Tag Archives: Google Apps

Renewing old resolutions for the new year

As we head into 2012, we’ve been sticking to some old resolutions—the need to focus on building amazing products that millions of people love to use every day. That means taking a hard look at products that replicate other features, haven’t achieved the promise we had hoped for or can’t be properly integrated into the overall Google experience.

Here’s an update on some products that will be merged, open-sourced, or phased out in the coming months:

  • Google Message Continuity (GMC): In December 2010 we launched an email disaster recovery product for enterprise customers that use Google’s cloud to back up emails originally sent or received in an on-premise, Microsoft Exchange system. In the time since we launched, we’ve seen hundreds of businesses sign up for it. By comparison, in that same time, we’ve seen millions of businesses move entirely to the cloud with Google Apps, benefitting from disaster recovery capabilities built directly into Apps. Going forward we’ve decided to focus our efforts on Google Apps and end support for GMC. Current GMC customers will be able to use GMC for the duration of their contract and are encouraged to consider using Google Apps as their primary messaging and collaboration platform.
  • Google Sky Map: This app was created by half a dozen Googlers at the Pittsburgh office in their 20 percent time to show off the amazing capabilities of the sensors in the first-generation Android phones and offer a window into the sky. Since we launched the tool in 2009, we have managed to share our passion with more than 20 million Android users. We will be open-sourcing Sky Map and are collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University in a partnership that will see further development of Sky Map as a series of student projects.
  • Needlebase: We are retiring this data management platform, which we acquired from ITA Software, on June 1, 2012. The technology is being evaluated for integration into Google’s other data-related initiatives.
  • Picnik: We acquired this online photo editor in 2010. We’re retiring the service on April 19, 2012 so the Picnik team can continue creating photo-editing magic across Google products. You can download a zip file of your creations through Picnik Takeout or copy them to Google+. As of now, the premium service is free to everyone. Premium members will receive a full refund in the coming weeks.
  • Social Graph API: This API makes information about the public connections between people on the web available for developers. The API isn’t experiencing the kind of adoption we’d like, and is being deprecated as of today. It will be fully retired on April 20, 2012.
  • Urchin: In 2005 we acquired Urchin, whose online web analytics product became the foundation for Google Analytics, helping businesses of all sizes measure their websites and online marketing. We’re fully committed to building an industry-leading online analytics product, so we’re saying goodbye to the client-hosted version, known as Urchin Software. New Urchin Software licenses will no longer be available after March 2012.

Resolutions can be hard, and changing products that people love is hard too. But we’re excited to focus on creating a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google—an experience that will change the lives of millions of people.

Google Apps highlights – 12/16/2011

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

The elves got an early jump on the holidays this year by leaving us some surprises in Google Apps over the last few weeks. Sharing from Gmail got a whole lot easier, and Google Calendar can make better use of precious screen space. We also have 10 new Google Apps customer stories to share from the tens of thousands that have gone Google in recent weeks.

Gmail gets more social
Last week we sprinkled a touch of Google+ into Gmail, making it easier to connect and share with people from your inbox. You can add people to circles right from an email thread through Gmail’s people widget, share photo attachments with friends and family on Google+ without leaving Gmail, and view a filtered version of your inbox only showing messages from people in your circles. We also improved Gmail’s address book by incorporating contact information shared by your friends, family and colleagues in their Google+ profiles.

New features in the Gmail iOS app
Just yesterday we added several new improvements to the Gmail app for iOS 4+. Now you can set up a custom email signature for mobile messages, manage your vacation responder, and view nested labels from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. We also added scribbles, a fun way to spice up messages by adding a quick hand-drawn sketch. You can create scribbles using a range of colors, brush sizes, lines, erasers and spray paints from your touchscreen device.

More free calls right from Gmail
Last year we introduced free domestic calling in Gmail within the U.S. and Canada, and we’re extending this free service for the whole year of 2012. We’re happy to help you keep in touch with those special people in your life, for free.

Hide morning and night hours in Calendar
If you don’t often have appointments early in the morning or late at night, a new trick in Google Calendar might be useful. Now you can hide morning and night hours, leaving more screen real estate for the times of day when most of your events take place. Give it a try in Calendar Labs.

