27 July 2006
What's in Google's Sandbox?
It’s been a while since I’ve done any digging around Google’s servers to try and find some new services, so I thought I’d have a quick go tonight.
I started by looking at one of the subdomains I found when I first ran my Google subdomains sniffing script last year:
Since Google Checkout was released earlier this year, that subdomain has been serving up what appears to be the Google Checkout pages. However, anyone who has tried to login would’ve noticed that they wouldn’t have been able to sign in using their usual Google Account. Furthermore, if anyone creates a new account from within these pages, it’s not a ‘real’ Google Account – it’s actually some kind of test account.
(Just try to sign in to the ‘sandbox’ pages using your normal account and it won’t work. Similarly, try signing in to the real Google Accounts pages with your ‘sandbox’ login and that won’t work either.)
It appears that the ‘sandbox’ subdomain and associated Google Accounts are used for the development and testing of new or experimental Google services. So, using the same methods I used to find new service code names before – e.g. Weaver / M Scrapbook, Google RS2, SSD, Mobile Download Console and Google LH2 – I managed to find and add the following services to my ‘sandbox’ Google Account – all of which aren’t currently available to add to your ‘real’ Google Account (even though you’ll have heard about some of them before):
|Service Name||Code Name|
|Google Online Assessment||goa|
|Google Real Estate Search||re|
|Local (AKA Local Business Center)||lbc|
|New Service (AKA Workplace)||wf|
Note: The links used above are the same as those linked to each service name in the ‘My Accounts’ page, of which you can also view the screenshot.
Update: 28 July 2006 (13:42)
Also now available, screenshots of the sandbox ‘My Account’ page in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese and Welsh!
In addition to those services, the following were recognized as being valid services – i.e. the usual login screens were available – but it wasn’t possible to add them to my account:
|Service Name||Code Name|
Local (AKA Local Business Center)
Some of you will have come across this before. This appears to be related to Google Local (now known as Google Maps) where you can create, edit, or suspend your Google Local business listing.
Well, I’ve already posted about Google RS2 before, but this is the first possible hint at what it could be. The link in the ‘My Account’ page points to Google Translate, so could it be anything to do with the statistical machine translation system that we know Google’s working on?
We all know what this is, but why would you want to add it to your Google Accounts page?
Update: 29 September 2006 (08:59)
Aha... they were planning on releasing Google Talk to everyone instead of just Gmail users. This was released on 28 September 2006. Read the Official Google Blog post: Now anyone can Talk
I’ve posted about Weaver / M Scrapbook before too. Most suspect it’s going to be some kind of Medical Scrapbook. The links points to google.com/h9. Could that just be a typo or might it be a code for something – i.e. Health 9?
They’ve already told us that they were going to migrate Writely to use Google Accounts, so it’s no big surprise that they’re testing that.
Update: 29 September 2006 (08:59)
Oops... I forgot to say that this was made live on 21 September 2006. Read the official Writely blog post: Google Account Sign-in LIVE
According to the Google WiFi FAQ, “Google WiFi is a free wireless Internet service offered to the city of Mountain View as part of our ongoing community outreach efforts.”
So what’s new?
This has been hinted at before, but only in the context of Google Base and Google Calendar. Is it really likely that Google would release a service specifically for events when they already have two that handle them? The fact that the service links to google.com/events suggests maybe they will – or, at least, maybe they’ve thought about it before.
How many guesses do we get? This really could be anything! (Unless it’s a new Google service that simply guesses what you’re searching for... like the Mentalplex perhaps?)
Update: 14 September 2006 (10:14)
This service was actually released on 1 September 2006 as Google Image Labeler.
Google Online Assessment
This could be just something that Google uses internally for internal assessments of Googlers. Or it could be used for qualifying sales leads or prospects. Has anyone got any other ideas?
Google Real Estate Search
Again, this concept has been discussed before with reference to Google Base. Are they going to be taking this more seriously?
