(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog)

We love to focus on solving problems. Sometimes practically and other times with wild, imaginative—or even highly unexpected—ideas. These ideas are born through education, when curiosity meets access to information. That’s why we have a vested interest in, and commitment to, learning in all forms. It’s also why we’re starting the Google for Education Blog: a new destination to share our work that’s happening across education, from products to programs, from the practical to the unimaginable.

One of our goals is to help more students feel engaged and love learning, to encourage their curiosity, to let them work together, to try something new, to make stuff, and to always try again. Through Programs like Made with CodeDoodle 4 Google, and the Google Science Fair, we strive to help students discover the problems they are passionate about solving. Time and time again youth prove that you don’t always have to be a grown-up to bring forward extraordinary solutions. This blog will be a place to hear about those programs and talented young people.

Since behind every student are great teachers, we also focus on building products and tools designed for the classroom that help educators do what they do best, even better. Collaborative tools like Google Apps for Education with Classroom, easy-to-manage affordable devices like Chromebooks and tablets, and limitless educational content in Google Play for Education and YouTube help make learning possible—and fun—outside the four walls of the classroom.

The future is upon us, which is so apparent when working on learning. As former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley says, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” We hope you’ll find this blog useful—along with our Google+ and Twitter channels—as we continue to share more updates and stories from across Google for Education, our dedicated partners, innovative teachers, and inspiring students.


No matter how you slice it, mobile and cloud are essential for future business growth and productivity. This is driving increases in security spending as organizations wrestle with threats and regulatory compliance — according to Gartner, the computer security industry will reach $71 billion this year, which is a 7.9 percent increase over 2013.

To help organizations spend their money wisely, it’s essential that cloud companies are transparent about their security capabilities. Since we see transparency as a crucial way to earn and maintain our customers’ confidence, we ask independent auditors to examine the controls in our systems and operations on a regular basis. The audits are rigorous, and customers can use these reports to make sure Google meets their compliance and data protection needs.

We’re proud to announce we have received an updated ISO 27001 certificate and SOC 2 and SOC 3 Type II audit report, which are the most widely recognized, internationally accepted independent security compliance reports. These audits refresh our coverage for Google Apps for Business and Education, as well Google Cloud Platform, and we’ve expanded the scope to include Google+ and Hangouts. To make it easier for everyone to verify our security, we’re now publishing our updated ISO 27001 certificate and new SOC3 audit report for the first time, on our Google Enterprise security page.

Keeping your data safe is at the core of what we do. That’s why we hire the world’s foremost experts in security—the team is now comprised of over 450 full-time engineers—to keep customers’ data secure from imminent and evolving threats. These certifications, along with our existing offerings of FISMA for Google Apps for Government, support for FERPA and COPPA compliance in Google Apps for Education, model contract clauses for Google Apps customers who operate within Europe, and HIPAA business associate agreements for organizations with protected health information, help assure our customers and their regulators that we’re committed to keeping their data and that of their users secure, private and compliant.


Editor's note: Every organization is charged with keeping stakeholders informed. Map visualization tools help organizations share facts and brand stories with all of their stakeholders — in real time — better than ever before. Read more about the six ways Maps are Going Google.

People around the world are taking an interest in where their food originates and the quality of ingredients, especially in France, where the food and wine are sources of national pride. That’s why French yogurt company Les 2 Vaches (The Two Cows) is committed to producing the best quality yogurt possible, with organic dairy from farmers who use ethical, sustainable labor practices.

But it isn’t enough for the company to say it uses the highest quality ingredients — it wants the public to know the locations of the farms that provide its ingredients. “Les 2 Vaches believes in organic food. We’re here to help change things, to develop a business that creates value across the food chain,” says Aude Gamberini, Marketing and Communications Manager, Les 2 Vaches.

To address this, in early 2014, the company launched the Know What You Eat website that uses Google Maps to reveal the geographical origin of each ingredient, including organic milk from France, sugarcane from Brazil, vanilla from Germany and wild blueberries harvested in Poland. The map also shows where its products are stored and prepared, with information about the suppliers and partner businesses related to the brand. The maps can be accessed through supermarket displays, QR codes on advertising materials and through the company’s social networks.
Customers are eating it up: an initial media campaign brought thousands of visitors to the new site. With relevant details overlayed on a map of the entire ingredient supply chain, Les 2 Vaches achieved greater brand transparency and enhanced its reputation. Plus, the company doesn’t need to spend as much time on PR and can focus more on sourcing the best ingredients.

As the company’s website says, “we’re not telling you we’re perfect, but we’re telling you what we’re doing.” The French have a high standard for their food, so knowing the origin of ingredients provides greater insight into the quality of food. Plus, consumers feel better supporting a company whose practices they respect and stand behind.

View our website to learn more about how forward-thinking organizations are mapping the way to brand loyalty and more informed communities. For information about how maps can help your organization inform stakeholders quickly and reliably, sign up for our “Maps are going Google” series.


Our phones and tablets help us get things done at work, but sometimes, you’re on the subway with no reception and need to update your spreadsheet before you get to the client’s office. Or you desperately need to make edits to your marketing strategy PowerPoint before you present, but you only brought your iPad to the meeting. We’ve all been there, but now there’s a way out.