Who’s gone Google?
Businesses and schools are switching to Google Apps in droves these days. From tiny startups to large enterprises and nonprofits to college campuses, we love hearing the inspiring stories that our customers share. Here’s a new batch of stories for your reading pleasure: TripIt, IPSEN, Ebby Halliday, Ticket River, VigLink, HeyZap, The Great Books Foundation, Utah K-12 schools, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and UC Santa Cruz. Welcome one and all!

For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog, and keep an eye out for this series here after the holidays. We launched more than 150 improvements go Google Apps in 2011, and we have a ton more in store for 2012!

Atmosphere 2011: A view from the cloud

Last month 350 CIOs and thousands of live stream viewers joined us for Atmosphere 2011, our annual cloud event. Leading companies from around the world came to explore how businesses are using the web to drive collaboration, innovation and growth in their organizations. In case you missed them, the keynotes are now available on our YouTube channel. You can watch the entire conference in order on the Atmosphere playlist.

This year’s speakers included a best-selling author, award-winning computer scientists, Google executives and product managers, and several Google Apps customers including Flint Waters, CIO of the state of Wyoming, Bryson Koehler, SVP of Global Revenue and Guest Technology at IHG, Michael O’Brien, CIO of Journal Communications and Christine Atkins, VP of Group IT at Ahold.

One of the highlights was listening to Christine Atkins talk about Ahold’s experience moving 55,000 users to Google Apps and how, in her words, “Google Apps is helping us deliver on the promise that we’ve all been seeking: that of strong collaboration platforms that help our company come together and work together.” You can watch Christine’s presentation here:

Google Apps highlights – 11/18/2011

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

The last few weeks have brought a fresh new look in Gmail, more mobile access options and simpler meeting scheduling tools. Millions of organizations using Google Apps can now use Google+ on their business and university accounts, and we launched a couple Apps-related Google+ Pages ourselves.

Gmail’s new look
Back in July we previewed Gmail’s new look, and a couple weeks ago we started letting people switch to the new design with one click. The refreshed interface makes it easier to follow conversations and spot the sender with profile pictures for each message. The new look also supports dynamic screen densities, so Gmail displays properly whether you’re viewing on a large desktop monitor or a smaller mobile screen. We also added a selection of beautiful HD themes to the existing gallery. Finally, we made it easier to perform advanced email searches using a panel of powerful search options that reveals with a single click.

Gmail app for iOS devices
This month we introduced the Gmail app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, complete with mobile alerts for new mail, a responsive touch screen interface and Gmail mainstays like fast search, conversation view and address auto-complete.

Suggested meeting times in Google Calendar
We’ve heard how frustrating it can be to spend 15 minutes finding a good time for people to convene for a 30 minute meeting, so we made it easier to find a good meeting time in Google Calendar. The suggested times feature automatically reviews the availability of meeting invitees, and proposes event times that work for the whole group.

Google+ for organizations using Google Apps
Businesses, schools and organizations with Google Apps can now use Google+. Employees and students can create profiles, +1 things they like on the web, share interesting content with their circles and have live multi-person video chats with classmates, colleagues and friends. Organizations can also create their Google+ Pages—an organization’s identity on Google+ for customers, students or fans. We’re using Google+ Pages ourselves, so take a look at the Gmail and Google Enterprise pages, and circle us if you’d like to stay in the loop.

24×7 telephone support and improved mobile device management
This week, we introduced a couple other new benefits for Google Apps customers. Organizations of all sizes around the world can now call our support hotline at any time for all core service issue. Also new this week, we improved our mobile device management capabilities with an interface for administrators to view and deny mobile devices connecting to Google Apps, granular mobile policy controls, and the ability to visualize mobile usage trends across the organization.

Who’s gone Google?
Organizations large and small continue to amass around Google Apps. We’re thrilled to welcome a whole host of new customers including the Trinity Mirror Group (Britain’s largest newspaper publisher), startups such as JobFlo and UserTesting, organizations including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and colleges like the University of Michigan and UT Austin. Welcome to all!

