Our Top 10 Best of G Suite Updates to Start the New Year Right

Google never stands still.

As a company, Google is constantly evolving and introducing new tools and feature to help businesses grow, build and succeed, especially in the world of G Suite.

That’s why we’ve gone through all the latest and greatest updates for G Suite and summarized just ten of the top updates, introduced in the last year, that are helping companies worldwide make an impact. Are you one of them?

1. Google Groups Contact Hovercards

Maybe our favorite update of the year! Google made Gmail even better last year with contact hovercards for Google Groups. This is an especially helpful time-saving feature for large organizations – providing essential info when you move your mouse over a Google Group. Quickly view how many group members there are and their names, plus enjoy easy access to more information. You can also effortlessly email the whole group and schedule events with members.

2. Security Updates

One of the top requests we get from our clients is to engage with them in detailed Security Reviews. Google is delivering on that need with Gmail security enhancements. This includes phishing and malware protections, confidential mode, plus an alert center for security-related notifications and actions. (Note that 2019 has just started, but Google has already added some additional improvements to G Suite security protocols!)

3. Gmail Offline Mode

Offline Gmail functionality is an excellent feature for professionals on-the-go who may not have internet access, but have some downtime while traveling. Maximize that available time reading and responding to emails with the offline mode. These are the type of smart features that help you get things done, anytime, anywhere.

4. Hangouts Meet Attachments

Streamline conferences and other virtual work gatherings with simple access to important attachments during Hangout Meet meetings. Document collaboration has never been simpler for your team.

5. Gmail Smart Reply

Machine learning meets predictive text with another great time-saver, especially when you’re on the move – Smart Reply! Minimize keyboarding and reply quickly to emails with this innovative feature. Suggested responses are customized to the content in the messages.

6. Calendar Rescheduling

Things change, meetings get moved, and people need to be informed quickly. Calendar has a new “propose a new time” option to support faster meeting rescheduling. An added message pop-up allows you to communicate the reason for a reschedule and out of office mode in calendar lets your team know when you’re not available to meet.

7. Quick-Access Panel

No need to leave the doc or project your working on in G Suite to quickly calendar an event, make notes, view other content or manage pressing tasks. Just access these other G Suite products from the quick-access side panel – now available in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar and Drawings.

8. Live Streaming

With large business gatherings, like big company meetings, all-hands assemblies and educational conferences, reaching a huge audience is essential. The new live streaming feature in Hangouts Meet is equal to the task, reaching up to 100,000 in-domain users. Versatility is key, allowing attendees to watch on the internet or from a mobile device.

9. Google Drive Beta

Unfortunately, not everyone you do business with has yet recognized the stellar value that G Suite provides. When they don’t have their own Google accounts, collaboration is hampered. But now, a Google Beta Drive gives these business associates the ability to collaborate with access to your selected Google Docs, Sheets and Slides files with pincode ID verification.

10. Box for G-Suite

Work productivity and collaboration will get a boost from Google’s Box for G Suite. G Suite’s content creation products now work seamlessly with Box.

Have you been using these new and expanded G Suite features? Have another to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below what makes your “best of” list for new G Suite features. And don’t forget, if you’re interested in learning more about any of these updates, or diving deeper into maximizing your use of G Suite with customized training, we’re here for you.

3 Steps to Prep Your Users for the Google Calendar Update

Exciting updates are coming to Google Calendar (and we’re not just saying that because we’re Google nerds)! Between now and February 28th, Google is rolling out changes to the Google Calendar layout that include some cool features that will make managing your time easier:

  • New and modern UI
  • See event details at a glance
  • See conference room details when booking a room
  • Add rich formatting and hyperlinks to invites
  • See multiple calendars side-by-side in “Day” view
  • Labs incorporated into the default Settings/View
  • Updated RSVP status indicators
  • Manage settings in one place

While all of the standard expected functionality and more are included in the update, getting used to the new layout will be an adjustment that may take time for some of your users. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Our change management team has been rolling this Google Calendar update internally at Agosto as well as working with our clients to smoothly transition ahead of the full release. Below we’ve outlined three simple steps to ensure a successful Google Calendar rollout for your teams.

Decide on timing for your Google Calendar rollout.

