Google has been pretty busy in the past few days. There have been changes or tweaks to three of Google's product offerings, as well as the unexpected resurgence of one product that many thought would never return. We've broken the news down for you below.
1. Google Answers is back--in Russia. I guess Google figures Russia to be an inquisitive bunch, since it's re-launched its defunct (read: dead) Answers service there. According to a post from Google Russia's blog, it's the first country to get the service, despite the fact that the previous version was fairly similar. In the newly revised Russian Google Answers, users can spend points to ask questions. Other users can then answer those questions for a chance to earn points. The service keeps track of who is answering the most effectively, which differs vastly from Google's original inception that charged users $2.50 a pop to even ask a question. [via ZDNet]
2. Google Maps gets multi-stop routing. This new feature in Google Maps lets users set intermediary stop points along a route. Doing so changes the turn-by-turn directions on the left side of the map. People are going to love this if they're trying to plan a multi-stop trip, a service that was once relegated to travel agents or a visit to the local AAA office. Elinor Mills over at the News.com blog has a great write-up on the new feature here.
3. A lot of people are using iGoogle. This past week Google unveiled usage statistics for every gadget in use on its personalized homepage service iGoogle. The service aggregates this data a couple times a week, and refreshes it for all to see in Google's gadget directory. Anyone can now see how many users have added it to their iGoogle page, along with how many page views it's gotten. What's the most popular gadget so far? Google doesn't have a straight top 10 list, but the Wikipedia search-and-go widget has well over a million active users.
4. Linux users get their own version of Google Desktop Search. Linux users who have long felt left out of Google's free, system-wide search tool are in luck. The company released the Linux version this past Wednesday. Unfortunately, it's not the full-featured app with widgets such as PC users are currently enjoying. Instead, it's a slightly stripped-down file search, akin to the Mac version released a few months ago.