Google Apps highlights – 12/11/2009

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label "Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

We've been busy over the last three weeks adding new functionality to make communicating and sharing with Google Apps easier than ever, whether you use Google Apps for work, for school or at home.

Google Docs search improvements
In the past, when you searched for a document, spreadsheet, presentation or PDF in your Google Docs list, the results were a set of exact matches arranged by "last modified date". Since Tuesday, we now provide personalized search results in Google Docs, sorted by relevancy — a combination of factors including whether you're an author on the document and if the file is explicitly shared with you. Search in Google Docs also supports stemming and synonyms now, so even if your search terms aren't quite exact, you can still find what you're looking for.

Offline Gmail graduates from Labs
After making many improvements to Offline Gmail since it first launched as a Labs feature (like the new ability to add attachments while offline), on Monday Offline Gmail graduated from Labs. Now it's easier to for Gmail users to enable offline access and adjust their preferences. Just to to the the "Offline" tab in Gmail's "Settings" area.

Picasa Web Albums connects with Eye-Fi
On Monday we announced a special offer to help you make even better use of our new overflow storage plans for photos and personal email. For a limited time, we'll send you a free Eye-Fi card (a $95 value) when you buy 200 GB of paid Google storage for $50. The Eye-Fi card offer lets you wirelessly upload photos and videos to Picasa Web Albums or to your computer, right from your camera, no cables required!

Collaborative albums in Picasa
You've been able to collaboratively manage online albums in Picasa Web Albums together with friends and family since August, and on Tuesday we released an update so you can upload to collaborative albums directly from the Picasa software. From Picasa, you can also now manage the collaboration settings for your online photo collections.

Google Groups for businesses and schools
Also on Tuesday, we launched Google Groups for businesses and schools using Google Apps. Employees and students can now set up group aliases without taxing IT administrators for support, and group members can browse and search archives of messages sent to the alias. Group aliases also make it easier to share items like documents, spreadsheets, presentations and sites with a whole list of people at once, instead of adding recipients who should have access individually. You can watch an overview of what's new on YouTube.

Improvements to BlackBerry support for businesses and schools
Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server enables "push" email, contacts and calendar for BlackBerry devices. Two weeks ago, we added new functionality so businesses can support 500 BlackBerry devices per server — doubling the previous capacity. This lets businesses support fewer servers for BlackBerry users. We also added support for BlackBerry Professional Software, which is used by smaller companies to support up to 30 BlackBerry devices.

Who's gone Google?
I'm happy to offer a warm welcome to Mattson Technology, LCC International Inc., Fresno State University, The University of Delaware, St. Joseph's College and the thousands of other businesses and schools that made the switch to Google Apps in the last few weeks!

We hope these updates help you get even more from Google Apps. For details and the latest news in this area, check out the Google Apps Blog.