(Cross-posted on the Google Drive blog.)

With Google Drive, you can do more than just create, store, and share stuff. A variety of apps can help with everything from editing spreadsheets to signing documents electronically.

Forms let you easily create questionnaires and automatically collect responses in a spreadsheet. Today a new version launches, rebuilt to bring you a faster, cleaner, and more collaborative experience.

Now with collaboration 
Create a form faster than ever. Just as with Docs, Sheets and Slides, you can now collaborate with others in real-time. If you need to work with two colleagues on a survey, all three of you can work on the same form simultaneously and even have a group chat on the side, without leaving the form.

Better editing 
Even if you’re working solo, some new changes will make creating and editing forms easier. All your changes are auto-saved and you can quickly undo/redo edits. Improved copy-and-paste will let you copy a list of bullets from the web or multiple rows of text from a spreadsheet; then, when you paste into a form, each line will be appear as an individual answer. And you can use keyboard shortcuts to get things done more quickly.

Some things unchanged 
With the new Forms editor, you can continue using all the features you’re already familiar with:

  • Scale: Whether you’re collecting responses from ten friends for a baby shower or ten thousand attendees at a conference, you can count on Forms to reliably collect data for any number of responses. 
  • Analyzing: See the responses you’ve received right in Google Forms or collect them neatly in Google Sheets. And you can now download a .csv file for more detailed analysis and reporting. 
  • Sharing: If you share a form directly in Google+, anyone in your circles can respond without leaving their stream. Or if you send a form via email, respondents can submit their answers right from Gmail.

This update to Forms will be rolling out to Rapid Release over the next few days, and to Scheduled Release in the coming weeks. You can create forms directly from Google Sheets or Drive, or install the Chrome Web App for easy access from your browser. Also check the Google Drive +page all week for tips and tricks.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Lachlan Tidmarsh, Chief Information Officer for the Chicago Public Schools, the third largest school district in the United States. Chicago is one of many districts that have moved to Google Apps for Education. Join the Google team at FETC and BETT this week to learn more.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is a diverse learning community that encompasses 681 schools, including 472 elementary schools, 106 high schools and 96 charter schools. With over 40,000 teachers, administrators and support staff across the city working to improve the education of Chicago children, communication and collaboration are essential.

Technology can play a vital role in making the teaching and learning experience as effective and rewarding as possible. For years CPS relied on two different communication systems—Microsoft Outlook used by administrators and principals, and OpenText FirstClass used by our teachers. Even after federal subsidies, our cost to run these systems exceeded $2 million per year. Having two different systems was frustrating for users and remote access was clunky.

After deciding to move to a single consolidated system, we vetted our two final options—Google and Microsoft— with our teachers and administrators. The decision was overwhelmingly to go with Google Apps for Education. For one thing, many of our schools were already using Google Apps and were enthusiastic about the collaboration capabilities. From an executive management viewpoint, Google Apps would save the district millions of dollars each year. Who could argue with that?

Of course, we had to ensure that the applications were secure, that they met our functional requirements, and that our people were productive on day one. We engaged Google Apps partner SADA Systems to help with the migration and training, and set a goal of finishing before the start of the 2012 school year. Between March 28, when we signed the contract, and August 20, we migrated 270,000 administrators, teachers and students to Google Apps. It was easily the fastest and smoothest migration of this scale I have ever seen.

We had staffed up our help desk but had very low call volumes and little drama. The real key to this was strong communication from the get-go and well-planned training. We established “Google Heroes” in each school to lead the charge. Our “Heroes” were critical to ensuring we had at least one trained user in each school from day one. As a result, many of our teachers and principals knew what was coming and when. We also offered a variety of additional training options for faculty and staff, including online tutorials, blogs, and classroom-based instruction. In follow-up surveys of trainees, we received satisfaction levels of 80% and higher for both the training and the tools.

