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Five New Ways to Use Google

Google recently added five neat new features, including tracking and lookup utilities that will be very helpful for many of you. These new features are available now on Google.com to English language users throughout the world. International versions will be available in the coming months. The new features include:

  • Area Code Information. Enter a U.S. telephone area code into a Google search box (e.g. 847), and results feature a thumbnail map naming the geographic region at the top of the results page. Clicking the thumbnail displays the full Mapquest map of the area, a less useful result since it's an approximation, not an exact map, of the area code's coverage zone.
  • Universal Product Codes. Want information about a specific product? Enter its Universal Product Code (UPC), the number on the bottom of a bar code displayed on product packaging into the Google search box (e.g.: 074101420241). If the product can be found, results include a link to the UPC Database for more information. You need to be careful to enter all digits of the UPC code, including leading and trailing digits outside of the barcode, or you may not get results.
  • Flight Tracking. Enter an airline name or code and a flight number (e.g.: UA 44)and you'll get two links to flight information, from Travelocity and fboweb.com. This feature works well and is robust, accepting variations on the example above such as "united 44" and "ual 44," two other ways of referring to United Airlines. However, it only appears to work for major airlines.
  • Vehicle ID Numbers. Enter a Vehicle ID number (VIN) (e.g. JM1BJ225431140254) returns a link from carfax.com for a page with more information about the year, make and model of a specific car.
  • U.S. Postal Service Tracking Numbers. USPS tracking numbers generate a direct link to the USPS Web site with information about the shipping status of a package.

Search Engine Watch January 13, 2004

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