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Go Blue, go Google

I’m one of hundreds of University of Michigan alumni currently working at Google. So is this guy. I’m proud to have a degree from U-M—and that we made it to two Rose Bowls and one Final Four during my time there. But I’m even more proud that today we’re welcoming my alma mater to the Google Apps for Education family. By providing our cloud services to the entire university community, we’ll continue to build on the strong relationship that Google and the University of Michigan have had for many years. Many other alums—especially in our Ann Arbor office—are just as excited as I am:

Over a year ago, the University of Michigan (U-M) announced a new IT strategy known as NextGen Michigan, a plan to upgrade technology across the campus. Laura Patterson, U-M’s Chief Information Office, told us the switch to Google is just one of many projects that will make up U-M’s multi-year strategy for changing the approach to IT service and investing more heavily in technologies that will advance the university’s academic, teaching, research and clinical programs. She said: “Adopting Google Apps for Education will help support U-M’s leadership in teaching, learning and discovery, as well as improve collaboration across campus.”

As their first order of business, U-M kicked off a project to select a unified messaging and collaboration platform to help consolidate the more than 40 email and calendar tools which currently service about 90,000 students, faculty and staff. After a review process that included townhall meetings and a campus survey, the university’s IT steering committee overwhelmingly recommended Google Apps for Education as U-M’s preferred provider.

In addition to the suite of products in Google Apps for Education, U-M also plans to use APIs to build rich integration with existing campus services and encourage increased collaboration.

Hail to the Victors—The University of Michigan is going Google!

Let freedom (from servers) ring: EDUCAUSE 2011

This time last year, we were tailgating with the USC marching band at the EDUCAUSE conference—an annual gathering of the higher-education IT community. Last week, with more than 15 million people now actively using Google Apps for Education, we ventured to Philadelphia for a few jam-packed days at EDUCAUSE 2011. Our time in the city of brotherly love included a booth with 30+ Googlers and a woodsy backdrop for our fireside chat series; meeting with hundreds of CIOs from universities using and considering Google Apps for Education; a party at the Academy of Natural Sciences; and of course liberty and the lifelong pursuit of the Philly cheesesteak. Here’s a glimpse:

The Campus Computing Project released its annual report at EDUCAUSE, too. This year’s survey named Google as the leading provider of outsourced cloud-based campus email services. According to the survey, 89 percent of higher education institutions are either already using or considering switching to cloud-based solutions. Of four-year colleges and universities (including community colleges) that have already moved to the cloud, more than 56 percent have gone Google—including 64 percent of public universities and 66 percent of private universities.

Last month we shared that 61 of US News and World Report’s top 100 Universities are using Google Apps for Education. That number’s now up to 62, and is still just a snapshot of the thousands of institutions using Apps on campus. Schools that have recently selected Apps for Education as their collaboration platform include Harvard University, University of Texas at Austin, Wellesley College, University of Amsterdam, Stanford Graduate School of Business, University of York and University of Bristol.

In addition to these new schools, we’re also bringing some new integrations to Apps:

  • OpenClass: Pearson has developed a free cloud-based Learning Management System that is tightly integrated with Google Apps and provides a new kind of learning environment that stimulates social learning. This is available in the Apps Marketplace
  • SlideRocket EDU: This presentation software integrated for cloud-based collaborative education enables you to unleash the creation, sharing and communication of ideas with an online application that connects with content in Google Apps for Education and is available on any device or browser. This is available in the Apps Marketplace.
  • Blackboard Bboogle: Last year, Northwestern University presented their popular Bboogle (Blackboard + Google) application at our EDUCAUSE booth. Bboogle has now been certified by Blackboard and is available to other universities as a Building Block through Blackboard’s Extensions website. Bboogle enables instructors to link Blackboard course sites directly to Google Docs, Calendars and Sites without requiring a second login. And by automatically setting permissions for editing, it helps encourage and facilitate collaborative instruction.
  • Desire2Learn: Users will soon be able to add widgets to Course Homepages that make it easy to view unread email messages in Gmail, keep track of upcoming events in Calendar, and submit assignments created in Docs.