When school started in fall, many teachers immediately began sharing assignments with students through Google Drive. As the year progresses, they continue to find new ways to enhance the educational experience inside and outside the classroom using Google Apps. For example, some teachers create daily quizzes in Google Forms to determine if students have understood key concepts and adapt the next day’s lesson plan accordingly. In the case of a major weather event such as a snowstorm, we can use Google Apps to efficiently coordinate school operations and make sure students know where they can go to for safety.

For Chicago Public Schools, Google Apps is fundamentally transforming both educational and administrative processes for the better – all while saving us millions of dollars each year.

Goodwill Industries’ mission is to give people an opportunity in life that they may not otherwise have, like a job or better education. As one of the larger Goodwill organizations, we at Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana aim to run as efficiently as possible to best serve our 3,000 employees spread across 29 countries and the greater Indiana community.

When I joined the company in 2010, we were running Microsoft® Exchange 2003 and we badly needed an upgrade. As a CIO, the last thing I want is to tell the executive staff we have to spend two months and thousands of dollars to upgrade our email system. We chose Google Apps because we wanted a cloud solution that gave us leaner infrastructure, better business capabilities, and security. We saved tens of thousands of dollars, and avoided future costs from server maintenance, upgrade costs and lost time dealing with email problems.

Since moving to Google Apps, we’ve changed how we communicate and collaborate with our 1,200 business users. Google Forms and Sheets in Google Drive have been powerful tools for us. Our Corporate Connectivity Committee – a cross-functional group spanning four different business areas – used a Google Form to collect research during a six-month tour of our 70 locations into a Google Sheet. They were able to analyze results and find the best ways to distribute information to employees and make them feel more included the company. This would’ve been a messy process before, compiling 70 different questionnaires. I also use Google Sites for my personal dashboard to collect, maintain, and organize data. I spent about four months trying to piece this together on our old platform, but it never worked. On Google Sites we had it working in about 20 minutes. It updates in real time so my monthly report is a 5-minute task instead of a month-long project.

Google+ Hangouts have also transformed the way our teams connect. Our Benefits Committee used Hangouts instead of traveling to attend in-person meetings about a new payroll system and benefits structure. Additionally, our recruiting team uses Hangouts for interviews – again, saving driving time without sacrificing the face-to-face relationships with candidates. I personally use Hangouts for my weekly meetings with my staff when I am working from home. Using video makes the meetings much more cohesive, and we can work simultaneously in shared Docs so we’re all on the same page.

As a CIO, the best part about moving to Google Apps is seeing the adoption happen organically – the first time a Google Doc was shared with me, it came from outside of IT. Google Apps has helped us immensely, allowing us to take our focus off of internal processes and problems and put it instead on those who really need it.

Editor's note: Today’s blog post is from POSCO (formerly Pohang Iron and Steel Company), a multinational steel-making company headquartered in Pohang, South Korea. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

For more than 40 years, POSCO has been a pillar of economic development in Korea. Now the fifth largest steel company in the world, our organization has seen dramatic growth and we are proud of our extraordinary productivity and ongoing innovation. While we are well-known in our community and throughout the world for our steel works, we are also committed to effectively managing, inspiring and growing our workforce. Without our employees, the steel and other products wouldn’t be possible.

Our POSPIA 3.0 Smart Workplace initiative is just one of ways we are ensuring that our employees are engaged, empowered and given every opportunity to succeed in the global business environment. Smart Workplace launched on December 10, 2012 with key partnerships from Google and other technology providers.

As a part of this initiative, we have invested in tools like the Google Search Appliance and Google Apps. Google Apps has made it possible for POSCO to offer the right blend of technology to facilitate better collaboration, productivity and efficiency in the workplace. With tools like Gmail, Calendar, Google+ Hangouts and shared docs on Google Drive, our employees are working together more frequently and with better results. We are no longer tied to the traditional top down approach to management. Instead, with Google Apps, our organization has more flexibility to work together at all levels within the company and collaborate easily and effectively across businesses and borders. We want the entire POSCO family of companies to benefit from this way of working together, and we plan to roll out Google Apps to our family companies in the future.

POSCO Smart Workplace launch December 10, 2012. POSCO employees moved to Google Apps and the revamped POSCO Enterprise Portal went online with the Google Search Appliance.

