Google Apps for Business offers a suite of cloud-base productivity applications. One of the biggest is email – everyone uses email, everyone needs a good email provider and reliable access to their mail on the go. Google have been providing email services since at least 2005 – their personal webmail service, Gmail, has almost half a billion users, so they know what they’re doing.
Google Apps email is accessible across a wide range of devices and email clients – ipads, Macs, PCs, Outlook, Linux, etc. A lot of business users are most experienced with Outlook, previously the de facto mail client in the workplace. For customers with existing licenses for Outlook we can deploy the Google Apps Sync Tool for MS Outlook which provides a rich, Exchange-like functionality on Outlook. Crucially for some, the workforce get to continue using the familiar Microsoft Office tools to handle their email. Where Microsoft Outlook licenses are not available, we encourage users to try working on the Google Apps browser interface.
Using the browser interface to access Google Apps email offers a number of benefits, such as:
- Consistent user experience across different computers / locations
- Instant saving of £100+ per user in Microsoft Outlook licensing costs
- Very powerful search capabilities – (hint: Google began as a search engine…)
- Customisable interface – group emails by read/unread, importance or labels, view conversations or individual emails, even write cleanup scripts to manage your mail!
As with Outlook (and others) users can personalise their mailbox and view their email in a way that works for them. For example, I’m a big fan of Google’s ‘conversation view’, which presents threaded emails so you can see the chain of messages back-and-forth, but the other day someone said to me “I really don’t like the way the replies stack up under the original email, maybe using the web interface isn’t for me.” They didn’t realise that this feature could be turned on and off (Settings > General > Conversation View > On/Off), indeed almost all display features can be changed to suit how you work.
Some of the features are pure gold – you get a warning dialogue if you forget to attach files to your email:
And you can use the Undo Send lab to give you the option of recalling an email if you hit ‘Send’ and then realise that you’ve got the recipient / content /spelling wrong:
These are just a few of the features I find useful – expect to hear more in this blog about Filters, Labels, Contact management and all the other things you need to become a Gmail power user.