If you weren’t able to join us in person at this year’s EDUCAUSE conference, you can check out some of our photos, and we’ll hope to see you next year.

Google Apps highlights – 10/22/2011

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

In the spirit of helping people work better together, over the last few weeks we made big improvements to Google presentations, introduced a version of Google Docs optimized for Android tablets, and enabled more dynamic content in Google Sites. We also celebrated the fact that Silicon Valley has gone Google!

Google presentations reloaded
On Tuesday we launched a completely rebuilt version of our web-based presentations application, so you can build more beautiful presentations together with colleagues and classmates. Google presentations now lets you make great-looking slides with animated builds, advanced slide transitions and better support for drawings, tables and themes. Plus, we made it easier to create presentations with others, without the hassles of attachments. Your whole team can work together in the same version of a presentation at the same time, and you can see who’s doing what, chat with others, and see a full revision history at any moment in time.

Google Docs on Android tablets
We’ve made it faster and easier to work with Google Docs on Android tablets with a new version of the Android application that takes full advantage of larger screen real estate. The three-panel view lets you browse filters and collections, see your document list and view file thumbnails and details simultaneously. You can get the Google Docs Android app for free from the Android Market.

Charts in Google Sites
Charts are often created in spreadsheets, but sometimes you want charts to appear in other places, like your team or project sites. In Google Sites, now you can select “Chart” from the “Insert” menu, and navigate to the Google Spreadsheet where your chart or data is located. You can also choose to have your site’s chart update in real-time when someone updates the underlying spreadsheet.

New look for Google Docs and Sites
We started rolling out a new look in Google Docs a couple months ago, and now this new design is available throughout all our collaboration tools. In addition to a cleaner, simpler design, we’ve made it more clear when your files are being auto-saved and added new icons to help you see at-a-glance who your docs are shared with. You can also customize the overall “density” of screen information, a great feature if you want to fit more onto a smaller display.

Who’s gone Google?
Successful small businesses tend to stay laser-focused on improving their core businesses, without getting distracted by peripheral activities that don’t make them more competitive. For example, most small businesses don’t want to spend time or money developing in-house expertise to run email and other IT systems. Case in point: 97 percent of Business Insider’s “Silicon Valley Startups to Watch” use Google Apps.

More than 5,000 businesses and thousands of other organizations start using Google Apps every single day, and more of our customers have shared their stories recently so you can hear why. A warm welcome goes out to Philz Coffee, Mid-Atlantic Door Group, Bradford & Barthel, LLP and the City of Mesquite, Nevada.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Google Apps highlights – 9/23/2011

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

It’s back-to-school season, and we’ve made Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar and Sites easier to use and more powerful for students and non-students alike—including some important accessibility improvements to help blind users be productive in our apps.

Multiple sign-in and other new preferences in Gmail for mobile
On Wednesday, we added some helpful new features for people who use Gmail on a mobile browser. You can now sign in to more than one Gmail account at a time, and toggle between them easily from the account switcher menu at the bottom of the mobile inbox. This can be a good time saver if you have multiple accounts or share a mobile device with family members. Gmail for mobile also now enables you to set up mobile-specific email signatures and create vacation responders right from your phone to let people know when you won’t be available by email.

Calling credit auto-recharge
Now you can automatically add international calling credits for phone calls in Gmail when your balance gets low. Just visit the “Billing” area of the Google Voice settings page and click “Add credit” to put your account on cruise control.

Allow people to comment but not edit in documents
Sometimes, you might find yourself in situations when you’d like to share a document for feedback, but don’t want to make the document’s content fully editable. The comment-only level of access launched last week is a nice option for these scenarios. You can let others discuss and add their thoughts to your document—without allowing them to change your work. You can allow document comments from specific individuals or groups, from anyone belonging your organization or from the general public.

Format painter, Fusion Tables, drag & drop images and vertical cell merge
Comment-only access isn’t all that we’ve added to Google Docs over the last few weeks. Other notable improvements include a text format painter in documents, which is a fast way to copy and paste font, size, color and other text styling. Spreadsheets now support vertically merged cells (in addition to horizontal merges). In drawings, you can drag images from your desktop to the drawing canvas, then continue editing your graphic. We also added Fusion Tables as a new document type in the documents list. Fusion Tables are a powerful way to gather, visualize and collaborate on large data sets that might be unwieldy in a typical spreadsheet.