One of the most exciting benefits we have seen is around real time collaboration within teams using Calendar. Previously, coordination meant using manual spreadsheet or colored paper Post-It notes. Now, employees can not imagine living without the ability to visualize a day, week or month and easily coordinate schedules, meetings and teams.

The Google Search Appliance (GSA) has also helped productivity, letting employees find information and search through over 10 million documents. Before we implemented GSA, many of our office employees would have difficulty finding the right information. Now the search results are fast, and most importantly - relevant to what they are searching for.

POSCO is steeped in great tradition, but we also recognize the need to evolve both in how we run our business and how we engage the workforce that keeps our business running. Google Apps and GSA are helping us manage our technology evolution so that we can continue to innovate and provide the materials that make up the world’s infrastructure.

Update Jan 31: minor edits made to post.


Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Bill Schechtman, IT Director at Quixote Studios, a Los Angeles-based company that rents stages, vehicles and production supplies for photo shoots and movie and TV productions. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Quixote Studios, we work with the bleeding edge of American pop culture. We’ve hosted pop legends like Madonna, brought Jay-Z’s “On To The Next One” to life, and stood in for countless precinct offices, crime scenes and killers’ hideouts on the CBS show “Criminal Minds.” We have more than 200 employees at six locations giving studios what they need to make movies, helping photographers and fashion houses make their clothes look stunning, and playing a part in bringing the television shows you love to the small screen every week.

We work in a forward-leaning industry, but until we moved to Google Apps for Business, we worked with painfully outdated technology. Our server was unreliable and our employees couldn’t access email from their smartphones. Fixing these and a host of other problems was my first priority when I joined Quixote Studios as IT Director two years ago. We considered Microsoft Exchange, but the storage, licensing and support costs were more than we bargained for. We also looked at Office 365, but it didn’t offer the full suite of tools we needed or the simple pricing structure Google Apps has. So, with the help of our reseller, Dito, we switched to Apps.

We started with the fundamentals: moving everyone to Gmail and setting up device syncing so people could access email from their phones and tablets. Before we knew it, we started seeing employees picking up more advanced product features on their own: shared calendars became a company standard and Docs became the norm for team meeting notes.

But Google Drive has been the real revelation. Every important document in our company is stored in Drive, from onboarding and exit forms to organizational charts, permits and checklists. It's a far cry from our old system, a complicated file server that was stuffed full of different versions of Microsoft Word and Excel files, all with their own cryptic names for versions or dates.

Drive has also dramatically improved the way we collaborate. Creating our company all-hands presentations, for example, is a team effort that involves up to ten stakeholders working together on a single document at the same time. It's powerful to see that many employees collaborating so seamlessly and efficiently. It's even more exciting to think about how much time we save by eliminating the need to send attachments back and forth or check that we're working on the most up-to-date version.

Google Apps has helped turn technology into an incredible resource for our employees – smooth, hassle-free email and an easy collaboration hub. Now we can put all of our energy into helping our clients do great things. As someone in charge of IT, it’s comforting to know those systems will grow right alongside Quixote Studios as we continue to help make Hollywood’s big ideas come to life. And Scene!


Finding information should be as simple as using a great product. That's why we created—an easy-to-use website where you and your employees can find everything you need to make the most of Google Apps in your organization. In addition to 24/7 phone support, we now offer a complete collection of documentation, training, and self-help resources available at one convenient location. You can visit the site whether you need to set up a new app, troubleshoot a calendar issue, train your users, or talk to a support rep.

Give your employees tips for the workplace
You and your employees can go to the Using your apps section of the site to find helpful information tailored specifically for using Google Apps in the workplace. Here, you’ll find guides on switching from your old email program to Gmail, calendar tips for administrative assistants, steps for setting up mobile access or a shared inbox, and other essential information for business users.

Get ready for upcoming launches
Visit the What's new? section for a schedule of new Google Apps feature and product launches. You’ll not only learn about important updates like the release of Google Drive or the new Gmail compose experience, but you can get tips and training resources for rolling these changes out to your users.

