I find myself using Google products most of the time. These are Google Search, GMail, Reader, Picasa, Groups, Documents, Maps, Translate and so on... They are not bad generally, but I think I might be missing something better just because Google's offer is more popular. Are there some free and better alternatives to them?
This is sort of a loaded question because it really depends on your needs and how you plan to use the various tools. Do you want web only apps? Do you plan to work in a sometimes disconnected state? Will traditional desktop apps that include some collaboration features work for you?
That being said, here's a rough list of comparable apps:
- Google search: Bing
- Gmail: Yahoo Mail!, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird as a client
- Reader: Firefox plugin called Sage, Thunderbird's built in reader
- Picasa: Windows Live Photo Gallery, Flickr or Facebook (For storing images and slight editing)
- Groups: Yahoo groups, Windows Live Groups
- Documents: OpenOffice, Office Live
- Maps: Bing maps, MapQuest
- Translate: Babelfish, FreeTranslation.com
Here's an article I found on this subject: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/getting-free-of-googles-grip-the-10-top-alternatives.html
there's so many alternatives... you can check out the ZOHO suite: http://www.zoho.com/ it's pretty big.
The big new one is Microsoft Office Web Apps, which you can reach here:
You can read a comparison between Office Web Apps and the Google App suite on this Lifehacker article.
Is there anything specifically that you don't like about the Google Apps? What would you be looking for in new apps? The only ones from your list I would suggest alternatives to are Flickr for Picasa, however I am sure you already know of that, and using any browser extension (what browser do you use?) for translation instead of going to Google's translate page to prevent having to open a separate web page and copy and paste into it.
In my opinion though, you would be better off sticking with the Google's offerings, I generally find that they are superior to most others.
Microsoft offers Office Live Workspace. I haven't tried it myself, but in some comparisons I've read that Google Docs has better collaborative editing whereas Office Live Workspace has some unique features.
As an alternative to Google Reader, I'd encourage you to check out Feedly. It uses Google Reader to store your feeds, so there's no migration required to try it out, but it offers a much better experience, in my opinion, to the standard Google Reader interface.