Google's latest updates to Gmail, Docs, and more help you stay organized and improve productivity.Google had a busy start to 2014: It acquired for $3.2 billion, launched for meetings, and dropped Google Drive storage prices. But between its biggest headlines, Google also rolled out a handful of updates to its Google Apps productivity suite.
The Google Apps suite, which is now used by more than 5 million businesses and 50 million people, added a handful of new features and capabilities that can help you be more productive and stay organized. Its most recent updates include a library of add-ons for Docs and Sheets users, a new design for your Promotions tab in Gmail, additional Google+ controls, and new photo-editing capabilities in Google Slides and Drawings.
Here's a look at Google Apps' newest features, plus tips for how you can make the most of them.
1. Use add-ons in Docs and Sheets.
In March, Google launched add-ons, new tools created by developer partners that give you more features in your documents and spreadsheets.
You'll find add-ons in the menu bar of any open document or spreadsheet. Click the tab, then select "Get add-ons." Once you install an add-on, it will become available across all of your documents and spreadsheets, and you can use it immediately.
A few add-ons you might find useful include Letter Feed Workflows, which routes your document to the right people and adds an Approve button. You can track who has approved it and publish the final version with a click.Merge by Mailchimp lets you send customized emails from Google Docs, and Avery Label Merge lets you import addresses or names from Sheets into Docs to print.
2. Test new Promotions tab in Gmail.
If you like the look of Pinterest, you'll like a new a new design for the Promotions tab in Gmail that the company is testing.
"Promotional mail has a lot of images, from pictures of snazzy new shoes to photos of that rock-climbing gym you've been wanting to try," Aaron Rothman, Google project manager, wrote in a blog post. "But right now those images are buried inside your messages -- and with only subject lines to go on, it can be a challenge to quickly pick out the deals and offers that interest you most."
To sign up to participate in the field trial, visit g.co/gmailfieldtrial. If you're selected, a new grid view will display images from your deals, offers, and other marketing emails if you have the Promotions tab enabled. You can scroll infinitely in this view, and can toggle between the new view and the standard list by clicking a button at the top of the tab.
3. Control which Google+ users can email you.
Google now lets users who have Gmail and Google+ accounts to email anyone who also has both accounts, even if the user doesn't know the person's email address. The company said that this change will be useful for people who know each other but haven't yet exchanged email addresses.
The new feature lets anyone send you email as long as the person follows you on Google+, which he or she can do without permission. Your email address won't be visible to the user unless you respond to the person's message.
Google's latest updates to Gmail, Docs, and more help you stay organized and improve productivity.your Primary tab. If a user you don't follow on Google+ emails you, that individual's email will be filtered into the Social tab, and he or she will be able to start another conversation with you only if you respond or add that person to your circles, Google said.
While this feature is automatically enabled for all users, you can opt out. Visit your Gmail settings and click the General tab. Find the setting "Email via Google+" and click the drop-down menu. You can choose to receive email from anyone on Google+ -- which is the automatic setting -- extended circles, circles, or no one. Select your preference and click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.
4. Download your Calendar and Gmail data.
Google lets you download a copy of your data from more than 19 Google products, including your Google+ stream, YouTube, Messenger, and more. The newest additions to this list include your Gmail and Calendar data.
To download data from Gmail and Calendar -- in addition to others -- visit Google Takeout and click the "Create an archive" button. Select the products from which you'd like to download data, edit the settings, and click "Create an archive" at the top.
5. Edit images in Google Slides and Drawings.
Most recently, Google added new capabilities to its Slides and Drawings products to give you more options when editing images. You can now crop images from within Slides and Drawings, crop your image to a particular shape, and add borders. You can find these options under the Tools menu.
6. Participate in Google Apps Referral Program.
Know any businesses that could benefit from Google Apps? If you refer a company and it signs on,Google will pay you $15 for every user who signs up for a business account based on your recommendation. That's the incentive behind a new program it just launched, called the Google Apps Referral Program.
Google's referral program is available only to users in the US and Canada. To meet eligibility, you must sign up and submit a valid taxpayer ID number and bank account to receive direct deposits. Google will email you a link to the enrollment form and other details.
After you complete the enrollment form, Google will send you 10 coupons worth $10 off per user for the first year. You can give these coupons to your referrals as an incentive. Once five of your referrals begin their Google Apps trial, you'll receive another 25 coupons to distribute. To get credit for your referrals, customers must sign up for a Google Apps trial through your custom link, which Google emails you.
Google doesn't limit the number of people you can refer, but there are some restrictions. For example, the company will pay you only for each referral customer's first 100 users, capping your payout at $1,500 per referral. Google bases your referral amount on the number of users who have paid for at least 120 days.