Google Docs updated w/ new image editing options, ability to merge cells

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Google this evening has announced a trio of updates to its Drive suite of apps. First off, Google Docs has been updated to add the ability to merge the cells of a table. In order to merge cells in Docs, simply highlight the cells to be merged, then right-click and choose the “Merge cells” option from the pop-up menu.

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Docs updated with Android L support and Material Design appeal

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Google recently revealed its plan to deep-six Quickoffice, so updates for apps like Docs are pretty much a given. The latest version of Mountain View’s word processing application introduces a cluster of new features, including support for Android L, which should make early, early adopters smile. Other noticeable changes in software version 1.3.251.9 include a redesigned  interface more in line with Google’s Material Design language, along with the ability to create and edit Microsoft.docx files.

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Google introduces add-on features for Google Docs & Sheets

Announced today, Google is introducing a new layer of features to its Google Docs and Google Sheets productivity web apps. The word processor and spreadsheet editor will now support additional features through user-installed add-ons developed by select partners.

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The add-ons are accessible through a menu in the tool bar when editing a document or spreadsheet and include a number of partners like Mail Chimp and Avery. Once prompted from the tool bar, Docs and Sheets will present a store-like interface laying out the various supported add-ons allowing you to install them to your apps.

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Gmail adds action buttons for Offers, restaurant reviews, & YouTube, Dropbox, & Drive uploads

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Back in May Google rolled out new contextual quick action buttons in Gmail that appeared next to messages in your inbox allowing users to, for example, quickly RSVP to an invitation or check-in to flights. Today Google announced on its Gmail blog that it’s rolling out even more quick action buttons in Gmail. One of the new buttons will allow users to rate and review restaurants and save Google Offers with a single click:

For example, you can rate and review restaurants you ordered from on Seamless and even modify OpenTable reservations—all without opening an email. And for the deal lovers out there, you can conveniently save a promotion from Google Offers with one click, making it easy to find and buy it when you’re ready.

Another new quick action button will allow YouTube and Vimeo uploaders to click a “View video” button next to emails in their inbox to jump right to viewing their finished uploads (pictured below). The same button will also appear for Dropbox, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.  Read more

New ‘Save to Drive’ code makes it easy for website owners to deliver media to readers’ Google Drive accounts

Google just announced a nice bit of API code that will allow developers to to make it easy for readers of websites to download files to their Google Drive account.

Adding a Save to Drive button on your website is easy. You simply have to include the script and HTML tag below:

<script src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script>
<div
 data-filename="My Statement.pdf"
 data-sitename="My Company Name"
 data-src="/path/to/myfile.pdf">
</div>

It isn’t hard to see how this could come in handy.

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Google makes Quickoffice iPad app free to Google Apps for Business customers

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Google made some announcements today regarding its work with the Quickoffice team since acquiring the company in June. On top of noting work to take advantage of Quickoffice conversion technology in Google Docs, Google launched a free version of the QuickOffice iPad app exclusively for Google Apps for Business customers today. There are also free iPhone and Android versions of the app for creating and editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files coming to Apps customers in the near future:

Converting old files to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides is the easiest way to share and work together, but perhaps not everyone you work with has gone Google yet. To complement what you can do with Google documents, we’re also making it easier for you to make quick edits to Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint files without conversion. Starting today, the Quickoffice iPad app is available for free to all Apps for Business customers, and iPhone and Android versions are on the way.

Vice President of Google Enterprise Amit Singh welcomed the announcement on his Twitter account: “Customers can now get Quickoffice for free. No need to license microsoft for your ipad.”

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Google details energy efficiency of Google Apps and the cloud

Google’s reduction of energy use for servers and server cooling.

Google wants businesses to make Google Apps their primary productivity suite, so the company is recruiting at full swing today with a new blog post that discloses a few stats about its energy efficiency.

Google Apps is a Google service that features several Web applications like traditional office suites. The services vary per edition but generally include Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Talk, Sites, Groups, Video, and Marketplace. Its popularity among businesses and academicians is rapidly increasing due to enhanced sharing features, accessibility, and cost.

According to Senior Vice President for Technical Infrastructure Urs Hoelzle on the Official Google Blog:

At Google, we’re obsessed with building energy efficient data centers that enable cloud computing. Besides helping you be more productive, cloud-based services like Google Apps can reduce energy use, lower carbon emissions and save you money in the process. Last year, we crunched the numbers and found that Gmail is up to 80 times more energy-efficient than running traditional in-house email. We’ve sharpened our pencils again to see how Google Apps as a whole—documents, spreadsheets, email and other applications—stacks up against the standard model of locally hosted services. Our results show that a typical organization can achieve energy savings of about 65-85% by migrating to Google Apps.

Hoelzle further explained how lower energy use equals less carbon pollution. The executive supported this statement with an anecdote about the U.S. General Administration. It switched to Google Apps for Government to save $285,000 annually at a 93 percent cost reduction, and it reduced energy consumption by 90-percent and carbon emissions by 85-percent.

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Google demos Google Glasses at street fair booth in SF [Photo]

Google sought consumer feedback on its highly anticipated Google Glasses product today while set up in a street fair booth in the San Francisco area.

According to GottaBeMobile’s Xavier Lanier, who also posted the picture above, the Google Research booth on Union Street screened “qualified” passerbys with an insights survey:

I found the Google booth to be out of place amongst the other booths, most of which were selling handicrafts and food. I asked a Google employee what the booth was all about and she said they had something to show people that hadn’t been released yet. I asked to see it, but was told I couldn’t see it unless I “qualified.”

Outside the booth is a table where research candidates are screened with a survey. The Google Docs survey, which can be completed on either a Google-supplied MacBook Pro or Vizio Android tablet, is designed to identify physically active smartphone users that are parents and at least somewhat interested in new technology products. The survey is also used to screen for those who actively use social media.

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Google releases SDK for integrating web apps with Google Drive

You probably know by now that Google just unveiled its new cloud service called “Google Drive.” The service integrates with Google Docs online, offers an Android app, and it provides a desktop app for Dropbox-like functionality. In addition, Google announced availability of a Google Drive SDK and 18 web apps that used the SDK to create apps integrated with the service.

Integrating your application with Google Drive makes it available to millions of users. Drive apps are distributed from the Chrome Web Store, and can be used with any modern browser. Plus, your app can take advantage of Google’s sharing, storage, and identity management features.

So, what exactly will the Google Drive SDK allow you to do? Google will allow you to integrate sharing through Drive directly into your apps that manage files such as web app Lucidchart. Google already partnered with 18 apps that have integrated Drive features. The post also explained how Google would let you tap into Drive’s storage and indexing features:
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Google launches ‘Gmail Meter’: Monthly insight reports based on email habits

Google released Gmail Meter today, which is a tool for analyzing your inbox that is similar to the Google Account Activity feature launched last month.

The Google Team announced Gmail Meter on the Official Gmail Blog. Google Apps Script Top Contributor Romain Vialard developed the Google Apps Script-powered feature after looking at his sent mail one day and noticing there were many things he wanted to know about his email habits.

The video above explains the tool, but here is a quick run-down: Gmail Meter sends an email on the first day of every month containing statistics about an Inbox for detailing a user’s emailing habits. Some of the data measured regards volume statistics, daily traffic, traffic patterns, email categories, times before first response, word count, thread lengths, and top senders and recipients.

A screenshot for each data measurement is below.

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