With today’s launch of the new Slides app on iOS and updates to the Docs and Sheets apps, we’re delivering on our promise to make it possible for you to work with any file, on any device, any time. Now you can use the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps on your iPad or iPhone and all other devices (your Chromebook, laptop, Android phone or tablet), to complete the same tasks—online or offline. In addition, you can open, create and edit native Microsoft Office files with the Google Docs suite on iOS.
According to SoftWatch about 80 percent of Office licenses are only lightly used, with many employees only working with Office for a handful of minutes a day or not at all. If you still have the occasional need, Google has you covered. Use Docs, Sheets and Slides to open up a contract that’s been saved in Word without converting the file, and copy over the crucial figures to an Excel spreadsheet from the client to do some number-crunching on your iPad. Then quickly pop those calculations over to the PowerPoint deck before you walk into a sales meeting, all from whichever device is most convenient. And if you want to collaborate in real-time with your colleagues, you can simply convert these old Office files into Docs, Sheets or Slides and start working together immediately. You’ll even be able to make edits when you’re offline, whether you’re using the app on your phone or tablet, or Chrome on your laptop.

No one wants to worry about what format their documents are in or whether they have the right app on their phone or tablet. Whether you’re working on a file originally created in Microsoft Office, or one created in Docs, Sheets or Slides on an Android phone, tablet, iPhone, iPad, Chromebook or laptop, with or without an internet connection, you can do all this and more with Google Apps.


People want tools that are both powerful and easy to use. For employees, that means they should be able to access their work wherever they are, on their favorite device or share their work securely with their colleagues, even if they’re in different offices, cities or countries. For IT managers, that means never worrying about storage quotas again, or being able to track access and sharing across users and files. We realize how important this is, so earlier this summer we introduced Google Drive for Work, a package that wraps all of this together for just $10 per user per month. Here’s a look at what’s been brewing with Drive for Work over the past two months.

Helping employees collaborate on the go

Before we introduced Drive for Work, businesses like retailer Chico’s and aerospace and defense company Rockwell Collins were using Drive to increase collaboration across distributed teams. Travis Perkins relies on Google Drive to store and share more than 1.3 million documents across thousands of physical locations, to help reduce employee travel and save time. OVS uses Google Drive to streamline its supply chain by sharing and syncing their files across desktops, tablets and smartphones so people have the information they need, no matter where they are or what device they’re using.

Today more than 1,800 businesses sign up for Drive for Work each week. Customers like WeddingWire are taking advantage of the full capabilities of Drive for Work to help provide their employees with the collaboration and file sharing tools they need on any device, whether they’re in the office or on the road.

Extending the Drive ecosystem

Drive for Work includes everything you need to keep all your work safe, easy to share and available anywhere. A growing number of partners are building tools on top of the Drive platform to meet the particular needs of our customers. In addition to the new Audit view built into the admin console, Drive for Work also includes an Audit API that partners have used to build advanced insight and security extensions like Data Loss Prevention (DLP). Other partners have built tools to help move business content into Drive from any location, including old file servers, local hard drives or other cloud storage products.

Keeping your work safe and available

To help keep your work safe, all files uploaded to Google Drive will be encrypted, not only from your device to Google and in transit between Google data centers, but also at rest on Google servers. Our reliability engineers monitor Google’s systems 24x7 in order to quickly identify and address any issues that might arise. Last year, Google Drive achieved 99.985% availability, which averages to less than 90 minutes of disruption per year (our SLA guarantees 99.9%). If there’s ever an issue, you can read up-to-date status information on the Status Dashboard, and if you ever need to speak to someone, help is just a call away in over a dozen languages across 50 countries.

If you’d like to join the more than 190 million people actively using Drive, you can learn more about Drive for Work online or contact us for more information. If you’re already a Google Apps customer, you can upgrade with just a couple of clicks in the Admin console.

Collaborating should be easy. Let technology do the hard work and help you get back to what’s most important — your business.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Chris Williams, Director of IT and Support Services for Chapters Health System, which provides post-acute, palliative, and hospice care to patients in west-central Florida. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Chapters Health System, the role of IT is to provide software, connectivity and hardware to caregivers so they can spend less time wrestling with technology, and more time caring for patients. Our goal is to make the IT portion transparent to providing superior patient care. Most of our nurses and caregivers are mobile – they visit patients in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities or in their homes.

To best support them, we virtualized our clinical and business software applications, and provide access to them via Citrix XenApp via Receiver. We also make sure our caregivers can stay connected through a Verizon 4G Mifi device. As for hardware, caregivers were using Windows notebooks but boot-up delays, long setup times for new machines, and the bulkiness of the devices were slowing down and frustrating our caregivers. In addition, the devices were hard to manage by the IT support staff.

To find a solution, we took a democratic approach and asked caregivers to evaluate four devices: the HP Chromebook 14 for Business, Apple iPad, a Windows thin client, and a traditional Windows notebook. Caregivers rated the HP Chromebook 14 higher than any other device in all areas, including form factor, battery life, ease of use, speed and performance of virtualized applications like Microsoft Outlook and clinical applications, as well as web applications. Ninety-two out of 139 caregivers who participated in our study voted the Chromebook as their favorite device for work.
Luckily for us in IT, Chromebooks for Business are also the easiest devices to deploy and manage, freeing up our own time for other projects. The biggest change we’ve heard about so far is improved speed. With a traditional Windows notebook, caregivers faced three to four minute boot times, plus multiple logins to Windows, their VPN, and then finally Citrix and the applications. With Chromebooks, boot time shrank dramatically and Chromebooks start up right at the Citrix login screen, so caregivers can access clinical data right away.

Speed benefits extend to setup time as well. Some of our supplemental and weekend caregivers borrow from a pool of shared devices, and it took 40 minutes to set up each Windows notebook. With Chromebooks for Business, we can hop into the management console and set up a new Chromebook in under five minutes. Even better, we use the management console to configure access for users so that if they need to borrow a machine we don’t have to get involved at all—they just pick up a Chromebook and log in. Since each caregiver can get his or her specific user experience on any Chromebook, it's easy for the devices to be shared.

