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No big-bang Apps news at I/O, but some announcements merit attention

Juan Carlos Perez | May 20, 2013
Apps, Google's flagship product for enterprise IT, had a minor presence at this week's I/O developer conference, but some announcements at the show and in prior weeks deserve attention from customers of the cloud email and collaboration suite.

In addition, an announcement at I/O about improvements to the Google Plus social network, including a redesign of its interface, could be of interest to Apps administrators who have turned that service on for their users. Google Plus isn't officially part of Google Apps, which means it's not subject to the uptime guarantees and other terms that govern the suite's core applications. However, since August of last year, Google has been adding features for Apps administrators and for people who use it at work, and it's expected that at some point Google Plus will be formally added to the Apps suite.

"Inside the enterprise, there's a lot of value in all the Plus features, but there are concerns, the number one being that Plus isn't an official part of Apps for Business," said Tom Austin, a Gartner analyst who attended I/O.

Austin was struck by the fruits of the ongoing efforts at Google, spearheaded by CEO Larry Page, to streamline and unify the company's product roster and provide a consistent, single, integrated cloud experience. "It's one experience, one set of tools. They all work with each other," he said.

Austin also sees great potential value for enterprises in Google's focus on automated "personal assistance" features as provided by services such as Google Now. This type of technology can make workers significantly more efficient, productive and effective, he said.

"It can help them prioritize their day, pay attention to the right things and ignore the toasts popping up on email," he said. "It can help people to focus and concentrate to find relevant information they didn't know they needed to have. I'm thrilled Google is heading down this path."


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