Fusion Table data visualized on an interactive map

Accessibility improvements in Google Calendar, Docs and Sites
We think technology can do a better job getting out of people’s way and helping you be more productive with less complexity and fewer frustrations. In this spirit, we’ve recently made a series of improvements to make our applications more accessible to blind users. We have more work to do, but Google Calendar, Docs and Sites now offer better support for screen readers and improved keyboard shortcuts. We hope these changes make our applications more useful to all users.

Who’s gone Google?
Organizations are moving to Google Apps for a diverse set of reasons—including cost savings, streamlined teamwork and better mobile access. We’ve even started hearing from schools and businesses who have made the switch to reduce their impact on the environment. No two organizations choose Google Apps for the exact same reasons, but in total, the momentum of Google Apps keeps growing.

We recently shared the news that 61 of the top 100 universities ranked by U.S. News and World Report have gone Google. On the business side, there are now more than 4 million companies using Google Apps, and businesses are joining at a rate of over 5,000 per day. In all, there are more than 40 million users that regularly use Google Apps in their organizations.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Enhanced accessibility in Docs, Sites and Calendar

This fall, as classrooms fill with the hustle and bustle of a new semester, more students than ever will use Google Apps to take quizzes, write essays and talk to classmates. Yet blind students (like blind people of all ages) face a unique set of challenges on the web. Members of the blind community rely on screen readers to tell them verbally what appears on the screen. They also use keyboard shortcuts to do things that would otherwise be accomplished with a mouse, such as opening a file or highlighting text.

Over the past few months, we’ve worked closely with advocacy organizations for the blind to improve our products with more accessibility enhancements. While our work isn’t done, we’ve now significantly improved keyboard shortcuts and support for screen readers in several Google applications, including Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Calendar. Business, government and education customers can also learn more about these updates on the Enterprise blog.

In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll continue to improve our products for blind users. We believe that people who depend on assistive technologies deserve as rich and as productive an experience on the web as sighted users, and we’re working to help that become a reality.

For more information on these accessibility changes, using Google products with screen readers, how to send us feedback and how to track our progress, visit google.com/accessibility.

Tradition meets technology: top universities using Apps for Education

Pop quiz: What’s significant about the number 61?

(a) Number of points required to win a standard game of Cribbage
(b) The country code to call Australia
(c) Number of Top 100 universities that use Google Apps for Education

As all Aussie Cribbage enthusiasts attending college in the U.S. may suspect, this is actually a trick question—all three answers are correct!

Today, U.S. News and World Report released their 28th annual ranking of the top higher-education institutions across the nation. While this list of schools represents traditions of academic excellence that span centuries, these institutions also clearly recognize the importance (and value) of modern technology in academia. We’re thrilled that 61 of this year’s top 100 universities have chosen Google Apps for Education to help improve communication and collaboration on campus.

We’re proud to see such historic institutions moving to the world of 100% web. Here are just a few of the schools from this year’s “Top 100” that have gone Google:

  • Yale University
  • Northwestern University
  • Brown University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Southern California
  • Wake Forest University
  • William and Mary
  • Brandeis University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • University of Maryland
  • Boston University
  • Rutgers University
  • Clemson University
  • University of Minnesota

To show our appreciation to these great schools, and to help students better explore and evaluate their college options, we’re providing a year’s worth of free access to the U.S. News complete rankings for anyone who registers before Friday, September 16. Just sign up and you’re all set.

Finally, it’s not just about who is using Google Apps. We’re also interested in how students and staff are using Google tools to do amazing things inside and outside the classroom. Since 61 is the magic number, we’ve compiled 61 stories directly from students, faculty and staff at these universities: www.google.com/apps/top100schools.

These 61 schools represent just a small portion of the 14 million students, faculty and staff now using Google Apps for Education. All over the world, Google Apps is helping schools offer their communities a better way of working together, and we’re honored to be a part of this new tradition.