For additional security and simplicity, we use Chromebook for Business’s Kiosk mode to offer one single application, the Citrix login screen, but we’ll be extending it other web applications soon. We also use the management console to mandate the proxy server for Internet access—a feature that’s built-in to each Chromebook for Business.

Chromebooks are giving back precious time to caregivers and their patients. In fact, we’re looking at purchasing many more Chromebooks in the near future so we can extend the benefits to even more Chapters Health employees.


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Daniel Chiha, Communications Specialist (Operations) at Dick Smith, an electronics retailer in Australia and New Zealand.

The Retail Operations team at Dick Smith moved to Google Apps with help from Cloud Sherpas just over a year ago to improve the communication and coordination between our 3,000 or so staff in 376 stores across Australia and New Zealand. Since then, we’ve seen some pretty dramatic improvements and efficiencies in the way we get information out to our staff, thanks to Google Drive and Google Sites.

Our workforce is very mobile. Not only do we have a fleet of 23 Area Managers who spend their time between multiple stores, but our 3,000 in-store staff spend most of their time on the floor with customers. Our team depends on a steady stream of updates and materials throughout the week — from new product guides, promotional activities, upcoming launches through to employee safety processes — so it’s not only important that people see the updates meant for them, but that we’re able to track the critical messages for compliance.
Before moving to Google Apps, it took up to 24 hours to get these messages out to everyone through a series of phone hook ups, faxes, emails and a document delivery system that polled nightly. This was especially challenging when dealing with issues like product callbacks or promotions, where it’s essential for the team to move fast in order to avoid potential problems and ensure that new offers are immediately available to customers.

Now, with Google Drive and Google Sites, we’re able to provide thousands of employees with a bird's-eye view of important updates and key documents across the company. That way, if we need to get an urgent message out or a new employee needs access to a how-to guidebook, there’s just one place they need to look — and we can get everything listed or posted quickly and effectively. We create a master site with sections for each team, with links to Drive folders that house everything from planograms and promotion details to instructional guidebooks and tickets. Area Managers can then access both the site and the files from their tablets or phones on the go, and our sales staff can see updates from their own devices or the store computers.

We’ve also built a new system with Forms and Sheets to streamline operational communications. Instead of relying on complex email trails and lots of phone calls, employees now submit their sign-offs in a single Form. Responses are captured in a shared Sheet that the Operations team uses to track feedback and responses in real-time.

Google Apps helped us think outside the square and create a unified and integrated communications platform that can be accessed instantly on any device. But more importantly, it ensures that our store teams have immediate access to the latest information, which in turn provides our customers with a better experience in store.


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Arvin Reyes, Chief Information Officer for KFC Philippines, which operates 230 restaurants and six plants in that country. To learn more, read the full case study, or see what other organizations that use Google Drive have to say.

KFC has been on a steady growth path since being introduced to the Philippines in 1967. With restaurants, plants, and offices across the country, fast and easy communication and information sharing are vital to our success. This means tools like file storage, email, calendaring, and document creation need to be user-friendly for employees and relatively trouble-free for our IT team. But until recently, our mix of email and document management software caused more problems than it solved – with server over-capacity and slow response time, they just slowed down our business growth.

We decided that a single communications platform with everything from storage to email to document creation was the necessary solution, and Google Apps was our answer. Not only did Apps meet all our requirements for cost-effectiveness, reliability and ease-of-use, but in Drive we saw a way to help our increasingly mobile workforce, which needs access to documents while out of the office.

We’ve boosted our productivity on creative work by 15% by switching from snail mail to Google Drive. Before we made the move, we sent creative materials back and forth between our home office and our advertising agency through messengers and the postal service, racking up costs and taking time away from other tasks. Now, with Drive, we can share large files like high-resolution images and merchandise artwork through the cloud, so material gets to our agency (and back to us) faster and at a significantly lower cost. And with a single location to store everything we’re working on, we’ve dramatically improved our ability to collaborate on projects.

Gmail makes us better at communicating: Now that everyone has 30GB of mail storage available, they don’t need to waste time constantly cleaning out their inboxes to make room for new emails, or asking colleagues to re-send emails because they can’t find them. Our IT team loves Gmail because complaints about email services have decreased to zero since we began using it – in fact, IT’s support work for communication tools has gone down by 25% since we started using Google Apps. That gives our team more time to focus on activities that are more directly tied to the bottom line.

Google Apps makes everyday problems like scheduling meetings disappear. Our old decision making process used to require the scheduling of several meetings and calls, with various reports and documents emailed back and forth among different teams. Now we schedule meetings on Google Calendar, where we can see everyone’s availability. For these meetings, we use a single shared document in Google Docs that serves as a running update on progress. This new workflow fundamentally changed the way we work with one another. What used to take days to decide is now possible within hours.

Google Apps not only makes it easy for us to manage storage and bandwidth, it keeps our employees happy. After six months on the platform, 95% of people told us they’re satisfied with Google Apps, which means they can enjoy their work of serving and helping our customers.


Google Drive for Work is a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls and features, such as encryption at rest.

