Bridging the gap: How tech can make you feel closer to home
MANILA, Philippines - Almost every Filipino has a relative or knows someone who is working abroad. More often than not, we find ourselves with the urge to communicate with them and somehow bridge the gap made by distance.
These days, it's easier to stay connected with our loved ones abroad and help them overcome homesickness. With technology, the internet, and social media it is easy to know what your friends and family abroad are up to.
In Google Philippines' first Google Cafe event, they decided to share new ways on how to interact with family and friends that are thousands of miles away.
For Filipino families
In a short, interactive skit, the Google team showed memebers of the media how a normal Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and his family can use Google apps and tools to communicate.
"We know that the Philippines is very unique due to the diaspora. It's a big phenomenon," says Google Philipines Marketing Head Ryan Morales. "We in Google are aware of how the internet is used as a tool in bridging distances so we try to answer the needs of internet users."
Starting with Gmail, Morales and communications manager Gail Tan showed how easy sending an email can be through a recently launched feature wherein the user can compose his or her email on a pop-up box. Users also have the option to use tabs that they can customize to keep their inbox clutter free, making it easier to spot important emails coming from family members as they won't get mixed with promotional e-mails subscribed to.
OFWs abroad can also make it easier for their family members to send in their pasalubong requests using Google Drive. Here, they can create a word document which everyone in the family can edit and add their requests. It's all a matter of giving your family access to the document which is updated in real time. So there will be no problem when it comes to last minute requests.
But this feature is not just for pasalubongs. The Google Drive feature can also create spreadsheets and presentations that are accessible to several people, making it popular to students who are all working on a project. Morales says this feature makes the process of sending a certain document that needs revision back and forth, obsolete. Edits done in real time save time and effort.
But a favorite among OFWs and their families among the latest Google apps is Hangouts. It's Google's answer to Skype, wherein more than two people can join. This makes chatting with your aunt in Canada and your uncle in Washington possible. There are also special effects which can be added to the real-time video where backgrounds and faces can be changed for fun.
The Google team also shared how their search engine can be optimized to provide finer, more filtered results (just click on "Search Tools" to refine your searches) and how it can help plan a perfect getaway using Google Maps.
Though all of Google's features may seem like a lot to digest, Morales says that OFWs abroad will find them easy to use – even if they are not techies. "A lot of our customers for the recently launched Chromebooks are OFWs. In our launch event in Singapore, most people who bought one said they are intending to use them to communicate with their loved ones back home."
Morales adds that Google is keeping up with the markets as recent studies show that the next 500 million people who will be going online will be coming from emerging economies like the Philippines, India, and Myanmar.
"That's why we set up shop here. We want to be here when it happens," Morales says. - Rappler.com