We believe that good support is a core component of Google Apps and hope that by placing these resources at your fingertips, everyone in your organization can find helpful answers, solve problems, and learn new ways to benefit from Google Apps. Check out the new site now at Enjoy!


(Cross-posted on the Google Geo Developers Blog)

Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is from City 24/7, a non-traditional media company with a mission of providing “what you need to know, when and where it helps you most.” See how the company uses Google Places APIs as a way to give the public access to vital local information.

Imagine you are visiting New York City for the very first time. The lights, sounds and endless city blocks are all pretty amazing – yet a little confusing. That’s where City 24/7 comes in.

To give you an easy (and free) way of learning about your surroundings, we’re installing 250 Smart Screens in retrofitted telephone booths across NYC. City 24/7 Smart Screens are large, interactive touch screens that give you a range of information about local businesses and points of interest. And in the case of an emergency you can also access vital safety information, such as safety tips from the police department or updates from the mayor’s office.

We turned to the Google Places API to help us provide you with accurate, reliable information about events and places in any given neighborhood. The Places API includes location info from Google Maps, content from Google+ Local, Zagat-recommended establishments and (as of last week), Place Summaries - which include curated reviews and ratings.

Cities should be easy to live in and fun to visit. And with access to Google+ Local data, everyone can feel like a local, knowing all the best places to eat, shop, play and hang out. With the help of the Google Places API, we look forward to bringing our Smart Screens to bus shelters, train platforms, and major pedestrian streets in cities all around the world, as well as to launch our mobile application.


(Cross-posted on the Google Drive blog.)

Good news Slides lovers. You can now create, edit, comment and (perhaps most importantly) present without an internet connection -- just like you can with Docs. Any new presentations or changes you make will be automatically updated when you get back online. So you can continue polishing slides on your next flight, and head to your upcoming presentation without worrying about whether there's going to be wifi.

If you already have offline editing for Docs enabled, you don’t have to change anything to work with Slides offline. If not, you can turn it on for Slides (and Docs) by following these instructions. Note that to work offline you’ll need to be using Chrome or ChromeOS. And for those of you who use Google Sheets, we’re working to make offline spreadsheets available as well -- stay tuned.


(Cross-posted on the Google LatLong Blog.)

Editor's Note: Our guest blogger is Anupam (Pom) Malhotra, Senior Manager, Connected Vehicle, Audi of America. With a company-wide focus on the latest in-car technologies, Pom talks about teaming up with Google to help drivers enhance the driving experience with Audi connect™.

"Progress through technology" is at the core of every Audi vehicle. For a driver, in-car technology brings several benefits, including safety, access to local map content and more efficient ways to reach a destination. When developing Audi connect™, we wanted to present our drivers with something that was functional, yet elegant. We were able to deliver this by enhancing our navigation system with Google Maps and Google Earth.

By integrating Google features, we are creating a familiar user experience for our drivers, who already use Google Maps on their computers, smartphones and tablets. As a result, Audi connect makes it easy for drivers to search for a local point of interest or verify a route from Google Earth or Street View. With real-life images, combined with Google local search and voice search, Audi connect allows drivers and their passengers to safely explore and discover local destinations.

The main thing drivers want to do, of course, is get to their destination. But with Audi connect now enhanced by Google Maps and Earth features, we think our drivers will enjoy the journey a whole lot more.


Cross-post to Geo Developers Blog

Starting today, the Google Places API will feature Place Summaries, reliable reviews about points of interest. This allows your application to embed useful review information. For example, car manufacturers can use the API to provide drivers with detailed reviews of local establishments directly in their in-car system.

Place Summaries are curated expert reviews and ratings, based on user feedback, that provide information about a location’s key attributes such as decor, quality and service. The API also shows Zagat-recommended establishments. So whether your customer is looking for a local Chinese restaurant or a national park, the Google Places API help them make a quick, informed decision about where to go and what to do.

We’re continually improving the Google Places API to deliver accurate and comprehensive information about local businesses across the globe. For more information about the Google Places API, contact our sales team.