If you're getting ready to move your company to Drive, one of the first things on your mind is how to migrate all your existing files with as little hassle as possible. It's easy to migrate your files by uploading them directly to Drive or using the Drive Sync client. But, what if you have files stored elsewhere that you want to consolidate? Or what if you want to migrate multiple users at once? Many independent software vendors (ISVs) have built solutions to help organizations migrate their files from different File Sync and Share (FSS) solutions, local hard drives and other data sources. Here are some of the options available for you to use:
  • Cloud Migrator, by Cloud Technology Solutions, migrates user accounts and files to Google Drive and other Google Apps services. (website, blogpost)
  • Cloudsfer, by Tzunami, transfers files from Box, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive to Google Drive. (website)
  • Migrator for Google Apps, by Backupify, migrates and consolidates personal Google Drive or other Google Apps for Business accounts into a single domain. (website, blogpost)
  • Mover migrates data from 23 cloud services providers, web services, and databases into Google Drive. (website, blogpost)
  • Nava Certus, by LinkGard, provides a migration and synchronization solution for on-premise and cloud-based storage platforms, including Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon S3, as well as local file systems. (website, blogpost)
  • SkySync, by Portal Architects, integrates existing on-site storage systems as well as other cloud storage providers to Google Drive. (websiteblogpost)
These are just a few companies that offer migration solutions. Please visit the Google Apps Marketplace for a complete listing of tools and offerings that add value to the Google Apps platform.


Editor's note: Businesses rely on email to communicate, and on Google to ensure that their email communication is secure. Today, we’re adding to our spam filtering support in Gmail to handle duplicitous “Unicode Homoglyphs.” This release strengthens our ongoing commitment to keeping our customers safe and protected from scams, phishing attacks and spammers.

Last week we announced support for non-Latin characters in Gmail — think δοκιμή.com and 测试 and みんな — as a first step towards more global email. We’re really excited about these new capabilities. We also want to ensure they aren't abused by spammers or scammers trying to send misleading or harmful messages.

Scammers can exploit the fact that , , and ο look nearly identical to the letter o, and by mixing and matching them, they can hoodwink unsuspecting victims. Can you imagine the risk of clicking “ShppingSite” vs. “ShoppingSite” or “MyBank” vs. “MyBɑnk”?

To stay one step ahead of spammers, the Unicode community has identified suspicious combinations of letters that could be misleading, and Gmail will now begin rejecting email with such combinations. We're using an open standard—the Unicode Consortium's “Highly Restricted” designation—which we believe strikes a healthy balance between legitimate uses of these new domains and those likely to be abused.

We’re rolling out the changes today, and hope that others across the industry will follow suit. Together, we can help ensure that international domains continue to flourish, allowing both users and businesses to have a tête-à-tête in the language of their choosing.


When we introduced Classroom back in May, we asked educators to give it a try. The response was exciting — more than 100,000 educators from more than 45 countries signed up for a preview. Today, we’re starting to open Classroom to all Google Apps for Education users, helping teachers spend more time teaching and less time shuffling papers.

One of the first schools to use Classroom was Fontbonne Hall Academy in Brooklyn, New York. Sister Rosemarie DeLoro, who has been teaching for more than 60 years, had never used computers with her students before Classroom was introduced at her school. Classroom made it easy for her to assign digital worksheets to students in her Italian class and provide direct feedback to help them learn. In fact, after just a few weeks, Sister Rosemarie was showing the other teachers how to use it. “You can’t stay in teaching and keep going to the old ways,” she said.

Teachers and students have been instrumental in helping us build Classroom. For example, we heard during the preview that educators don’t want to wait until an assignment is turned in to collaborate with students. Now, with Classroom, teachers can view and comment on students’ work to help them along the way. We’ve also heard that educators want a simple place to post information and materials about their classes, so we added an “About” page for each course, as well.
When teachers create assignments, they can attach files from Google Drive — including Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Keynote, Google Slides, Excel, Google Sheets, and many others — then choose to automatically make a copy for each student. 
Teachers can review assignments from Classroom and provide feedback and grades to students all in one place. 
Classroom is available in 42 languages (including right-to-left ones, such as Hebrew, Arabic and Persian). It also works well on mobile devices and most popular screen readers. We’ll be rolling out to more users every day, so if you go to with your Apps for Education account and don’t have access yet, please check back soon.

Hopefully Classroom will help you spend a little less time at the photocopier and a little more time doing what you love—teaching.


Editor's note: Whether it’s taking a meeting over Hangouts from the airport before escaping to a much-deserved vacation or sending work emails from an air-conditioned neighborhood cafe, technology should help you get your work done faster so you can enjoy the summer months. To celebrate the season of sun, we’re sharing stories from customers who know all about the importance of technology when fostering a culture of mobility and flexibility. Today, we hear from Ben Darr, Product Development Manager at Thrillist Media Group, a digital media company based in New York that is responsible for men’s lifestyle brand and popular online retailer JackThreads.

In the last four years, Thrillist Media Group (TMG) has gone from a small newsletter in a one-room office to a multi-propertied media group with more than 300 employees. We now operate within the realms of content, commerce, private label clothing, events, sales and proprietary tech platforms. We’ve worked hard to tie these unique industries together — a feat that requires high levels of communication between our offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Columbus, Ohio. Thrillist’s collaboration between employees would not be possible without Google Apps.

Thrillist’s employees are completely plugged into the Google ecosystem and the tools we need are mere clicks away and always available. What really sets the Google platform apart is the seamless integration and intuitive user experience. If you’ve ever used Gchat in the last few years, you know how to use Hangouts. If you can write an email, it’s a tiny skip to using a Google Doc. Being able to quickly switch between Apps without having to log in or learn how to use a new tool caters to our fast-pace environment and centralizes nearly all of our day-to-day files and communication.

Whether someone has a quick question or needs to express a more complex idea via Hangout or email, Google Apps is there to give our team what we need to finalize the designs and copy with the client. After approvals, we upload all files to Drive, which makes it easy for multiple departments across the company to refer to them throughout the campaign. On the product side, our quality assurance team can then cross reference final design specs to custom-built sales and make note of any issues or differences in Google Sheets. When the campaign is live, I review how the entire process was executed and use our product page on the Thrillist Google Site to recount best practices and we took away from the campaign.

