surprises here that this app literally plans my life. Google Calendar syncs up nicely with my Google Nexus phone, so while I’m stuck in the morning MRT commute, I can start preparing for the meetings I have for the day (only to find out I’m running late for my 9AM!).

calendar02

The month view of Google Calendar – you can also scroll to day and week view.

  • Tip: Send invites to your friends with Calendar, and you are able to see details such as location (synced to Google Maps), and any links to a Google Hangouts page. (Serious use of Google ecosystem FTW.)
  • Tip: Select different colours to denote different categories of appointments that you can easily see at a glance, e.g. red is for work, yellow is for personal appointments, and green for fun stuff.
  • Did you know? You could also join the Google Hangouts link straight from your smartphone (provided you have the Hangouts app already installed).

Suddenly with Ramadan, my number of dinner appointments increases by 10x, so it’s really good to have Calendar handy. I do sometimes miss writing my plans in my Moleskine day planner though!

Google Keep is another nifty tool that you can use for laying out ideas and notes. Think of it as a notepad, similar to Apple’s Notes or Evernote. I use it to add ideas, pictures, voice notes, and even to-do checklists.

  • Tip: Install this on your mobile and any notes taken from either desktop/mobile are automatically synced to the cloud and updated on all devices. I had a really bad experience where my notes were not synced up to the cloud and everything was lost when I misplaced my phone.
That feeling when you lose your handphone and nothing is synced to the cloud.

That feeling when you lose your handphone and nothing is synced to the cloud.

  • Tip: Like Google Calendar, you can use different colours to denote different categories.
Not my own screenshot, but hey you get the point.

Different colours and types of notes.

2. Getting together: Google Maps

Google Maps is my lifesaver. I go for a lot of talks or meet ups after work, and I’m always looking up the locations of these strange new roads and hipster cafes popping up in Singapore on GMaps.

phone01 copy

Hmm Maps tells me I’m somewhere in Jakarta trying to get to my village for Hari Raya.

  • Tip: Use Google Maps to get directions by different modes of transport (drive, public transport, or walk), as well as predicted travel times.
  • Did you know? It syncs up with both the SBS and SMRT bus routes to provide public transport suggestions. I love it – I had to use other apps before this was integrated.
  • Tip: If you are thinking of taking a road trip, you can plan your stops with indicating a ‘star’ on locations you want to check out.
  • Tip: You can also find out about virtually anything near you (i.e. try halal restaurants, mosques) and see the details of those places including reviews. Try telling Google Maps: “Halal restaurants near me“.

3. Eating together: YouTube

What does YouTube have to do with eating? Lots actually! I’ve seen video channels where you can just watch people eat, pick up several nutrition tips, and learn new Ramadan recipes.

YouTube

Create your own or follow a current YouTube playlist.

  • Tip: Not sure what dish to prepare to break the fast or ‘iftar’? Check out the range of videos on Malay recipes – both professionally done by chefs, and others which are user-generated. (Maybe you fancy a Ramly burger?)
  • Tip: Sign in to your YouTube account to create a playlist of your favorite videos. Select ‘Add to Playlist’ the videos you’d like, or search for other curated playlists.

Now, I need to find a way to get my mum to watch all these videos of delicious recipes….

4. Enjoy together: Gmail and Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is fairly new to me; I used Microsoft Communicator and Skype in my previous workplaces. I was also used to Microsoft Outlook, but I believe Gmail is also used in enterprises now. That said, I really love these functionalities on Hangouts:

Google Hangouts and nifty tools on the sidebar!

Google Hangouts and nifty tools (such as screenshare) on the sidebar!

  • Tip: Google Hangouts does not require you to have someone ‘added’ to your list of contacts. You can set up a Hangouts link, and share the link with anyone to join. Your Google Hangouts login is the same as your Gmail login.
  • Tip: You can easily add people to your call, on any e-mail address. Your contact has to be signed in to Google Apps to join the call.
  • Did you know? Check out the screenshare function where you can show what you are looking at on your desktop – this is my absolute favorite feature as it helps to point out the documents I am presenting on.

Ramadan Mubarak!

So there you go, some tips on how to plan, eat, get, and enjoy together on Google apps. I’d be happy to share on any functionalities you would like to know more about Google apps. Here is the Google page with all the little tips for Ramadan: http://www.google.com/ramadan.

To all Muslims, Ramadan Mubarak and happy fasting!

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