Google is offering the option for you to roll out the updates either automatically or manually prior to the forced switch on February 28, 2018.

For the Automatic rollout, which is the default option unless turned off, starting Nov. 14, 2017 Rapid Release domains will gradually transition users to the new UI. On Nov. 28, 2017 Scheduled Release domains will transition gradually to the new UI. The transition time in total takes about 8 weeks and users have the option to opt-in or opt-out to transitioning right away.

For the Manual rollout, you can choose to manually control when to move your users to the new UI in the Google Admin console. Although Google worked with the developers of the most popular Calendar Chrome extensions to prepare for the new UI, you might choose this option if you have users who depend on an extension that hasn’t been updated yet. Or you might choose this rollout if you want to check out the new UI in your test domain or organizational unit (OU).

To learn more about choosing your calendar upgrade timing check out this Help article.

Get early access to the right people.

As you prepare to update the calendar for your users, think through who in your organization should get “early access” to get comfortable and help champion the updates to the rest of your users. Make sure you’re including two groups here:

Your IT Team: Reach out to your IT teams and provide them with some advanced time to get familiar with the new design prior to general release to the rest of the organization.

Your “Google Guides”: Consider giving your change champions early access to assist you in supporting end users, so you have users beyond IT who can intermingle some positive reinforcement around the updates when the rest of your organization makes the switch.

Communicate the change to users.

Make sure you set up the rest of your users for success by communicating early, clear instructions that ease any concerns they may have about learning a new interface.

For our Agosto customers, you can contact your account manager to request email communication templates to help get you started!

Still feeling wary about the new Google Calendar update?

We’ve been training on it for a few weeks now here at Agosto and we’d love to help! Contact us to setup some time for training with our team to walk you through the highlights and make sure you’re getting the most out of the new Google Calendar.

Google Docs Phishing: How To Quarantine And Recover

Problem:

On 5/3/2017 a sophisticated, widespread, self-propagating attack was targeted at Gmail and G Suite users. This attack encourages users to click on an “Open In Docs” button, which then uses your existing login session to authenticate the attacker (without requiring the user to enter their credentials).  By clicking the “Open in Docs” button the user is allowing a script to connect to that user’s mailbox.

Example of malicious message:

This is what the whole attack looks like (courtesy of @zachlatta)

Solution/Workaround:

The below workaround is intended as a temporary solution and does not guarantee that future attacks will be prevented.  Please follow ALL of the steps below. These steps are provided by Agosto on an experimental basis. Agosto assumes no responsibility for any actions performed on your G Suite account.

Prevent Messages from Entering Domain

  1. Login to admin.google.com and create an Admin Quarantine following these steps
  2. Navigate to the Advanced Gmail Settings
  3. Scroll down to Content Compliance and create a new rule matching the screenshot shown in the appendix of this document
    1. Match Type (if any match)
      1. The body contains text https://accounts.google.com/o/oauth2/auth?client_id=
      2. Any envelope recipient is hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh@mailinator.com
    2. Action
      1. Quarantine – Using the Admin Quarantine created in step 1

Revoke Access for anyone who has already authorized this token

  1. Download and Install Google Apps Manager (GAM)
  2. Issue the following command to revoke all existing authorizations
    1. gam all users delete token clientid 366668462857-3qkidqn8oseh9v3fhm3085kpb747bgm7.apps.googleusercontent.com
    2. Optionally append the command with >> log.txt to keep a record of all affected users
  3. Information on this command is found here

Recall any trace of the infected message from all users accounts

  1. Download and Install Google Apps Manager (GAM)
  2. Issue the following command to purge all copies of the message
    1. gam all users delete messages query “to:hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh@mailinator.com” maxtomodify 100 doit
    2. Optionally append the command with >> log.txt to keep a record of all affected users
  3. Information on this command is found here

Google Cloud and G Suite: Keeping Track of the Rebrand

Google announced big news today: Google for Work is now called Google Cloud, and Google Apps for Work is now called G Suite.

But wait! It’s more than a name change…

G Suite not only speaks to the ecosystem of apps they’ve built and are continuing to improve upon, but they’ve announced the deeper integration with machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve your team’s efficiency and decrease the amount of time you jump between emails, meetings, and video calls so that you can focus on the important things at work.