Take, for example, this real-life scenario from a recent campaign: A client halfway across the country sponsored a custom sale on Jackthreads driving content on Thrillist and Supercompressor, two of our e-commerce properties. To start the process, our sales and design team held a kick-off meeting with the client via Google Hangouts to understand their vision and goals for the campaign. Throughout the meeting, everyone recorded ideas, guidelines and project timelines on one Google Doc. When the meeting ended, I shared the Doc with all the different TMG departments involved — other product members, photographers at our warehouse in Brooklyn, tech leads overseeing the build, sales reps communicating with the client and that lucky colleague on vacation at the beach.
As a relatively small company, our projects are largely collaborative and everyone is juggling a large workload — and the specific example above is just a single piece in the complex TMG puzzle. Google Apps is critical to the work we do everyday; while other companies offer these services separately, none offer all of them together in one seamless, easy-to-use system.


Editor's note: Whether it’s taking a meeting over Hangouts from the airport before escaping to a much-deserved vacation or sending work e-mails from an air-conditioned neighborhood cafe, technology should help you get your work done faster so you can enjoy the summer months. To celebrate the season of sun, we’re sharing stories from customers who know all about the importance of technology when fostering a culture of mobility and flexibility. Today’s guest blogger is Amanda Bensol, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Karma, a New York-based startup building a sleek, portable pay-what-you-use WiFi hotspot.

Karma empowers people to work wherever they want with an elegantly designed personal portable hotspot. Our team spent years paying exorbitant hotspot data costs while traveling around the world and knew there had to be a better and cheaper way to get online at the many airports, hotels, cafes and trains that didn’t have public Internet access. We set out to solve the problem ourselves with an affordable mobile WiFi hotspot that allows people to work wherever, whenever they want. Karma isn’t just a hotspot — it’s a movement that lets people take back the power to use their data and technology how they want.

In order to introduce new ways of working, we hold monthly Karma Outdoors gatherings and invite people to come join us in working outside this summer. Like most people, we enjoy being able to work on our own terms. That’s why Google Apps has been part of our journey from the start. It’s not a stretch to say that Google Hangouts practically built Karma. After the company was started, visa issues caused the founders to return to Amsterdam, leaving me essentially in charge of U.S. operations. Hangouts was a lifeline that allowed us to build and grow the company, even though we were separated by an ocean.
In addition to Hangouts, Google Docs is essential to our business and our preferred way to innovate because it offers a better creative workflow than any other product. Our founders in Amsterdam exchange a lot of ideas with the company’s designers in New York as we prepare for our next-generation release of sleeker Karma models. Google Docs makes it possible for us to easily keep track of our design ideas. Docs is the place we quickly paste media to preserve of our thoughts on the fly. We refine ideas together by exchanging comments within our documents. I write down specific product specs in Docs, knowing our concepts are logged and stored for our design team to access from anywhere.

We’re only at the beginning of our journey to liberate people in their quest for mobile connectivity, and we’ve got a lot more in store for our products and company. We’re confident in our ability to achieve our goals and truly make an impact using Google Apps, which allows for mobility and flexibility in communications and productivity — values that align with our mission, too. Between Karma and Google Apps, together we’ll get people out from the confinement of cubicles and into the sun.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Anthony Osborne, Vice President of Marketing for The Climate Corporation, which brings the power of data and technology to the agriculture industry with the ultimate mission of combating climate change. The Climate Corporation is one of many companies outfitting conference rooms with Chromebox for meetings. To learn more, join us for a live Hangout on Air to see how companies can modernize the meeting room and reimagine collaboration.
You might not associate farmers with technology from the Bay Area, but at The Climate Corporation, we’re dedicated to providing tools for farmers that help maximize their crop yields and use natural resources efficiently. We believe that innovation plays a vital role in their mission; we also apply this belief to improve the way our employees work.

Oftentimes, a culture of perpetual innovation means our days are filled back to back with meetings. With offices in San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Kansas City, coordinating meetings and catch-ups across time zones can pose a number of challenges. The San Francisco team typically gets to work at 9am but stays late; in St. Louis, we’re at work by 7am and out by 6pm. Until recently, most people worked late at the office and often missed out on quality time at home. We flew between our offices for meetings, which cost time and money. And when we weren’t traveling, we held meetings over the phone, which were typically less engaging and productive. We considered high-end video conferencing solutions, but the cost (over $70,000) limited how many conference rooms we could equip.

Then we discovered Chromebox for meetings. At a $999 starting price, we can afford to place Chromeboxes in conference rooms across all of our offices and bring our spread-out teams together throughout the day without the travel costs or conference call grievances. Now, it’s almost like our colleagues in San Francisco are in the same room with us in St. Louis. Our IT team loved the easy setup – all they had to do was plug in the display and complete the setup wizard. And our employees love the speed and simplicity of meetings.

Not only are Chromeboxes in our conference rooms, but some of us have them at home, too. In my case, I can spend some time with my kids, then jump onto a face-to-face meeting for a half-hour if I need to, all without being forced to stay in the office.

Today, 80% of our meetings are now held on Hangouts using Chromebox for meetings. Coupling our new way of collaboration with Google Apps—which we’ve already been using for work, in and out of the office—I’m amazed at how technology transforms our work day. Now that we’re collaborating more efficiently, we can do a much better job of creating products that help our customers monitor the impact of climate on their businesses.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Alicia Shires, Classroom Technology Specialist at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

At Washington and Lee University, we pride ourselves on our clear communications to everyone on campus—and if we have to cancel or change classes or events, we want everyone to find out as soon as possible. Our 13 digital signage screens, positioned in key places across campus like the Commons building and several dorms, alert staff and students to the events at the University, along with updates on our sports teams and local weather. When we installed Google Chromeboxes to replace the crash-prone Windows machines running the screens, it became much easier to bring news to the campus while it’s fresh.
The personal computers we were using to run display screens had several problems, with unreliability at the top of the list. They were slow to update, and would often crash, leaving the screens completely offline. That meant a delay in delivering information to students and staff until we could reboot the machines remotely. The machines were also slow. When we uploaded information to be displayed, it could take 30 minutes before viewers saw it.