Learning online is transforming today’s classrooms. More than 1,000 schools are using Chromebooks, opening the door for their teachers and students to take advantage of the web’s vast educational resources. Today, our newest partner Lenovo has announced a Chromebook based on their popular ThinkPad laptop. Meet the new Lenovo ThinkPad X131e Chromebook.

Classrooms have unique hardware and software needs and this new Chromebook combines the hassle-free experience of Chrome OS with the ThinkPad’s rugged design for the classroom environment. With specialized features like a rubber bumper around the top cover, stronger corners, reinforced hinges and hinge brackets, and a high definition (HD) LED anti-glare screen, the Lenovo ThinkPad X131e Chromebook is ready for schools. Lasting up to 6.5 hours* with a latest-generation Intel processor, the ThinkPad Chromebook will keep up with even the most active students and teachers.

Like all Chromebooks, the ThinkPad Chromebook delivers a simple computing experience with built-in security and automatic updates. It’s a fast computer that’s easy to share among multiple students with Google Apps for Education, and it includes over a thousand web-based educational apps from the Chrome Web Store.

Chromebooks can be managed and deployed centrally through the Chrome management console so schools can easily setup and manage users, apps, and policies across an entire school or district.

The new Lenovo ThinkPad X131e Chromebook will be available for $429 in the United States starting on February 26, 2013. Schools can add management and support from Google for a one-time cost of $30 per device. If you’d like to learn more, contact the Chromebook for Education team or visit our Google in Education booth (#1109) at FETC in Orlando from January 28-31, 2013.

*Actual battery life depends on usage and other factors.


Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is Martijn Nykerk, Senior Consultant Group IT at Randstad, the Netherlands-based global provider of HR services and the second largest staffing organization in the world. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

HR is fundamentally about people. That may seem obvious, but in our firm that takes unusual dimensions. Randstad is one of the biggest staffing companies in the world and has some 29,000 employees working from more than 4,500 branches in 40 countries around the world. We help companies and candidates connect in industries such as engineering, finance and accounting, healthcare, human resources, managed services, pharma and technology. To give you an idea, we place on average well over 500,000 people per day. We’ve grown to become quite large since we began as a small company started in a student dorm room in 1960 and our business has changed quite a bit in that time. But at its core, we’re still the same. We’re all about people.

With so many employees in locations across the world, we had several different email and collaboration systems in place and were looking to standardize. A majority of employees around the world were using Microsoft Outlook for email and Lotus Notes for collaboration, but we ran into several problems. For one, both Outlook and Lotus Notes weren't seamlessly integrated with other systems, requiring our employees to find workarounds and solve formatting issues on their own. This wasted valuable time on the part of both the employee and IT department. In addition, both Outlook and Lotus Notes are primarily hosted solutions, which makes it difficult to collaborate across our many locations.

Our decision making process involved several companies, but ultimately we decided on Google for a few different reasons. We have a workforce of younger, web-savvy employees and we heard the feedback that they are quite familiar with Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive and Google+ Hangouts in their personal lives, and on a variety of devices, and that they'd like to use them at work too. Also, because the Google tools are all integrated, we wouldn't run into the problem of having employees across offices and countries having to work with several different pieces of technology that don’t work well together. Lastly, the availability of resellers such as G-company was a big plus. We wanted to provide our employees with as much training as they needed and G-company were able to provide that. Our rollout will eventually include all 29,000 Randstad employees, 5,000 of whom are located in the Netherlands. Our employees in France, Japan and India, approximately 8,000, are already on Google.

We’re right in the middle of our rollout, but early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We can simply do things that weren't possible before. For example, it has become much easier to search and access mail, calendar and documents when on the road, or for an employee in France to schedule a video chat with an employee in The Netherlands in a Hangout. It’s a conference call, but it’s so much more - it’s a conference call that’s based around people, not technology. For an HR company, that’s exactly what we’re looking for in a technology partner.


