It's been 10 years since Google's initial public offer and the company has spearheaded a mountain of innovation since, but four of the search engine's advances stand out as technologies that forever changed the world or promise to reshape it.
Bing and Yahoo would take shots at it individually before joining forces to stay in the game, but it was Google Maps that set and continues to raise the standard for desktop and mobile mapping services. With features such as Street View added to allow for remote reconnaissance and its recent attention to local search results, rival mapping services will have a hard time competing with Google Maps for quite some time. Now it's even mapping underwater reefs in Florida.
Google Maps and its Street View spawned another idea that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are still trying to get regulators and motorists to fall in love with, though many people have a hard enough time staying calm in a passenger seat while a friend races through traffic. Google's driverless cars can be seen occasionally feeding Google Maps with images from roads all around the world, but Brin and Page think it's time to put some riders in the vehicles.
While not yet in development, Brin revealed his vision of riders summoning driverless cars. The cars would use a swarm mentality to remove human error from roadways and travel much faster than human should ever be able to drive today's vehicles.
Google wants everyone in the world to have access to a reliable Internet connection and it has launched Project Loon to make that vision a reality.
Project Loon has been working to establish a ring of balloons that float in the Earth's stratosphere and deliver Internet to the farthest reaches of the world. Each of the balloons can provide wireless Internet to a ground area of about 40 square kilometers, according to Project Loon's website.
Google Glass has the potential to change the way the world works. There has been concern about privacy and road safety surrounding the augmented reality glasses, but a big push from the enterprise world could spawn a new generation of smarter and better-equipped workers.
In June, Google announced its first five partners in its Glass at Work program. The enterprise initiative seeks to create software to make the AR glasses more powerful in the work place.
Glass at Work partner Augmedix, for example, is helping doctors spend more time with patients by connecting the caregivers' smart glasses to patient records. Augmedix has partnered with Thalmic Labs, makers of smart armbands, to allow physicians to use hand gestures to navigate through the heads up displays of smart glasses.