These delays could become a big deal if we wanted to deliver time-sensitive information to screens, like weather-related campus closings or emergency situations. Without fast notifications, students and professors could waste time traveling to classes or events that weren’t happening.We knew we needed better hardware to solve the problems of speed and instability.

Rise Vision, the developer of the free, open-source platform we use to create and manage our display content, suggested we replace the PCs with managed Chromeboxes. We discovered that because Chromeboxes run Chrome OS, they update automatically, so updates don’t interfere with the displays. We can operate Chromeboxes in Kiosk mode so we can run the digital signage software at full-screen, which makes our displays look better. Management is largely hands off. I don’t have to touch the boxes and the reboots are fast and automatic.

Each Chromebox is several hundred dollars less than one of the PCs we were using before, so that’s a big plus for us. They’re extremely reliable and super-fast—when I upload new content from my office, it appears almost immediately on the campus display screens. It’s hard to believe I’m not working directly on the Chromeboxes themselves. They’re also powerful enough to run rich media like HD 1080P videos without choppy playback.

Perhaps the best thing about using Chromeboxes for our screens is that we’ve finally been able to kick our emergency notification system into high gear. If we go through another difficult winter, we can quickly push out emergency notices about schools closings, weather delays, and event cancellations. Operating our screens with fast, reliable Chromeboxes is helping us keep everyone on campus not just well-informed, but safe and sound.


Japanese companies are facing major challenges for long-term success. The rapid graying of society is shrinking the workforce, leaving only 62% of the population in the working age. Inflexible workplace practices prevent many women from returning to their careers after childbirth. The Japan Productivity Center ranks Japan lowest of the Group of Seven most advanced nations in productivity, despite some of the world’s longest work hours.
As pressure mounts on Japanese businesses to find new ways to be productive and to attract and retain top talent, we asked Deloitte to take a look at how mobile and digital tools might be able to help. According to their new report, Japan’s Mobile Potential, access to mobile devices for work and more flexible IT policies could help unlock almost 2 trillion yen for the Japanese economy and keep some of Japan’s most skilled people in the workforce. There are a number of additional findings from the report which may be useful for businesses including:

Japanese businesses are missing out on a massive mobile opportunity
Deloitte found that despite having one highest rates of smartphone use in the world — 75% of people between 18 and 49 own a personal smartphone — less than 9% use their smartphone for work. Of the same group, 20% of people own a tablet computer at home, but only 3% of these people have access to a tablet for their work tasks.

People want to work more flexibly with digital and mobile tools
71% of people said that they would be more productive if they had access to digital tools like smartphones, laptops and tablets for work, as it would enable them to work from home or while commuting.

Workplace IT has some catching up to do
Many people say that their home IT is better than what they’re given at work. They rate their home technology as more user friendly (51%), more up to date (45%) and said that their internet was faster (43%). Almost half of the respondents said that they are frustrated with their workplace IT, as their computers and internet speeds are too slow and their devices are outdated.

Employees with flexible workplace IT policies are more productive
Businesses that allow their employees to work from home or work remotely with digital tools said they are more productive. And none of the respondents with flexible workplace IT policies said they work overtime, while 31% of those without this approach said they regularly work overtime.

Mobile devices and flexible IT policies could unlock two trillion yen for the Japanese economy
Deloitte found that the Japanese economy could generate 2 trillion yen if businesses provided digital tools like smartphones, laptops and tablets to people who want to work, but don't have direct access to the tools they need to work from home or remotely. When you consider that they did not calculate the economic impact of giving people who are working access to digital tools and flexible workplace policies, this figure could be much higher.

You can learn more about Japan’s mobile potential from Deloitte’s report, and to find out how Google can help your company work flexibly with mobile tools visit the Google Enterprise website.

Posted by Pedro Chaparro Monferrer, Software Engineer, Gmail

Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog 

Whether your email address is firstname.lastname@ or something more expressive like corgicrazy@, an email address says something about who you are. But from the start, email addresses have always required you to use non-accented Latin characters when signing up. Less than half of the world’s population has a mother tongue that uses the Latin alphabet. And even fewer people use only the letters A-Z. So if your name (or that of your favorite pet) contains accented characters (like “José Ramón”) or is written in another script like Chinese or Devanagari, your email address options are limited.

But all that could change. In 2012, an organization called the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) created a new email standard that supports addresses with non-Latin and accented Latin characters (e.g. 武@メール.グーグル). In order for this standard to become a reality, every email provider and every website that asks you for your email address must adopt it. That’s obviously a tough hill to climb. The technology is there, but someone has to take the first step.
Today we're ready to be that someone. Starting now, Gmail (and shortly, Calendar) will recognize addresses that contain accented or non-Latin characters. This means Gmail users can send emails to, and receive emails from, people who have these characters in their email addresses. Of course, this is just a first step and there’s still a ways to go. In the future, we want to make it possible for you to use them to create Gmail accounts.

Last month, we announced the addition of 13 new languages in Gmail. Language should never be a barrier when it comes to connecting with others and with this step forward, truly global email is now even closer to becoming a reality.


