Drive Stories November 13, 2015

Google expands Local Guides in Maps with new rewards

Google announced today that it’s expanding the Local Guides feature it has for Google Maps that aims to act as a community-driven virtual guide for points of interest with an integrated rewards program (which it could position as a Yelp competitor).

Among the biggest update for the expansion is new rewards for users, allowing access to upgraded Google Drive storage, early access to Google products and features, and more.

Google detailed the new rewards, which include the ability for users to earn a free 1 TB upgrade of Drive storage by accumulating a certain number of points. The top reward will make users eligible to attend Google’s inaugural summit in 2016: “… you’ll be able to meet other top Guides from around the world, explore the Google campus, and get the latest info about Google Maps. Look out for details early next year.”

Here’s a look at the new rewards:

Level 1 (0 – 4 points): Enter exclusive contests (think new Google devices!) in select countries.

Level 2 (5 – 49 points): Get early access to new Google products and features.

Level 3 (50 – 199 points): Show up in the Google Maps app with your official Local Guides badge.

Level 4 (200 – 499 points): Receive a free 1 TB upgrade of your Drive storage, allowing you to keep all the stories, photos, and videos from your travels in one safe place.

Level 5 (500+ points): The very top Local Guides will become eligible to apply to attend our inaugural summit in 2016, where you’ll be able to meet other top Guides from around the world, explore the Google campus, and get the latest info about Google Maps. Look out for details early next year.

Users can earn points by using the feature in Google Maps to do things like leaving a review, answering questions, uploading photos, and submitting fixes.

The expansion also includes an update that makes it easier for contributors to view and track local guides they’ve submitted.

Updates arrive for Google Docs & Sheets for Android, Drive on the web

Google is rolling out updates this week for Google Docs and Sheets for Android as well as Google Drive on the web, the company announced in two separate blog posts today.

For Sheets, the update brings the ability to “add new and reply to existing comments,” while the updated Google Docs for Android app gets the ability to see suggestions and comments when in the app’s Print Layout view. “resolve, close, accept, or reject those comments and suggestions—making it simpler to move between their desktop and mobile devices.”

Google also highlighted improvements to editing charts in the Sheets app on Android:

…if a user a selects a single cell and inserts a chart, we’ll automatically expand that data selection to include the immediately surrounding cells. This will make it easier for users to create robust charts with relevant information. In addition, when an employee creates a new chart, they’ll now see three recommended chart types, which we’ll suggest based on the data they’ve selected.

And lastly for Sheets, users will start to notice the 400 new fonts Google began rolling out to Sheets on the web this week.

As for Google Drive, the web app gets improved organization with new smarter sorting in the app’s ‘Recent’ view:

The new sorting experience removes the existing sorting dropdown options (‘Last modified,’ ‘Last modified by me,’ and ‘Last opened by me’) and replaces them with a dynamically-generated view based on the actions of the person using Drive. Items will continue to be segmented into time-based sections (‘Today,’ ‘Earlier this week,’ etc), and will now indicate whether each item was opened, modified, or uploaded by the user directly in the UI. The smarter sorting ensures that items acted upon by the user are more likely to be shown than items acted upon by other collaborators.

The updated Google Sheets and Docs apps are rolling out now.

Drive Stories September 3, 2015

Google Drive for iOS update brings multiple file select, quick sharing, and more

A new update to Google Drive for iOS brings a couple notable, highly-requested features to the app. Included in the update, users will now be able to select multiple files at once in order to perform an action like saving for offline, adding a star to important files, or rearranging and organizing. The new feature is something that has long been requested by users and makes managing and sharing multiple files at once much easier than in the past.

In addition, the update includes the ability to share, rename or view file details much quicker with new quick share buttons when tapping on a file.

And lastly, Google says the updated app will include the usual performance improvements.

The updated Google Drive app for iOS is available on the App Store now.

Drive Stories September 2, 2015

Update: Two other minor updates targeted to business customers have also been included. Text inside a Sheets cell can now be partially formatted, rather than formatting all the text to one font style (i.e. italics), and Google’s fonts are preserved when opening a Docs or Sheets file in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

Google has today pushed a bunch of new features and general improvements to its Docs suite of web-based productivity apps. It’s the beginning of the school year so it’s no surprise that the company’s post on the changes is targeted towards teachers, but anyone using Docs will benefit.

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Drive Stories July 27, 2015

Google axes editing of Docs on mobile web, presenting install banners for multiple file types

Google Drive for the mobile web has always restricted editing to just Docs files — attempting to edit Sheets or Slides files required downloading the Google Drive app for iOS or Android. That changes today. No, you won’t be able to edit Sheets or Slides files now, but rather Google is also killing off the editing capabilities in Docs for mobile web.

The change makes total sense, if for consistency at the very least. But Google says it’s because the Drive native mobile app is “easier to use and offers more robust functionality.” Native apps typically have more access to the hardware and system-level software capabilities of the devices they’re installed on than web apps, and since they are downloaded directly onto the device, much of the boilerplate user interface doesn’t have to be loaded from the Internet each time the user goes to use them.

From now on, when a Drive user opens a Docs, Sheets, or Slides document from the mobile web, they’ll be presented with one of Google’s new app install banners that make it easy to launch or download the native app, and then be taken directly to the file they were initially viewing in the browser. Tapping the pencil icon in the top right will also trigger the banner to appear.

The user interface across the mobile web viewers for the three aforementioned editing tools have also been cleaned up to create a more consistent experience, which is nice.

Drive Stories July 13, 2015

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Customers of Google’s Internet-based productivity suite, this one’s for you: As an Apps for Business or Education admin, you can now whitelist specific outside domains to share files with people across organizations.

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