Q 8. What’s all the fuss about Google Apps?

Google Apps are more than just a collection of applications for using with Chrome – together they make up a cloud-based productivity suite that helps you connect to the people you work with and collaborate on that work, from anywhere, on any device. They mirror all that is good about Google, and Google Chrome, being transferable, customisable and completely cross-platform. The elements that make up Google Apps are:

Gmail iconGmail
Calendar icon
Drive icon
Docs icon
Sheets icon
Slides icon

They are what you see links to when you navigate to google.com and click on “Drive.” Over 5 million businesses use Google Apps to manage their productivity  in the cloud, and if you are having trouble understanding what they are, for those of you who are more accustomed to thinking in Microsoft terms, think Yahoo Mail, Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but with added functionality and accessibility, and you are coming close!

Being cloud-based, everything you do and every change you make to a document, spreadsheet, calendar or presentation is saved to the cloud, as are the changes made by others with whom you have shares the link to the app.

  • Gmail is the ultimate email service - powered by Google search technology it offers custom email addresses, 25GB of online storage and excellent offline support.
  • Calendar can be used to set custom reminders and to schedule collaborative or offline meetings, and to share plans in calendar format, with  detail down to the minute.
  • Docs allows you to create, update and format documents with live sharing and collaboration, and to access those documents from anywhere, on any device. Since Google Chrome does not need all the plugins and add-ons of other browsers, you do not need to have programs installed to read, edit and save documents using Google Apps - a reader and editor is built into the browser so everyone can contribute with ease.
  • With Sheets users can perform multiple edits, live, to their spreadsheets, and
  • With Slides  you have all the functionality of presentation software you could imagine, but in the cloud! All the Google APps AutoSave regularly, so every change you (or your team) make is saved automatically, spelling an end to power-cut losses or program crashes.
Of course you can use the Google Apps in other browsers, so why should you aim to use them in Chrome? Well, because then you can take advantage of the offline capabilities of Google Apps, whereas offline support doesn’t exist for other browsers. In practice, this means you will be able to access your email and compose new messages when you don’t have an internet connection, or when your connection is slow. When you reconnect, Gmail automatically sends your outbound messages. The same capability exists for the other Google Apps, where changes you make offline are automatically updated when you are back within range of a good internet connection.

A further advantage of using Google Apps with Chrome is Desktop notifications - again this is only supported in Chrome. To turn them on, click the settings link in the top right corner of Gmail and scroll down to the “Desktop Notifications” section. If you just want to be notified about chat messages, or if you use the Priority Inbox and only want to get notifications for important messages, you can customise your settings from there too. Basically, Desktop Notifications are a clever method of being notified that something important has happened.

Finally, Chrome offers the freedom to deploy modern HTML5 and cloud computing applications without worrying about legacy browsers’ ability to keep up. Since HTML5 and Google are so closely integrated with each other, developments in one mean that they will be matched by an upgrade in the other.