Google Apps highlights – 3/25/2011

Better discussions in Google documents
Productive discussions can help teams write better documents, and last Wednesday we introduced improvements to how you can converse about documents within Google Docs. Profile pictures and timestamps make it easy to see who made a comment and when, and you can direct a comment to someone using an @mention. You can follow discussions with notifications right in your inbox—and even continue a discussion from your inbox by replying to the notification email. Instead of deleting a discussion when it’s wrapped up to remove clutter, you can now mark discussions as resolved so you can go back later and see how the discussion played out.

Data filtering, new chart options and more in Google spreadsheets
We’ve added a heap of frequently requested features to Google spreadsheets over the last few weeks. First, you can now filter spreadsheet data to hone in on rows that match criteria you set as filter options. For example, a sales manager could choose to view transactions processed by Peter and Phil, but not those managed by Andrew, Cindy and the rest of the sales team.

We’ve also improved charting in spreadsheets by making it possible to plot non-contiguous data. Multiple chart ranges help you create great charts without rearranging your data.

In addition, you can now hide cell gridlines or entire sheets in Google spreadsheets—giving your spreadsheets a cleaner look by removing extraneous formatting and data from view until you need it at a later time.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office
As we continue to add functionality to Google Docs, many people are finding that that they no longer need software-based word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. And now we also have an alternative for people who want streamlined collaboration but aren’t quite ready for 100% web productivity tools. Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office brings multi-person editing, automatic backup and complete revision history to Microsoft Word®, Excel® and PowerPoint® in Microsoft Office® 2003, 2007 and 2010. By bringing this functionality to existing versions of Microsoft Office, organizations can work more efficiently with the software that they’ve already paid for and implemented.

Smart Labels in Gmail Labs
Chances are, you get lots of email from newsletters, group mailing lists, account alerts and other automated systems. These messages aren’t spam, but they’re probably not your most important emails either. To help you separate and organize these kinds of messages, we introduced the Smart Labels feature in Gmail Labs. Once you turn on this feature from the Labs tab in Gmail settings, Gmail will automatically categorize incoming Bulk, Forum and Notification messages and label them appropriately, removing clutter in your inbox to help your most important messages stand out.

Improved attachment viewing in Gmail
We’ve also made viewing attachments in Gmail faster, easier, more affordable and more secure by adding browser-based attachment viewing for 12 more file types: .XLS, .XLSX, .PPTX, .PAGES, .AI, .PSD, .DXF, .SVG, .EPS, .PS, .TTF and .XPS. So instead of downloading attachments and then opening files with software you may or may not have for each format, you can just click the “View” link next to the attachment in Gmail. This will instantly display the attachment in your browser—no software required.

Collaboration dashboard for Google Apps customers
To help customers see the productivity benefits of Google Apps at a glance, we recently introduced a new collaboration dashboard. From the Google Apps administrative control panel, IT managers can view insights about how their users are working together with Google Docs. This dashboard offers a new level of transparency that traditional software can’t offer, and we think this kind of information will help businesses invest in technologies that actually get put to use, not software that—according to customers—sometimes sits idle after being installed.

New Google Apps release process
Our customers love Google Apps for lots of reasons, but the ability to rapidly get new features—like the ones described in this post—without having to install complex patches or upgrades rises to the top. Instead of large, disruptive batches of new features that only come every few years, people see a continuous stream of better functionality week after week. Still, some customers with more complex IT environments have asked for a bit more advanced notice so they can prepare for what’s coming. For these organizations, we’ve introduced a new release process for Google Apps features. Customers can choose to get new features immediately when they’re available, or have at least a week to prepare for new features after they’re initially introduced. Along with this new choice, we’ve launched whatsnew.googleapps.com, where customers can learn more about new features in the process of being released.

Who’s gone Google?
The pace of new customers coming onto Google Apps continues to accelerate among schools, businesses and other organizations. In the world of education, we’re happy to welcome the University of Alberta, Anhanguera Educational and thousands of other schools to Google Apps. In fact, over 50 percent of the NCAA® Championship bracket has gone Google!

We also invite you to read how businesses and government agencies including Dominion Enterprises, Macomb County Circuit Court and Clerk, Revevol, Mad Genius, Cadillac Fairview, Sun Windows, Hammock and The Standard Agency are saving money and helping workers be more productive with Google Apps, joining more than 3 million other businesses that have gone Google.

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.

Posted by Jeremy Milo, Google Apps Marketing Manager    Permalink