Google Apps is Google’s umbrella term for their web-based productivity and communication applications. These include Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs, and Google Sites. They, and the documents you create with them, are accessible from any web browser. The flexibility this creates means they are a good candidate for an off-the-shelf solution to your offsite productivity needs. Additionally, many Google Apps have some features derived from revision control systems for developers, allowing easy and seamless long-distance collaboration. Now, let us examine some of these products in more detail to see what features are particularly useful:
Gmail and Google Talk
Aside from the extremely generous storage limits Google provides – 25GB at the time of writing – there are a good deal of other reasons to use Gmail and Google Talk:
- Support for simultaneous attachment opening – you will no longer experience lockouts.
- Top notch security – options include forced SSL, 2-step verification, and single sign-ons.
- Superb reliability – Google Apps manages 99.99% availability (that’s 5 minutes of downtime per year).
Google Docs is Google’s web-based Microsoft Office killer. Taking a diametrically opposite approach to Office and similar suites, Docs cuts out all the fluff and nonsense that makes Office a burden on IT departments. Here’s some more information:
- Document sharing is an integral feature of the design. It is effortless to share a document with someone – a couple of mouse clicks and the first few letters of their email address if they’re already a contact – and you can see what your collaborators are writing, letter by letter.
- Incremental, user-focused updates and upgrades mean you don’t need to stay encumbered with an old version to save money on software licenses and training.
- A presentation creator that actually promotes clean, elegant presentation design, rather than the irritating bells and whistles of other productivity suites.
- Easy and simple mobile access to documents, supported by any smartphone platform.
Google Calendar provides much of Outlook’s functionality, again without any of the needless complexity. It too is integrated with an email system – in this case of course Gmail – and doesn’t require the setup of dedicated servers. Google does that all for you. There are other features of note too:
- Overlaying multiple calendars to compare availability is incredibly easy.
- Calendars can also be shared easily, with a variety of permission control settings to protect privacy and security.
- Mobile integration is solid, and you can easily set up SMS alerts for calendar notifications.
Google Apps can provide a solid edge for your business in productivity software. We recommend them with little reservation – especially since individuals and small businesses can gain all this benefit from them for free.