The Google I/O Keynote presentation was the place to be yesterday.
Millions tuned in to the live webcast to see all the latest product updates and announcements. Although Google’s annual conference mostly focused on the Android developer platform, there were plenty of awesome updates for Google Apps users announced as well. If you weren’t able to tune in, don’t worry, here is a roundup of what you missed!
Inbox by Gmail
Google Inbox is now open to everyone! The days of golden ticket invitations to use the experimental email service are over, in fact, you can try it out right now. If you want to try Inbox on your Google Apps for Work account, your Admin will still need to enable it for the domain. Be aware that the bundling functionality, although convenient for personal emails, can make emails very tough to keep track of in a work environment.
Google also revealed some of the work they have done to close the gap between Inbox and Gmail. This is important because Inbox has often been criticized as being simple to a fault, as it lacks a lot of the functionality that Gmail has had for years.
One such stride in the right direction is the ability to create email signatures in Inbox. Unfortunately, it only supports text signatures, so hold off on the fancy images for now. Undo send, which has been a Gmail Lab for quite some time, is now also available in Inbox. Still no word on the other familiar Labs making the move to the new platform.
They also announced the following minor updates to Inbox by Gmail:
- You can now select what happens when you mark a message as “done”. Decide whether messages marked as done will be archived, which was the previous default, or deleted.
- Trip bundles, this will work similar to the flight bundles but will include all information about your trip beyond just the airline confirmation email.
- Redirect to Inbox. Inbox users can set mail.google.com to redirect to Inbox rather than Gmail.
- Suggested reminders based on the content of the email. For example if someone emails you saying “Can you pick me up at the airport next thursday?” Inbox will suggest a reminder for that action at that time.
- A minor visual change but the left menu will now be pinned open by default.
Previously part of Google+, Photos was spun-off into its own, standalone app. Google encourages all of us to store our files and documents in Google Drive, and now they’re enticing us to store all of our photos in Photos with unlimited storage. Photos is available for iOS, Android, and the browser, and has some amazing new features like Auto-organization (using locations, times and face recognition) and the ability to share a link to a collection of photos.
Oddly enough, the most useful feature may not have even been mentioned during the keynote. According to Business Insider, Photos has the ability to detect duplicate versions of your photos and suggest which ones should be deleted, possibly saving valuable data on your device.
- You can now set repeating reminders to keep track of things, like a reminder to file expenses at the end of each month.
- Location based reminders. Set your grocery list to pop up when you walk into the grocery store.
- Keep reminders will now also show in Google Inbox, although they are view only.
Aimed at developing countries where internet connection is not as reliable, Maps can now be saved for offline navigation, with turn-by-turn direction, and search.
Other notable updates
- Google Expeditions is a new app for Cardboard, the virtual reality headset, that allows teachers to take their students on virtual field trips.
- Self Driving cars will start taking test drives on public roads.
- Android Pay allows you to use your Android phone to pay for items in stores via NFC chip.
It was interesting to see such attention paid to some of the smaller members of the Google Apps family. Things like Google Keep and Google Inbox, which have much smaller usage numbers than Gmail and Drive stole the show. While we didn’t see a huge update to one of the major platforms, constant improvement in the smaller tools is always encouraging as an Apps user.