March 29, 2012

A Big Day For Google: Hangouts Apps, Account Activity Reports, Maps For Android Update And Vault for Business Apps

Today (technically yesterday) Google seriously lived up to its reputation of frequently updating and improving their services. We kick this blog off by introducing the first batch of official Google+ Hangouts apps, a major step toward transparency called Account Activity, A high resolution update to Google Maps for Android, and a new business-oriented service for Google Apps customers called Vault.

Google+ Hangouts Apps

Hangouts is Google's best answer to that nagging question, "How's this different from Facebook?" And today, Google is giving us a preview of its potential. Here's the quick rundown of the new Hangouts apps:

+SlideShare - a productivity app that lets you collaborate on and share slides, documents, and spreadsheets.
+Cacoo wire-framing, mind-mapping and diagramming.
+Scoot & Doodle - draw and color with your buddies.
+Aces Hangout - practice your poker face in this brilliant combination of online poker and video chat.
Clubhouse Challenge - a pop culture trivia game.
Google Effects - try on hats, glasses, and classy mustaches with friends.

To find these, click the appropriately-names Apps button within Hangouts and have fun with mustaches, coloring and... spreadsheets!

Account Activity Reports

Google Dashboard gives us a lot of insight into how much Google really knows about us. But what if you wanted to know more? A lot more! And in an easily digestible form with simple stats such as how many searches you did or how many more emails you got this month than last month. Dive head first into your personal data by signing up for Account Activity reports. When you sign up, you will receive a monthly email telling you fun facts like which browsers you've been using the most lately. I could list every little factoid you'll find in these reports, but it's much better to check it out yourself and release your inner data junkie.

Google Maps for Android Update

Google Maps for Android has been bumped to version 6.5. Most notably this update brings support for high resolution mobile displays like those on the Galaxy Nexus or the Droid RAZR. But Google says even lower quality screens will benefit from this update.

Other enhancements include greater customization options for traveling using public transit and a new Navigation homescreen on Ice Cream Sandwich devices.

Google Apps Vault

This new service for Google Apps customers seeks to archive your data and make it more easily searchable. $5 per month per customer give you the ability to archive your documents and emails and easily search for them. The stated goal of this service is to "help protect your business and reduce the costs of litigation, regulatory investigation and compliance actions."