Google Applications Grow Up (Part 2)

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google-lego-logoGoogle’s products have always been terrific, but in recent months the internet juggernaut has made unbelievable progress in developing its offerings.  Computer Courage strongly recommends many Google products such as Gmail, Search, Picasa, Calendar, and more.  For businesses, we’ve been strong supporters (and users) of Google’s business-class mail/calendar/document system Google Apps (if you run a business, and you don’t know about Google Apps, call us immediately – there is a lot to learn!)

Recently, Google has made some really important improvements to its services, and we’d like to outline a few of them for our loyal readers today.  There are so many fantastic features that we are splitting this newsletter into two parts.  In our second installtion of “Google Applications Grow Up” we’ll explore more powerful and time saving features for you and your businesses.

Wirelessly Synchronize your Contacts and Calendar to Your Phone
Almost any smartphone in the world can now wirelessly synchronize contacts and calendar data with Google (mail sync been possible for a while now).  This means you have all of your information on the go, all of your information is backed up by Google, and you never have to dock or sync your phone again for data sync purposes.  We’ve been waiting for this one for a while, and now it’s a reality.

For BlackBerry, open up your BlackBerry web browser and go to  Install both the Google Mobile App and the Gmail App.  Run them, enter your Gmail or Google Apps account, and BOOM – all of your contacts, messages, and calendar information are instantly available to you.

For the iPhone, you can set up your mail account as an IMAP account (guide).  Now, you can set up your calendar and your contacts separately.  Essentially, Google accomplishes this by “tricking” the iPhone into believing the Google is a Microsoft Exchange server.  This process is not too hard, but take caution – if you don’t carefully back up according to the instructions, you can lose your iPhone’s contacts.  Be careful and call us if you have any questions about this process – here’s the guide.

If you have any other smartphone, Google has their usual quality support information online here.

More Great New Gmail Functions

Google can’t stop adding new features.  These new features, called “Google Labs” are great opportunities to try new functionality.  Explore Gmail labs by logging into Gmail and clicking Settings, then clicking the Labs tab. Check out some of our favorites:

Mail Goggles – Avoid accidental “happy” emailing by enabling Goggles.  If Google suspects you’re not in your normal state of mind, it will force you to answer math questions before sending!
Forgotten Attachment Detector – How many times have we all forgotten to attach our attachments?  Google scans your message for mention of an attachment, and checks to see if there is one.  If not, it warns you before sending the message.
Multiple Inboxes – The name is a bit misleading, but this function allows you to watch multiple folders (labels) in Gmail from your inbox.  Put the main inbox on the left, and see other folders (family, business, etc.) on the right hand side at the same time.  This is particularly good if you use filters.
Signature Tweaks – Add “signature float”, which puts your signature above the quoted response text when you reply to someone.  Simple but helpful.

Google Apps – Google For Business
I mentioned this last week, but can’t reiterate it enough.  If you run a business and have talked to us in the last year, we’ve probably mentioned Google Apps.  Google Apps is a phenomenal and free tool for businesses that provides reliable, secure, and powerful IT solutions to businesses (including Computer Courage) for free.  Features include Gmail (with all the features I’ve listed above) for everyone, shared calendar (which syncs to phones and Outlook), chat, easy adding/removing of users, shared documents, and more.  This is a seriously powerful and valuable tool for any business, from one person to a large corporation.  If you haven’t talked to us about Google Apps, we highly recommend you give us a call, we’ll tell you all about how it can save you time and money and help your business grow.  This is an essential tool for any business, don’t miss out.

Don’t forget to read Part 1 of this entry here.

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