By David Politis
Google I/O, Google's annual developer conference, always promises an array of updates. Last year, the conference was decidedly focused on hardware with product launches like the Nexus 7, Chromebox, and of course Google Glass. This year however, Google released myriad application updates - the most notable being an updated Google+ that includes photo editing capabilities, Google Music, and a revamped Google Maps experience.
While the above software releases stole the show and the spotlight at I/O's three-hour keynote, there were some significant updates for Google Apps admins, users, and developers.
Google has consolidated several of the APIs used with Google Apps in what it's calling the 'Admin SDK.' In addition to consolidating some of the existing APIs, Google has also added two new APIs - Directory and Reports - ultimately giving third-party developers greater access and flexibility when building on top of the Google Apps suite.
In addition to the Admin SDK, Google also announced new APIs for Google+, which will allow developers to surface information from Google+ into their third-party applications. For now, the Google+ APIs are in pilot-only mode, but allow developers to complete tasks like auto-provisioning 'Circles' and reading and writing Google+ posts.
Quick action buttons in Gmail allow users to take action on an email message without having to open it. For example, you could respond Yes, No, or Maybe to an event invitation email without opening the message. Google Apps domains on the rapid release schedule should already see these quick action buttons where applicable and scheduled release domains will receive the update over the next week or two.
While these quick action buttons are very useful for common day-to-day tasks, developers will be able to build their own quick action items, allowing enterprises to customize the email experience for their users. For instance, Esna, a unified communications provider, was involved in the I/O developer sandbox and has already built buttons allowing users to start a call or retrieve a voicemail without first opening an email message. To learn more about building custom quick action buttons, visit developers.google.com/gmail/schemas
Google Talk, Voice, and Hangouts are now finally integrated into one platform, known as 'Hangouts.' Google Apps customers can replace chat in Gmail and the Talk app on Android with a new Chrome extension and Google Play app respectively. The application is also available on iOS, finally providing iPhone users with a Google-branded talk application.
While I do believe the new Hangouts interface is a step in the right direction for Google as it serves as a way to further integrate the entire platform, Apps customers may want to hold off on enabling the feature as several Google Apps administrators have reported issues around disabling chat history. Moreover, users will likely need some training on the new application as it is somewhat of a large change from the Talk app and gChat. You can learn more about enabling the new Hangouts feature here.
All in all, Google I/O was a very exciting event, for both consumers and Google Apps customers. This latest round of Apps updates continues to prove Google's commitment to the enterprise and I'm looking forward to what's next.
David Politis is the founder and CEO of BetterCloud, the maker of FlashPanel, the number one cloud management tool for Google Apps, and the Google Apps resource site, AsktheGooru.com. Follow BetterCloud on Google+ at bettercloud.com/plus.