The branding can be a little confusing and is always difficult to adapt to, but this guide should clear it up for you.

Updates Google Announced:

Quick Access: This removes your need to search for documents. Through machine learning, Google tracks ongoing meetings, emails, and chats to determine what documents you need to access next, drastically reducing the amount of time you spend searching for that one thing Pam shared with you three months ago.

Find a Time: Google Calendar saves you time when you need to coordinate schedules for multiple attendees. This functionality has been in Google Calendar for some time now, but the recent updates allow for smarter room booking. It rolled out to iOS today and by the end of the year it will be on Chrome as well.

Explore: This function was released last year in Sheets, incorporating machine learning to help you create complex graphs and functions easily. Today, Explore was released in Docs, Sheets, and Slides. It’s like having a researcher, analyst and designer by your side.

Team Drive: This is what we’re most excited about. In order to keep pace, a new capability called Team Drives redefines the model, shifting from a focus on the individual user to a focus on the team. Content ownership and sharing are managed at the team level, and new roles give more granular control over team content. Team Drives help streamline teamwork from end-to-end, from onboarding a new team member (add her to the team and she instantly has access to all of the work in one place) to offboarding a departing team member (remove him from the team and all of his work stays right in place), and everything in-between. We’ve been previewing Team Drives with a small set of customers, and we’re excited to begin to extend this capability to more customers through an Early Adopter Program.

Still Has the Same Apps

G Suite is still a collection of applications for enterprises to collaborate and communicate. Here are the staple applications in the suite:

Gmail: Gmail works on any computer or mobile device with a data connection and offline support lets you keep working even when you’re disconnected. Wherever you work, your email is there.

Hangouts: Hangouts enable online video meetings right from your laptop, mobile phone or tablet. With Google Apps, this included video conferencing connects you with up to 15 colleagues or clients anywhere in the world with just a click.

Calendar: Organize your day with Calendar and get event reminders on your phone or in your inbox. Attach files or docs to your event so you have the right materials when your meeting starts.

Google+: Google+ is a social media platform for your business. A place for sharing ideas, news, and stories. A place to connect with coworkers, family, and friends. Choose who can see your posts by sharing with a group of people, or your entire organization.

Drive: Keep all your files in one place and always have the most up-to-date version wherever you are. Automatically sync files from your desktop and have access across your devices.

Docs: Create and edit text documents from any smart device. Multiple people can work in the same document at the same time, and changes are saved automatically.

Sheets: Create and edit spreadsheets from any smart device. Handle everything from simple task lists to data analysis with charts, filters and pivot tables.

Forms: Create custom forms for online surveys and questionnaires. Gather responses in a spreadsheet and analyze the data right in Google Sheets.

Slides: Create, edit and present polished presentations from any smart device. Multiple people can work on the deck at the same time and everyone always has the latest version.

Sites: Launch a mobile-friendly destination site for your team or project, or a portal for your customers using simple drag-and-drop tools.

Admin: Administration shouldn’t need a manual. Easily add users, manage devices, and configure security and settings so your data stays safe.

Vault: Manage, retain, search and export your organization’s email and on-the-record chats. Vault is included exclusively with our $10/user/month plan.

Differences Between Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint

Slideshow presentations are always great ways to show information at your own pace, and unlike paper demonstrations, they transport very easily and can be shared with others easily too.

When you’re making presentations, however, be sure you’re using the best application for the job at hand. Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint both can solve the issue… but which one is best for the job and what are the key differences? If you’re making the transition to Google Apps for Work, you need to know what those key differences are.

One of the most brilliant things about Slides is that the company designed it for use online, and you always have full access to its features. PowerPoint has two separate versions, and most people are equipped with the desktop edition that is included in Office.

While PowerPoint is more familiar to some people, there are significantly fewer features accompanying it, meaning users may be missing out on some useful options that Google offers. With Slides, that is never an issue.

Power Across the Board

Real-time collaboration is one of Google Apps for Work’s most powerful features offered in Slides; Microsoft’s desktop version of PowerPoint has no equivalent version. And even in PowerPoint’s online version, it’s not true real-time collaboration, with many users getting frustrated while trying to work on a project at the same time as others on a team if it takes minutes to update their changes — sometimes nullifying the work you’ve been doing.

