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Some time ago, Google acquired the domain g.co as an URL shortener exclusively for its own services (e.g. Tech Crunch).

So far, I haven't seen it in use anywhere, and it would be very useful for long links such as those from the public data explorer.

None of the news reports I read mentioned when it could be used.

Can I already use it or are they still working on it? Is there a release date?

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Yes, it is. See the screenshot below. I just used it moments ago (7th of September 2011).

enter image description here

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According to the official Google blog, g.co sends you only to webpages that are owned by Google, and only Google can create g.co shortcuts.

When you open g.co web page, it says:

You’ve arrived at this page because you typed or linked to “g.co”, Google’s official URL shortcut just for Google websites.

Whenever you see a short “g.co” link, you can trust that it will always take you to a Google product or service.

We also have a public URL shortener at goo.gl. You can use this to shorten up URLs across the web.

Note: Google announced g.co on 18/7/2011.

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It's Google's business to create content based on their user's input (search strings, location coordinates, etc.). As far as I understand it, g.co will only be able to be used from inside a Google application (e.g. the "Link" link in Google Maps will produce a short g.co link instead of today's mess). But so far I've seen nothing like this. –  Legate Aug 4 '11 at 12:24
    
@Legate - There's a Maps Lab, which currently uses goo.gl/maps/ to produce a shortened URL. –  Joel H Aug 5 '11 at 0:25
    
@Joel H I see only seven Maps Labs at the moment and none of them has to do with URL shortening. –  Legate Aug 5 '11 at 8:23
    
It may have broke with the recent UI changes. –  Joel H Aug 6 '11 at 0:39
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