In a blog post today, Google announced that they are closing down Google Labs. Labs is a group within Google that develops and makes available prototypes of various applications, many of them for Android. In the blog post Google stated that many of the Lab Android apps will remain in the Android Market, though no specifics have been provided.
The announcement is personally a concern because several of the Android apps that I use every day are from Google Labs. Most important to me of the apps are Google Listen, which is what I use to listen to podcasts and Gesture Search, which is what I use to launch many of the apps on my phone.
When Gesture Search first launched I hoped that it would be integrated into Android, but still find it works well for me as a stand alone app. Gesture Search provides a blank area on the screen in which you can write with your finger the letters of anything on your phone that you want to open. You can use Gesture Search to open a contact, launch an app, or play a song.
Google Listen could be integrated in the future with Google’s Music app, although I am fearful that means it could lose it’s integration with Google Reader. One of the reasons why I like Google Listen is that I can easily manage podcast subscriptions on my PC in my preferred RSS feed reader.
Other apps from Labs include Google Goggles, which is Google’s image search app that will probably be integrated into Google Search in some way, My Tracks, which is a useful GPS recording app, and Sky Map, which is one of the cooler Android apps because it enables you to get information about constellations by pointing the phone camera at the night sky.