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Jon Spruce, Google Programme Leader for Travis Perkins plc, the UK’s leading company in the builders’ merchant and home improvement market and largest supplier to the building and construction market. See what other organisations that use Google Drive have to say.
Travis Perkins plc supplies building materials for projects small and large across the United Kingdom, from home improvements to Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. Creating quotes for a variety of different jobs and tasks, then making sure the materials get where they need to be, requires serious coordination. We chose Google Apps to enable collaboration across our 2,000 locations, 24,000 people and 17 different businesses. And since making the switch, Google Drive in particular has played a significant role in making our company operate smoothly and efficiently: we use Google Drive to store and share more than 1.3 million documents, which has reduced travel, email traffic and the time taken to get things done.

Before Google Drive, the process of creating quotes was disjointed and confusing. We’ve made a series of acquisitions over the last 30 years, and with each one, also acquired a new technology and system, which left us with a mismatched set of storage and document creation products. People created their own ‘kingdoms’ of data, and expected they’d be able to share information – with very limited success. With Google Drive, we can deliver quotes to customers at a steady pace, while making sure that employees across the Travis Perkins Group can provide and access the most up-to-date information at any time.

Drive has also taken the sluggishness out of the quote pipeline. In one of our businesses, BSS Industrial, we start by creating a document about the project at the customer’s local branch, then create a shared folder, and add in blueprints, estimates, and photos – anything the rest of the team needs to build and fulfill the quote.

As employees locate and price supplies or visit the building site to take precise measurements, everyone can update the same files. We no longer worry about which email or spreadsheet is correct, since we all work together on the same project quotes. Drive gives us an accurate, up-to-date picture of our progress at any given moment.


No matter how things change, a face-to-face conversation is still the fastest and simplest way to communicate. Using Hangouts lets teams collaborate over video meetings across smartphones, tablets and computers. And dedicated Chromebox for meetings devices extend these video meetings to any room. Today, we’re announcing the latest features, updates and partnerships that make video meetings even easier and better for Google Apps for Business customers.

Enhanced reliability and support for Hangouts
Hangouts is now covered under the same Terms of Service that support our other Google Apps for Business products, like Gmail and Drive. That means we’ve got your back with 24x7 phone support and a 99.9% guaranteed uptime, as well as ISO27001 and SOC 2 certification. Additional enterprise integration with Google Apps Vault is coming by the end of the year.

Simpler to get everyone on video meetings
Starting today, Hangouts video meetings support any Google Apps customer account, including those without a Google+ profile. Any Google Apps customer can start or join a high-definition video meeting that connects 15 participants—from a computer or Chromebox for meetings device and coming soon to mobile phone and tablet.

And to make video meetings with Hangouts and Chromebox for meetings even more accessible, we’re partnering with additional providers to let you meet with teams using other systems. Blue Jeans will allow people on traditional H.323 or SIP-based videoconferencing systems to join video meetings. InterCall will let people join video meetings on their phones through an InterCall audio-conference bridge. And with new phone dialing support, you’ll be able to dial out from your Chromebox for meetings device to telephones.

Bringing Chromebox for meetings to more places
In the coming months, we’ll be making Chromebox for meetings work better in rooms of all shapes and sizes. In larger conference rooms, you can connect two displays to one Chromebox for meetings device to see your audience and project a presentation at the same time. And if you’ve ever wanted a dedicated setup for video meetings for your home, new personal calendar integration means you will be able to easily set up Chromebox for meetings outside the office.

Lastly, IT administrators can better manage meetings right from the Google Apps Admin Console with options like remotely starting, muting and ending a meeting.

Spontaneous one-on-one brainstorms, monthly company-wide meetings, or connecting two offices via a continuous video stream are just some ways customers like Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Kaplan and Eventbrite have used Hangouts and Chromebox for meetings. And soon, even more teams across the world will be able to get simple and affordable video meetings. In the coming weeks, we’ll be expanding Chromebox for meetings to the UK and Japan in addition to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And in September, you’ll be able to purchase Chromebox for meetings made by Dell.

To learn more about these updates, join our product team for a live Hangout on Air on August 19. And to help your team see eye-to-eye, check out how you can get Hangouts and purchase Chromebox for meetings devices.


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Chris Ridd, Managing Director for Xero in Australia. Xero is a cloud-based accounting software company with 300,000 customers worldwide and over 800 employees across offices in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand. 

At Xero, our core business is making beautiful, intuitive cloud based accounting software that helps small business owners spend more time doing what they do best, and less time worrying about keeping their books in order. Xero started life as a small four person operation in New Zealand. Eight years later, we’ve grown to 300,000 customers worldwide and 800 employees across 17 offices in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand.

This rapid growth was great, but it came with challenges, like finding the right people and new premises. One of the biggest challenges was coordination. With hundreds of employees dotted around different parts of the world, it soon became apparent that we needed to improve how we documented information, shared content and communicated.

I have to admit, it was ironic that although our core product is cloud-based, we weren't actually using this same technology to its full extent within our own business. Instead, teams used a combination of cloud software and legacy desktop software that required continual expensive upgrades. With a highly mobile team based all over the globe, we needed a communications platform that would scale with us, make it easy to collaborate from anywhere, and help us maintain our fluid and mobile way of doing business.

To that end, in December last year we decided to change to Google Apps, and I’m pleased to say this has led to huge boosts in productivity and openness. Tasks that used to be time consuming – like emailing a document around for edits – now take just hours. Teams can also now jump into a document from Google Drive and collaborate on product release notes, spreadsheets, blog posts, and dozens of other documents with people around the world in real time.

Whether we conduct meetings in break-out areas or our in-house cafe, open laptops are ever-present, with Xero employees writing minutes in real-time so that everyone has their action items as soon as they walk out the door. Having 99% of our documents saved in Drive gives us a central place where people can find and store everything — and that means no more lost files, confusion over multiple versions, or duplication of work.