Google Maps Coordinate makes it easy to manage mobile teams more efficiently. Starting today, Maps Coordinate will be available on iPhones in addition to Android devices. Now, mobile workers equipped with an iPhone can be dispatched and record job details using Maps Coordinate.

Maps Coordinate combines the power of Google’s mapping technologies with modern smartphones to help organizations improve communication with employees in the field. Employees can download the mobile app on their phone to share real-time location data and any information they need to record about a particular job. Meanwhile, dispatchers in a central office can use the web app to see the locations of the employees in the field, create new jobs at specific locations, and assign new jobs to nearby individuals or teams.

To start using Google Maps Coordinate, enroll in a 30-day trial or contact our sales team. If you've already signed up, download Google Maps Coordinate for your mobile device in the Apple App Store or in Google Play.


Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is Joel Hughes, Senior Vice President of eMedia strategy and IT at Scranton Gillette, a media and publishing company based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Scranton Gillette has been around for more than a century - we’ve lived to see the first Model T, a man walk on the moon and the birth of the Internet. We’re a media and publishing company, so you can imagine our industry has changed quite a bit since we were founded 108 years ago (typewriters, anyone?). It's not easy to keep afloat in the business world, let alone in a market that’s undergone so many massive and fundamental changes. But we've been fortunate enough not only to survive, but to thrive, and we owe much of that to our technology.

We first opened our doors in 1905 as a publisher dedicated entirely to the transportation construction industry. We’re still a publisher, and we still cover the transportation construction industry, but now we're a full-service media agency that covers a variety of verticals and helps with everything from website development to event planning. Just as we've outgrown our publisher roots, we've also outgrown the slow-moving stereotype that many associate with the publishing industry. To us, speed and technology are essential to growing our business. Technology can make or break an organization, so if our solution fails or slows us down, we won't hesitate to find something newer and better.

That’s exactly what happened over the Fourth of July weekend in 2011. Our Exchange server died during the holiday break and left us without email or access to our shared company files. We'd been considering a switch to Google Apps for a few months, so this shutdown solidified our decision. We couldn't be tied to a physical server anymore, let alone an unreliable one. We needed a more trustworthy system that would let us be more quick-moving and nimble, and we knew that meant moving to Google Apps.

By the time our employees returned to the office after their Independence Day barbeques, we’d already started our migration to Apps with the help of our reseller, CloudBakers. We haven’t looked back since.

Apps has completely changed the way we communicate. We’re headquartered in Illinois with a satellite office in Arizona, and we want our remote workers to feel just as part of the team as everyone else. Hangouts do exactly this: they facilitate a closer connection and collaboration that conference calls just can’t match. Google Chat is equally integral to our day-to-day. It’s perfect when you’re not in the right place to hop on the phone and need a quicker response than an email typically gets. We didn’t have a dedicated chat client before we moved to Apps, and I can’t imagine going back to that way of working.

Google Drive has been the biggest eye-opener for us. Documents are our lifeblood, so it's essential for us to have a robust system around organizing and sharing them. Before, we just saved everything to our hard drives and sent files back and forth as attachments. That got messy and confusing fast. Drive gives our documents a better, safer, more accessible home. Our employees store their spreadsheets, presentations, mocks and proofs in one place and share them to the right people with just a few clicks. Our marketing team, for example, has a folder on Drive dedicated to campaign materials, knowing that everyone collaborating on those campaigns—internal and external—can access all the images, ad copy, videos and proofs they need without having to search through their mailbox. It’s comforting to know that every document we need can be found in Drive.

A company can’t survive for over 100 years without the ability to see trends before they happen and adapt based on those trends. That’s not always easy to do, so you need a technology solution that can adapt as quickly as possible. With Google Apps, we're confident we have the right tools to last us another century.


Editors note: Our guest blogger this week is Joe Desuta, Chief Information Officer of First Team Real Estate, the leading real estate company in Orange County, Calif. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Ask any real estate agent and they’ll tell you that communication is essential for success in the business. If agents can’t communicate with their clients, they’re out of business. For our more than 2,300 agents and staff in and around Orange County, California, email is the most important business tool they have at their disposal. They’re on it every day, helping their clients through what is one of the most important decisions of their lives. So, when we decided to make the move to Google Apps in July of last year, it was a pretty big leap for the company.