Google allows you to take advantage of four key functions within your project:

  • Add collaborators. Invite the people you need to collaborate for every job. It doesn’t matter how many people become collaborators, Slides will flex to suit the job.
  • Watch changes in real time. Your document is live, and any time users make changes, you can see them.
  • Add and reply to comments. Whether they’re editing notes or simply encouraging words, you’re able to slide in annotations for your slideshow.
  • Chat live. Even better than leaving comments is the built-in chat, specific to each Slides document. You’re able to brainstorm and discuss endlessly for a meeting that is twice as productive.

Slides offers more ways to share presentations, too. If you’re using PowerPoint for desktop, your only option is to email the document as an attachment or save it to a USB drive. Google Slides allow it to be emailed as an attachment, shared as a link, published on the web, shared in Slides, inserted into email (not as an attachment), and embedded in Google Sites.

That’s five times more options than Microsoft offers with PowerPoint.  

Slides outshines PowerPoint again when you consider access levels. The desktop edition offers none at all and the online edition only provides two. Users can only view or edit, with no further options. Google, on the other hand, has four separate levels you can use: can view, can edit, can comment, and is owner (which transfers ownership completely).

That sort of flexibility is a great advantage, especially for businesses.

There are no options for sharing visibility when using the Microsoft PowerPoint for desktop. Slides offers five ways to share a presentation with others, whether they are collaborating or not.

Specific people or Google Groups, anyone with the link, public on the web, anyone in your domain with the link, and your domain all are conditions that you can set regarding sharing and collaboration.

You can change them at any time, so your visibility needs are always addressed.

There’s also an instant connection when using Slides or other Google Apps for Work, thanks to the access to the cloud. Any time you change, delete, or upload a presentation from your device, it’ll be automatically visible on any computer, smartphone, or tablet that you log into.

Few things can help keep your team working faster on documents than this sort of seamless updating.

Do More with Google Slides

Many similar types of software aren’t accessible unless you’re connected to the internet. For Slides, this isn’t the case. You can access your content offline and continue working on it to prevent interruptions.  

Google Drawings makes it easier than ever to insert flowcharts and diagrams into your work. These, in turn, can make your slideshows more engaging and easier to understand.

You can also backup any of your information in just a few seconds. The Research Tool makes it easy to insert citations, quotes, images, and scholarly sources – and it’s another built-in feature straight from Google.

Make the Most with Tips for Google Slides

Slides is a very powerful application, and it’s great for business or personal use. There are a few hints, however, that can help you make the experience even more powerful. Some of the ways you can utilize Slides are:

  • Change the shape of pictures with image masking. You can round corners or add dynamic styles for an interesting and useful presentation.
  • Add translucent text bars and shapes to make text stand out. Filling a shape with a low-opacity color dilutes the image beneath it but still allows it to be seen. It’s a subtle way to create contrast and improve your slideshow.
  • Insert drop shadows for bold and easy-to-read words. By duplicating a text layer and changing the color and opacity, you can create “shadows” that add dimension to every page.
  • Present Slides with AirPlay and Chromecast for instant connectivity. Use your TV to show your presentation directly from your phone. Such capability means less equipment to haul and faster setup.

Conclusion

Google Slides is a powerful tool, and it shows the future of slideshow software. If you’re ready to experience a whole new world of features and compatibility, make the transition to Google Apps for Work.

You’ll have all the software you need right at your fingertips – without paying extra money or constantly switching between applications. When you want business done right, do it the Google way.

Differences Between Google Hangouts and Skype for Business

Plenty of people have experienced the consumer version of Skype in their personal lives. Video chatting is fun, effective, and more intimate than emails or phone calls.

Many businesses use these factors to their advantage as well, but they may not have access to the full potential of these applications. A switch to Google Hangouts unlocks new features while retaining a comfortable familiarity.

Here are a few differences between Google Hangouts and Skype for business.