Moving to the cloud has made international coordination so much easier. Hangouts bring far flung teammates face to face, and during these video meetings people will often work together on the same document right from within he Hangouts window. Being able to work from anywhere — the office, home, the airport or the back of a taxi — has made everyone feel much freer because they can work wherever they want, on any device without worrying about losing documents.

Although it’s difficult to quantify how much money we’ll save with Google Apps, I’ve seen a lot less hardware around the office. In fact, we no longer need to spend money and time updating and maintaining servers. Productivity gains have been impressive, too.

By embracing the cloud-technology our customers use every day, we’ve been able to vastly improve the way Xero employees across our offices communicate, collaborate and share ideas. ‘Anywhere, anytime on any device’ is a key benefit we promote to customers, and it’s great to see we can now embrace that every day within Xero.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Lisa Ventura, Vice President of Accounting and Administration for the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont, a non-profit organization that services businesses and consumers in the community.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has a real mix of in office and telecommuting staff. As a busy non-profit, technology is forefront of our organization and, like a lot of Better Business Bureau offices around the country, we don’t have an IT department, which adds to the challenge of keeping information both secure and accessible. If someone needs tech help, I put on my IT hat (as does Kevin J. Sanders, our CEO), and configure new computers or update software. Juggling the IT responsibilities can be difficult during busier times of the year.

That is until we decided to bring 35 Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes for Business at the BBB. Almost overnight, we reduced the time we spent handling IT tasks like software updates and patches, and worrying about security concerns. We’ve already seen firsthand how Google can help our business  we were early adopters among BBB offices of Google Apps for Business (about 30% of BBBs nationwide now use Google Apps), and we love collaborating on documents and managing our emails, which Google Apps has made so simple.

Chromebooks and Chromeboxes give us even more freedom and help us lock down the security of information. The devices run on the Chrome operating system and software is updated automatically on each device. Security is built into the Chromebook in multiple layers, such as sandboxing and data encryption, so we can rest easy knowing that malware can’t get very far. Using the Chrome management console we can preload the apps that we want employees to use and restrict downloads to only those applications employees need for working with consumers and Accredited Businesses. Not only are we greatly reducing IT issues, we have saved roughly $900 per seat by purchasing Chromeboxes versus computers with added software. With a staff of approximately 50 people, that savings really adds up.

Using Google Apps for Business eliminated the need for email and document servers, instantly saving BBB the cost of maintaining those devices. It became easier to share documents and track user changes, instead of emailing those documents back and forth as attachments. Plus, the ability to have Google Apps anywhere you are, allows our remote workers to always have information at their fingertips. Moving off our Windows-based desktops and laptops onto Chromebooks and Chromeboxes made perfect sense after seeing so much success from switching to Google Apps for Business.

We’re in the process of expanding beyond our original order of 35 devices and switching out all of our desktops and laptops to Chromebooks and Chromeboxes – a huge benefit for our busy organization. In fact, we’ve become such experts at adopting Google technology that other BBB offices in North America are coming to us for advice on Google Apps and buying up Chromebooks and Chromeboxes for Business


A few weeks ago at Google I/O, Docs, Sheets and Slides got a major upgrade — making it even easier for you to get work done at the office and on-the-go with Google Apps. In case you missed it, here’s a recap of how you can edit Office files, make Suggested Edits and a new ability to convert tracked changes to Suggested Edits:

Edit and share Office files — without Office
Technology is changing the way people work, but all that change can cause friction when employees are using different software. That’s why we made it possible to edit Office files directly in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, so you can open and edit those documents in their native format using Office Compatibility Mode. No need to buy additional software or think about how to open your file. The Docs, Sheets and Slides mobile apps come with Office editing built right in, and with the Chrome extension, you can edit and share files directly from Google Drive or Gmail.
Suggest Edits in Docs
Docs makes working together easy by letting people edit files in real-time, rather than emailing multiple versions of the same document back and forth. But sometimes you want to control specific changes someone else makes in a document. Suggest Edits in Docs lets you do just that: your team can make suggestions that you can accept or reject with a single click. This feature is available for anyone with commenting access in Google Docs on the web, and is coming soon to our mobile apps.
Convert your tracked changes to Suggest Edits
While you no longer have to convert Microsoft Word files to Docs (thanks to the recent Quickoffice integrations), if you do, starting today any tracked changes in a .docx file will be automatically carried over to Docs as Suggested Edits. Once you’ve imported your changes, you can begin immediately collaborating with your colleagues in real-time.
These features are available today. So next time you’re collaborating in Docs try suggesting edits to speed up the review process.

Simon Forsyth, Software Engineer, Gmail

(Cross-posted on the Gmail Blog.)

Important stuff doesn't always happen when you’re conveniently sitting at your desk. Maybe you're out to dinner when your boss tells you that she needs the latest project proposal ASAP, or your daughter calls you on your commute home to ask you to proofread her college essay (that’s of course due that night!). While we can't make your life more predictable, today's update to the Gmail iOS app, along with earlier updates to the Gmail Android app, makes it easier to get stuff done on-the-go.

Just like with Gmail on the web, you can now insert files from Google Drive directly into an email on your phone or tablet.
The apps will even tell you if your file isn’t shared with the person you’re sending it to so you can change the sharing settings before you send it. And to help you store all your files in a single place, if someone sends you an email attachment, you can save it directly to Drive with one tap.
On iOS, you can now also change your profile picture right from your Settings. So the next time you take that perfect selfie, you can make it your profile picture right away, all while out with friends. Lastly, if you have multiple Gmail accounts, you can choose which signed-in accounts you want visible in the app.

You can give these features a try by downloading the updated Gmail iOS app from the App Store, and if you’re using an Android phone or tablet, you can get the latest version of the Gmail Android app from the Google Play Store.