Google today announced it's giving administrators an extra layer of security to user logins by implementing a two-step authentication process that requires a combination of a password and a verification code via the users' mobile phones.
"Google Apps Premier, Education, and Government Edition administrators can now have users sign in with the combination of their password (something they know) and a one-time verification code provided by a mobile phone (something they have)," Google announced in a blog post. "Users can continue to access Google Apps from Internet-connected devices, but with stronger protections to help fend off risks like phishing scams and password reuse."
Google promises to also port this two-step authentication over to Google Apps Standard Edition in the "coming months," giving hundreds of millions of individual Google users access to greater security.
In the same blog post, Google also announced new mobile editing capabilities for Google Docs on the iPad and Android platform, which it says it plans to roll out in the next few weeks.
Google has always touted the collaboration capabilities of its web-based Docs suite. This obviously means that it has something to talk about every time it rolls out a new feature to enhance this particular ability. It has now added “collaborative highlighting” to Docs, which lets users “see the text that other editors are highlighting as they select it.”
According to Peter Solderitsch, a Google Software Engineer, “writing a document collaboratively in Google Docs is like playing a team sport. It’s one thing to see your co-editors’ cursors and know where they are. But to really work well together, it helps to know what they’re about to do. Today we’ve made it much easier to anticipate the changes other editors are about to make.”
Back in April, it launched a new version of Docs with many new real-time collaboration features.
But Premiere and Education Edition users will have to first ensure that their domain administrator has enabled Google Labs from the Google Apps control panel. “Once the lab is enabled, the “Search Mail” button in Gmail will say 'Search Mail and Docs' instead. When you run a search in Gmail, your search results will include matching documents and sites in addition to results from your email,” Google said in a blog post.
Google pulled off a coup last year when it was awarded a contract worth $7.25 million by the City of Los Angeles to move 30,000 employees to its cloud-based email solution. It was a huge triumph not only because CSC’s (Computer Sciences Corporation) proposal for Google Apps – both companies have joined forces for this project – was picked from 15 proposals but also due to the fact that Microsoft was among those snubbed. This was seen as an alarming development for Microsoft’s popular Office productivity suite.
Google and CSC’s victory celebrations are long over and the June 30 deadline history, but so far only 10,000 city employees have been moved to Google apps while the rest, including 13,000 L.A.P.D members, are still stuck with a traditional email solution provided by Novell. The delay stems from the security concerns raised by the Los Angeles Police Department, which is particularly worried about data encryption.
"We've had a lot of technical issues, some we've created and some we haven't," said Los Angeles CTO Randi Levin. "We underestimated the amount of time it was going to take." According to a MarketWatch report, the two companies have agreed to compensate the city for all costs it incurs during the course of the delay.
A few years back Apple had success with a series of 'switcher" ads where people told their stories about switching to the (supposedly) problem free land of Macintosh. Now Microsoft is trying the same maneuver with businesses and Google Apps. The thing is, they're actually having some success.
The Google Apps online service is a competitor to Microsoft's own Office products. Microsoft's gameplan is to attract companies to their Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), then highlight all these companies in order to attract more. A long time Google Apps customer, Serena Software, was one of the first to make the switch thanks to a sweetheart deal from Microsoft.
Several other big Google customers, like Capgemini and China Navigation have been enticed to join the dark side. Microsoft says companies are willing to make the switch because BPOS offers more advanced features, like Group Policy Management. Even if Microsoft can lure away some Apps customers, we think Google will soldier on.
The Marketplace contains apps from 50 companies, including eFax, Concur, Intuit, and Jobvite. The applications are tightly coupled with Google Apps, allowing seamless integration with Gmail, Calendar, and Docs. Vic Gundotra, a vice president of engineering at Google, says “The Applications Marketplace makes it easy for domain administrators to discover and install new software and have it integrated into Google Apps.”
Google charges developers $100 for placing an application in the Marketplace, and keeps 20 percent of the proceeds. Developers are free to name their own price for their applications. Google doesn’t expect to get rich(er) from the Marketplace, rather it's looking for the Marketplace to promote Google Apps and the software applications of its partners.
Google claims 25 million Google Apps users, in more than two million businesses. Google concedes, however, that only “hundreds of thousands” are paying customers.
Email goes back a long way. And so too, perhaps, do your archives. If you happen to be one of those obsessive savers of email, then Google’s newly announced Email Uploader might just be of interest to you.
If you’ve got a lot of email history odds are it’s in a number of different formats. Putting it all into a single format, and in a single location, would be a boon, especially if you have the need to dredge back through them from time-to-time. The Email Uploader lets you “push your archives” up to your Google Apps email account, where they’ll float away on the cloud until you need them. And, as an added bonus, you’ll be able to access them anywhere you can get on the Internet.
The Email Uploader for Windows, however, is limited to moving your Outlook archives (2003 and greater) up to the cloud. The Mac client, on the other hand, will let you load archives from Apple Mail, Eudora, and Thunderbird. And, Google warns us, this will only work for a Google Apps email account--not for gmail.com or googlemail.com accounts.
We all know Google has a lot of information about us. Now there’s a way to have all that data laid out before you in terrifying detail. Google Dashboard is the search giant’s new site aimed at increasing user control over personal information.
The Dashboard is available in your account settings page (or just go here), and kept behind an additional sign-in page. Once logged in, you’ll see all the Google services you use along with a summary of its use. There is currently support of more than 20 Google services including Gmail, Latitude, Google Voice, Google Docs, Gtalk, YouTube and Picasa.
Google offers quick access to the settings for each service if you’re not happy with the information being stored. So, feel better?
Check out Google's video overview after the break!
The benefits of Google Wave are yet to be seen by the mass public. Google released an internal developer sandbox earlier this year and eventually rolled out a consumer preview to 100k users in September. Now, Google has announced its next step in the rollout process: the federation sandbox.
Federated distribution models mean that companies can build and host their own Google Wave servers and integrate them with other servers. The features and promises from Google about Wave’s capabilities mean that corporate collaboration will take on a whole new meaning. This next step, allowing corporations to control their own servers, means that Wave will more likely be adopted into business use.
The federation sandbox is strictly experimental for the current time. They have released about 40k lines of code for inspection and the Wave Federation Protocol and Conversation model. They have also demoed a terminal based Wave client.
Los Angeles City Council approved a deal which will roll out Gmail and Google Apps to about 30,000 employees throughout the city.
"The City of Los Angeles, the second largest city in the nation, made a world-class decision today to support a state-of-the-art e-mail system," said Tony Cardenas an L.A. City Councilman. Most of the concerns regarding the switch surrounded privacy, stability, and cost.
Google and the city of Los Angeles cut a deal that if there was a “significant data breach” in which employee information was stolen or viewed Google would pay damage compensation. There should be obvious cost savings in moving away from onsite infrastructure as well as stability improvements moving the services into the cloud.
Have you, or your company made the switch? What are your thoughts on the Google Apps system?