A Modern and Sophisticated Layout

  • Conversations. Across both applications, it’s fairly easy to navigate between conversations. A list of chats is located on the left side of the screen, and active discussions show on the right side. While Skype only allows for one active window, Google Hangouts gives you the option to pull up several conversations at once. Skype also operates with fixed window widths, and Hangouts provides the ability to rearrange and scale the windows as needed.
  • Minimized menus. The tabs inside Hangouts are sleek and non-intrusive. By moving them to the sidebar versus the general menu in Skype, you have more room to access contacts, phone calls, and conversations.
  • Smooth navigation. The user-friendly toolbar in Google Hangouts is collapsible. You can easily examine or change profile settings in seconds. The menu options are repeated as well, so every selection is always close by.

Moreover, if you’ve used Gmail, Drive’s layout will be immediately familiar. You’ll intuitively know your way around its interface because you check your email every day. Customizing your tools, layout, and user experience are also easy. If you need to make any tweaks to complement your business or highlight personal preferences, it can be done in a flash.

The interface is familiar enough to use immediately and features a unique and modernized quality.

Accessibility and Composition

The original Skype application can be opened two ways: via desktop and mobile device. These options work well but are limited.

Conversely, Google Hangouts adds several new means to open the software, allowing for more freedom and productivity. Along with the regular functionality of your desktop and mobile, you can also enter the application from:

  • Gmail
  • Google Calendar
  • Chrome browser extensions

Most calls to the United States and Canada are free with Google Hangouts, whereas Skype charges for this function.

Many businesses benefit greatly from the savings and effectively use Hangouts for meetings without worry of additional costs.

Hangouts also allows you to schedule and control such conferences with flexibility and ease. Both Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendars integrate with the software, so you can add appointments easily. You can also choose between guest permissions, such as common use across your domain.

Switching to Hangouts also enables you to engage more people. Skype allows simultaneous connection for up to 10 different devices. Hangouts more than doubles that number, with enough power to link 25 participants at once. This greatly increases the number of people you can reach with each meeting, which is often a requirement for large companies.

Google Hangouts Lets You Do More

Since the software integrates flawlessly with other Google Apps for Work, you experience maximum benefits with a few taps or clicks. Sharing Google Docs with your team (without even leaving the video call) allows all participants to collaborate on notes.

It’s especially useful for following along with a meeting agenda.

You can also provide your remote audience with presentations at the push of a button. Simply load the Google Slides project and turn on screen sharing so everyone can follow along. Participants can easily ask questions and more thoroughly absorb information.

The Hangouts History keeps tabs on previous conversations and allows you to search for keywords and important information. This feature also proves useful for exchanging statistics and other data during virtual meetings, since the information can be retrieved at any time.

Tips and Tricks for Google Hangouts

There’s an abundance of useful features in Google Hangouts, but it also has several options to personalize and improve your experience.

  • Easily mute notifications during important meetings. Under the Settings menu, you can choose a specific time period to disable notifications, such as 1 or 8 hours. You can also pick the notifications you want to receive. Hangouts gives you the option to turn off call ringing and message sounds independently.
  • Adjust call bandwidth. This feature is excellent if you have issues with the quality of your audio or video. Move the slider to the right or left to control the level for that call. It can be readjusted for each conference for total customization.
  • Choose how others see you. Along with statuses that provide a custom message, you can let others know when you were last online, what device you’re using to access Hangouts, and if you’re currently engaged in a video or phone call from the application. Checking these boxes automatically provides feedback and information for those looking to contact you.
  • Take control of your invitations. You can turn notifications on and off by simply checking a box. Plus, you can add personal details so users with your phone number or email can send you a direct invitation. No more searching for usernames and wondering if you contacted the right person.
  • Quickly access the Help menu. Click or tap on the Help and Feedback button at the bottom of the More menu, and type in your questions to easily find solutions or clarification.

Conclusion

Video conferencing has come a long way, but Hangouts makes it even better.

An elegant design and easy-to-use interface offers a revamped experience that’s still comfortable. This sophistication and power is impressive in itself, but the built-in ability to work through other apps makes it truly incredible.

Switching from Skype for Business means access to all these features and benefits as well as the reliability that you expect from Google. When capability and efficiency matter, trust your business to Hangouts.

Giving Back: The Sanneh Foundation Learns Google Apps

Agosto had the opportunity recently to give back to the community through The Sanneh Foundation, a nonprofit that helps youth development and gender equity locally in St. Paul, and in Haiti.

