Soople is an elegant control console for Google's many powerful advanced features, bringing them all together in a well-designed, easy to use interface.
Google's sparse home page masks many great features that aren't always easy to find or use. You need to either click tabs to search specialized catalogs, or use advanced search commands, or visit "beta" services in Google labs.
Soople takes the opposite approach, surfacing this power with a set of nifty search forms designed to easily exploit Google's power tools. Soople isn't a search engine itself -- rather, it's just an alternate mechanism for getting information of all types out of the Google. In fact, it's a good intermediate step toward solving the invisible tabs problem Danny Sullivan wrote about last December.
From Soople's main page, many of Google's filters are available via simple forms. For example, you can limit your results to documents of a particular file type by simply clicking a radio button. There are also forms that search news, images, Google's new number search, and others.
The calculator page does a great job of showcasing just how powerful Google's internal calculator function actually is, by preconfiguring a number of common calculations. Number conversion, percentage, trigonometric functions, square root... all done easily and painlessly, without having to type in symbols or properly structured equations.
The phone and location page is a great idea, combining Google's residence and business phone directories, a reverse phone directory, and the experimental local search functions, all on a single page.
The word "soople" comes from an early English dialect, meaning "to soften, make supple." That's a pretty good description of what Soople does for Google. In fact, Soople's author, Floris Rost van Tonningen, says that the idea was to make Google's full power easily accessible for his mother.
He's succeeded -- not only does Soople make it easy to use the full power of Google, it also respects Google's minimalist approach with a clean, uncluttered design.
NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.
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