Maybe number 13 in John Battelle’s Predictions 2006 post will come true. Maybe Google will finally plug mobile “into the web in a way that makes sense for the average user” and maybe they’ll also be the ones to create “a major mobile innovation - the kind that makes us all say - Jeez that was obvious.” But we’ll see...
New Service (AKA Workplace)
Maybe this is the big one people have been waiting for; the one that will really kill Microsoft Office. At least, if it’s at all related to IBM Workplace it could be. I don’t know an awful lot about this, so if anyone else feels more qualified to talk about it, please go ahead. All I know is that it’s got something to do with OpenOffice.org – so that’s why it could be the killer...
With code names like
voice, does anyone want to speculate what any of these could be?
Update: 14 September 2006 (10:14)
gmtservice has surfaced in the live Google Accounts pages in September as Google Marketing Tools.
So, after all that, do we think these are new Google services waiting to be unleashed on the Google-loving masses? Or are they just some experimental services that some Googlers at the Googleplex have been playing with for their 20% projects?
Update: 29 July 2006 (12:49)
Just a quick update...
I can confirm that Google have now deactivated all of the new services that I mentioned above. Creating a sandbox account and trying to add these now won’t work. Furthermore, Google have deactivated my sandbox account! When I tried to login earlier today, I got the following error:
I guess that’s fair enough.
Also, thanks to Digg user merreborn for pointing out that the sandbox is actually intended for the testing of Google Checkout, and is mentioned in the Google Checkout API documentation. I guess Google just didn’t expect people to start trying to register new services on there too...
Update: 3 August 2006 (13:39)
I would be surprised if Google Events is ever going to be released. It has probably been superceded by GCal. Google Guess sounds really suspicious. I mean it is as if they knew you were going to dig this up and wanted to tease us all. But seriously that could be anything.
Thanks for this Tony.
and thanks for sharing this !!
with your "new account", have you tried to connect here ?
just for try... ;)
Quick Tony, append ?hl=de, ?hl=fr, ?hl=es and so on in your Account page before Google shuts this down...
Thanks for the tip guys - screenshots for most languages have now been posted in the update above!
Also, could the GMT code be for some kind of time-sync service, i.e. the Greenwich Meridian Time?
Great post though. Its nice to see all these things organized in one place. Hopefully a good discussion will ensue regarding these new services.
Again, this is as good as anyone else's [Google] guess.
Rosetta Stone [at Wikipedia]
Makes you wonder if the SEO restriction called sandbox even exists or if everyone is really confused.
Aside from this, it looks like Tony has discovered the sandbox site is a loophole into figuring out other project names.
Well, at least until Google closed that loophole. ;)
Perhaps this is a link to that assessment engine.
I can see an instructor who doesn't have access to a university or secondary-school online course server setting up homework assignments and assessments through a Google Assessment feature. If you can invite other users to access your spreadsheet or calendar, an online test or survey should be trivial to set up.
My guess (french post, try google translate.
RS2, I think a code name for RSS, and it would be a web service that translates RSS feeds from blogs and podcasts into foreign languages, as Nativetext. The difference : Nativetext is a social service (by humans, for humans), Google RS2 would be an automatic service, according to state of the art of Google in automatic translation (I think Google is first in this field).
Secondly, about Weaver and h9, my guess is that we're talking about Sigourney Weaver in Futurama (in Love and Rocket), because she's voicing a parody of HAL 9000 in several scenes (Source). Now we know that for Google the meaning of Hal 9000 is The Ultimate Search Engine...
I wrote all a post for Google Weaver. Cheers,
P.S. Tony, I'd like to know what you think about my "theory" ;-)
The take on Google wifi is pretty serious as in case of San Francisco . As for the rest thanks Tony you gave me enough food for thought, will drop over later.
Google Sandbox efekat
Thanks Tony for sharing. I want to learn as match as I can about this.