Prior to Google Apps, we hosted a legacy version of Microsoft® Exchange Server for email, as well as Microsoft Office and SharePoint for collaboration. When I joined the company I inherited an unreliable email system and a cumbersome collaboration process that often required people to email several versions of the same document to one unfortunate soul who had to piece them back together, so making a change was warranted.

As the CIO, I recognized the transformational process I was about to lead, so the decision to move away from hosted Exchange was one that I took seriously. I worked for weeks with the CEO and CFO to find the right solution for us. After looking at a few other on-premise and cloud-based options, we chose Google Apps for Business because of the reliable email system married with collaboration tools no one else offered.

In real estate there's a really quick litmus test to see if we should invest in any product: Will agents use it to list or sell more homes? Now that our agents use Google Apps, it's easier for them to provide the information our clients need. Many of our agents use Google+ Hangouts to meet with clients and review properties they've recently visited. Our business is based on relationships and personal interaction and Hangouts allows us to provide great customer service to our customers. With Google Sites, instead of sending clients a bunch of brochures or links to properties, the team now creates and shares customized sites with property listings and virtual tours. We even have branch offices that are using Google Sites and a shared Spreadsheet to update their “listing board” in real time and present it on the large flat screens throughout the office. Not only is this a great way for agents to stay current, but it is also great for our clients to see the collective power of First Team. By using Google Apps to run our business, the biggest difference is the personal touch we're able to provide to our clients and the speed at which we're able to get them information. And, of course, the email. The now-reliable email that’s the lifeblood of our business is backed by confidence we have in the Google Cloud.

The collaboration tools are also incredibly important for our internal staff - particularly our office managers and administrators. Our IT Development Manager uses Hangouts to hold meetings with his team and contractors that are spread out around the Orange County and Los Angeles area, sparing them countless hours of L.A. traffic purgatory. We also have one person that manages the office administrators in all 45 of our branch locations who is responsible for keeping rosters for every office. This used to be a painful process - collecting 45 separate spreadsheets and then merging them once every few weeks. Now, it’s the master roster list is shared on Google Sheets and can be edited and updated instantly.

We’re in an industry that isn’t always on the cutting edge of technology, but that doesn’t mean we can’t lead by example. Google Apps has helped us do just that.


You should have access to comprehensive, accurate and useful information no matter where you are – including when you're behind the wheel. Today, Hyundai Motors Groups joins the ranks of leading auto manufacturers making Google Maps technology available to their drivers.

Using Google Send-to-Car, local search and voice search, Hyundai and Kia owners in the United States can access a variety of maps features through Hyundai’s Blue Link technology and Kia’s second generation UVO eServices telematics system. Voice search enables drivers to easily find destinations, while Google Maps and Google Places APIs – used to power additional trip planning services – give drivers even more ways to find restaurants, stores and other points of interest while on-the-go.

In addition to Hyundai Motors Group, these automakers are also creating familiar experiences based on the Google Maps drivers know and love from their computers, smartphones and tablets:
  • Audi: Audi connect™ brings Google local search, satellite and Street View imagery directly to drivers and passengers, providing real-time, real-life images of the world around you – from California’s Highway 1 to Chicago’s "Magnificent Mile." Combined with voice search, you can safely explore and discover local destinations.
  • Daimler: With Google Street View imagery, Mercedes-Benz A-Class drivers can be sure they’re going to the right destination. The Mercedes-Benz “Digital DriveStyle App” gives you access to Google local search, as well as Zagat ratings to make it easy to find anything from a Michelin-rated restaurant to your favorite fast food joint.
  • Tesla Motor Co: A 17-inch, high-resolution touch screen display brings Google Maps to life in the Tesla Model S. Drivers can see topographic satellite images with overlaid roads and real-time traffic updates from Google Maps.

Including Google local search, Google Earth and Google Street View in cars makes maps even more comprehensive, useful and accurate for automakers and their drivers.