The Foundation sends mentors to schools to meet with the students who are least likely to graduate. They tutor and mentor these kids to improve their grades and help them graduate. The program is growing, but they’re adding more schools in their program every year and seeing a huge improvement in their grades.

“There’s no way we could be that productive without a solution like Google Apps.”

And in Haiti, they have an after school program. The Sanneh Foundation helps develop the kids into leaders by teaching the importance of respect and equality. The kids have to meet minimum grade requirements in order to go to the program, which offers incentive for the kids to stay in school and study hard. About 300 kids come every day for soccer coaching. Soccer is used as a “carrot” to get them there, and then the coaches teach them skills that they will then take off the field and have for life.

The Sanneh Foundation was founded by Tony Sanneh from St. Paul. Coming from a single parent home, life was tough growing up. After years of dedicating himself to school and to his passion, soccer, the Minnesota Thunder signed him. Tony moved to Europe and played for club leagues. Going on to a very successful professional soccer career, he retired in 2011. Throughout his career, he had a desire to help kids from the inner city. That’s how the The Sanneh Foundation was born.

We were so excited to be able to help support the incredible mission of The Sanneh Foundation  locally and internationally. They had been on Google Apps for a couple of years, but had never gone through training. Many of their employees are millennials, and Gmail is what they use for their personal accounts. Most of the employees (locally, and in Haiti) knew how to use Google Apps in some capacity, but there had never been any written documentation to get everyone in the organization on the same page. As a result, many of the more complicated features were not used to their full potential.

We sent in our training expert, Mary, and our technical expert, Shane, to train The Sanneh Foundation to help them learn the full breadth of Google Apps so they can collaborate easier and faster.

The Foundation uses Gmail and Drive the most. They use it to collaborate with remote workers, even in Haiti. Google Apps enables them to help the community and continue to develop inner city kids.

“Mary and Shane were great. Mary was very in-depth. She kept it relevant for what we needed, and walked us through practical examples of the basic features with things we’ve never used before like Sites. We used the admin console very minimally, just to add users and make user groups. But Shane dove deeper into features like provisioning apps, which helped us grasp the product more holistically.”

7 Quick Google Docs Tricks

When using a tool like Google Docs, no matter how long you’ve used it, there’s always something you’ve not yet discovered, or there’s always new features being released and improved.

Of course with such an innovative company like Google, there are so many fun easter eggs in everything they develop. There are some popular ones, like the konami cheat code in both Docs and Hangouts.

And there are actual shortcuts and productivity hacks to Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Chrome, and the like.

Which is what this article is about.

I wanted to share 7 super quick things I find really helpful in Google Docs. You may know some of them, but I hope one or two are new to you!

  1. Paint Format
    With the Paint Format button on the left side of your toolbar in Docs, you can copy the format from one block of text to another. It’s especially useful when you create a custom header style and you want to quickly apply it to other headings.
  2. Publish online
    You can publish a document online so it’s easily accessible for anyone. Your servers won’t have to host the document, and it will give you a shareable URL to the new doc online. In a document, go to File > Publish to the Web.
  3. Searching for Docs in Chrome
    You can search your Google Drive files directly from the Chrome address bar. In Chrome, Go to Settings > Manage search engines and set the default to Google Drive. It’s useful if you’re a heavy Google Docs user.
  4. Link Between Google Docs
    When you highlight a word or phrase and right click to insert a link, you’ll see a list of suggested URLs based on what you’re highlighting. The cool part is that it will also suggest any documents in your Drive that use that word or phrase in case you want to link between documents.
  5. Working offline
    Traveling somewhere without wifi access? Here are the steps to take to work offline with Google Apps. Most people know that it can be done, but most don’t know how to do it.
  6. Edit Images
    You don’t need a graphic designer to edit an image’s transparency, brightness, contrast, or to crop it. You can do it in Google Docs. Select the image and double click (or go to “image options” in the toolbar). You can edit the image with the functions in the sidebar.
  7. Clear formatting
    If you ever paste text from a different document, chances are that you’ve had to reformat it. To quickly dismiss this nasty formatting, highlight the text, select “Format” in the menu bar and click “Clear formatting.” You could also highlight the text and use the keyboard shortcut, Command + \.

Do you have a favorite shortcut or trick to Google Docs? We’d love to hear it, comment below!