Google Apps highlights

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.

Today’s update includes a handful of experimental features, a bunch from third-party developers and one that lets you build new features yourself. Enjoy!

Fast new windows in Gmail
Working with email in a single window can slow you down, so throughout Gmail there are places where you can launch what you’re doing into a new window and accomplish two things at once. For example, you can search your inbox and compose a new message at the same time. While this has been part of Gmail for a while now, we’ve just made it better by dramatically speeding up how quickly new windows open. No more waiting for the new window “Loading...” bar to finish — now you can do what you do in Gmail faster!

Gmail Labs updates
We’ve made a handful of updates in Gmail Labs, our experimental testing ground where Google engineers can quickly launch new Gmail features and get feedback from users. Based on usage and user feedback, six Labs have graduated to become full-fledged Gmail features: Search Autocomplete, Go To Label, Forgotten Attachment Detector, YouTube Previews, Custom Label Colors and Vacation Dates. We also retired five Labs that weren’t as popular. Finally, we introduced one new Lab: Refresh POP Accounts. If you use Gmail to retrieve messages from another email account with POP, this Lab immediately checks your other account for new mail when you click the “Refresh” link in Gmail.

Calendar Labs updates
We also have Labs in Google Calendar, and we’ve cooked up a few new experiments there as well. Event Flair lets you add custom icons to appointments, Gentle Reminders prevents event reminders from interrupting your flow in the browser and Automatically Declining Events blocks people from double-booking time on your calendar when you’re already busy.

Apps Script Gallery
Google Apps Script is a flexible system that lets you add custom menus, buttons and functions to spreadsheets, as well as make the components of Google Apps work together in new ways. For example, you can trigger a set of automated Gmail messages and add appointments to your calendar based on changes in a spreadsheet. On Wednesday, we made Google Apps Script available to everyone — not just businesses, schools and organizations — and we launched the Apps Script Gallery to share script examples and help you get started scripting.

DocVerse joins Google
We’re always looking for ways to help people transition smoothly to the cloud. With this in mind, last week we acquired DocVerse, a small team that’s built a powerful set of add-ons to help teams work together more efficiently with Microsoft Office. With DocVerse, people can begin to experience some of the benefits of web-based collaboration using the traditional Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint desktop applications that they’re familiar with. Stay tuned for more information about our plans with DocVerse.

More apps for Google Apps
Google Apps customers often decide to move even more of their technology into the cloud, but it hasn’t always been easy for them to find good web-based solutions that meet their needs and to integrate those solutions with Google Apps. This Tuesday, we launched the Google Apps Marketplace to help customers find technology from trusted providers and give developers a platform where they can sell their products. When Google Apps administrators find something they like in the Marketplace, it takes just a few clicks to integrate a developer’s application with Google Apps. Authentication to third-party applications can be handled automatically by Google Apps, and developers’ applications can integrate with and securely share data among services like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Calendar. There are more than 50 applications available in the Marketplace today, ranging from accounting and project management apps to graphic design and customer relationship management tools.

Who's gone Google?
We’re pleased to welcome another crop of new businesses and schools to Google Apps. More than 11,000 crew members at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines took flight with Google Apps, and the Sports Basement switched teams from Microsoft Exchange. National Geographic is exploring the world of real-time collaboration, and Hamilton College is learning a few new tricks with Google Apps, too.

Hope you're enjoying the latest round of new features, whether you're using Google Apps with friends and family, with colleagues or with classmates. For details and the latest news in this area, check out the Google Apps Blog.
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