Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Posted: 18 Jul 2011 11:58 AM PDT
Posted by Jeremy Milo, Google Apps Marketing Manager

Google Apps has come a long way since its introduction a few years ago, with continuous improvements every week rather than disruptive shifts every few years. It’s like watching your kids grow up; you don’t notice the changes from day to day, but look back at a photo from last year and the differences can be striking.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll take a look back to revisit key innovations from the last few years in four categories that define Google Apps: team collaboration, mobile productivity, ease of use, and trustworthiness. Today we’re starting with Gmail and Google Calendar, and many of the capabilities below have become customer favorites. If you’d like to hear more about these developments, we invite you to join our webinaron Wednesday (details below).

Designed for Teams
Google Apps makes working in teams easier. Gmail and Google Calendar support teamwork in ways that traditional applications just can’t offer. Give these features a try if they’re new to you, or take a fresh look if it’s been a while:
  • Have an instant message conversation right from your inbox, and once you’re chatting, switch to a voice, video or group chat. It all works in the browser, not in another application.
  • When a contact isn’t online to chat, call their phone right from Gmail with your computer’s speakers and microphone.
  • Gmail helps you connect with the right people when you send traditional email messages, too, with full-fledged capabilities first tested as Labs features. By analyzing signals in your email, Gmail recommends recipients you might have forgotten, and displays a warning when you might have added the wrong person.
  • Once you’ve started an email conversation, Gmail’s people widget shows how you’ve interacted with recipients recently over email, in meetings and through shared documents.
  • Google Apps supports over 40 languages, and automatic translation can really help break down language barriers. Gmail’s message translation feature instantly converts foreign text to your native language. Translation bots provide real-time translation in chat, so you can even IM with people in other languages.
  • Finding a good meeting time with a group of busy people can be a chore, so we introduced the smart scheduler in Google Calendar Labs. This tool automatically explores everyone’s schedule to find the best times when attendees can all get together.
  • Appointment slots also simplifies meeting scheduling by letting you establish open meeting times that other people in your organization can sign themselves up for, like “office hours”.
  • Once you’ve set up a meeting, we know there’s often meeting-related content to be shared with attendees. The event attachments Lab in Google Calendar lets you add Google Docs files to meetings, so everyone has the right information at their fingertips.
  • And sometimes you just need help managing email, contacts and calendar, and that’s where account delegation comes into play. Gmail and Google Calendar allow you to designate others who can manage your email, appointments and contacts on your behalf.

Productive Anywhere
Communication tools wouldn’t be much good if you were required to work from your desk, which is why we support full access to email, contacts and calendar on any modern browser and all major mobile device platforms.

Simple & Affordable
We built Gmail and Google Calendar to stay out of your way and help you handle tasks quickly. At $50 per user per year or $5 per month with no commitment, Google Apps packs a powerful punch in an intuitive package that anyone can use.
  • With 25GB of email storage for every employee, the ability to handleattachments up to 20MB apiece and room for 25,000 contacts, Gmail is designed so you can stop worrying about account capacity and focus on more productive things.
  • With all that space for email, you need a fast and reliable way to find old messages, and the power of Google search is essential. Gmail’s search options quickly tame even the largest message archives.
  • Priority Inbox learns patterns in how you use email, and automatically filters incoming email to put the most important messages – email from your boss perhaps – right at the top. We found this feature alone saves people 6% of the time they spend on email.
  • Keeping spam out of your inbox is another big productivity booster, and Gmail's spam filters are continuously improved to weed out unsafe and unwanted messages.
  • Like the great cilantro debate, some people like their email as threaded “conversations”, while others prefer a traditional inbox displaying individual messages. You can have it either way in Gmail now, threaded or unthreaded.
  • Instead of downloading attachments and opening them with another application, Gmail lets you view over a dozen different attachment types right in your browser. It’s faster, safer and more affordable than opening attachments with other software.
  • Beyond attachments, Gmail lets you preview other types of content without leaving your inbox, like YouTube videos, Google Docs, Google Maps locations and Picasa slideshows. You can even build custom content gadgets for other types of data residing in your existing business systems.
  • Gmail also helps you avoid email snafus, like forgetting to add an attachment. You’ll see an attachment warning if it looks like you meant to send a file but didn’t add one.
  • When you write a message and immediately have sender’s regret, just use the undo send Lab to recall the message. This lets you edit and resend, or just discard the message.
  • If working with a mouse just isn’t fast enough, try Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts. You can power through your inbox faster than ever by learning a few simple keystroke combinations.
  • Google Calendar helps frequent flyers manage their appointments with time zone auto-detect. This feature recognizes where in the world you are, and automatically adjusts your schedule to reflect local time.
  • Last but not least, an oldie but a goodie: quick add in Google Calendar. Instead of filling out a form to create a new event, just summarize your event in natural language (like “Revew budget with Clark next Tuesday at 2pm”), then click “Add”.

Pure & Proven Cloud
Not only do Gmail and Google Calendar help boost productivity, they’re more reliable than traditional systems. Many customers also feel that their data is safer than ever with Google Apps.
  • Over the course of 2010, Gmail was available 99.984% of the time, and so far in 2011 we're at 99.99%. That’s less than seven minutes of downtime per month, a 40-fold improvement over traditional systems.
  • Our publicly available status dashboard offers transparency about the health of our systems, and 24x7 phone and online support is there when you need it.
  • Google goes to extensive lengths to protect the customer information in our data centers, including extensive personnel background checks, security-focused processes, advanced technology, and around-the-clock physical protection.
  • Gmail and Google Calendar have completed a SAS 70 Type II audit, and have achieved the U.S. Federal goverment’s FISMA certification.
  • With default https connections, your messages are always encrypted as they travel from your web browser to our servers. This helps protect your data by making it unreadable to others sharing your network.
  • Google Apps accounts can be further secured with 2-step verification, which requires users to sign in with something they know (their password) and something they have (their mobile phone). With verification codes available via SMS, even basic mobile phones can serve as powerful authentication devices.

As you can see, we’ve been busy making Gmail and Google Calendar better and better, so if you haven’t explored some of these recent improvements, maybe it’s time to take another look.