There’s always something new to marvel at in the Google ecosystem, whether it’s championing a needle-free blood draw or a working quantum computer. But for the everyday Google user, Google has gifted us a wealth of updates to essential apps and a new streaming capability that could change the way we interact with the web on a daily basis. This holiday season, expect these new developments to be the first gifts you click, swipe, and unwrap.
Hangouts for everyone
Google Hangouts has always allowed IM and video conferencing just for Google users. Recently though, Google has added the ability to invite non-Google users to Hangouts. Though the meeting organizer still needs to have a Google account, this move means that businesses can now invite third-party partners and clients without Google accounts. Non-Google users with a link to the meeting only have to fill out a form with their name (nothing else) to get access; even GoToMeeting requires your name and email address in order to join a meeting.
Most of us make to-do lists for everything from groceries to work tasks, and sometimes we need help remembering what’s important and when. Fortunately for Google Calendar users, Reminders have finally arrived in the Calendar app. Reminders aren’t new to certain Google apps (e.g., Inbox, Now, and Keep), but they’re finally being integrated inside the app many of us depend on for everyday scheduling.
As you’d expect, Reminders can be attached to the date and time they correspond to. But if a Reminder hasn’t been checked off once its time has passed, it won’t disappear from view like an event. Instead, it’ll appear at the top of your calendar the next day (until marked as complete). A pleasant surprise for users who aren’t familiar with Inbox, Now, or Keep is this: Reminders sync across all apps and automatically pull relevant information, like a contact’s phone number or the location of your next meeting.
Android-only: streaming apps
Search is easily Google’s most essential (and beloved) function, and it now helps users stream apps from the cloud when not installed on your phone. When Google finds in-app content that would otherwise open in an app you don’t have installed on your Android phone, it’ll allow you to stream the app; a user clicks on the link they want within Google’s list of search results, and if they don’t have the app installed, they’ll have the option to click a link to run the streamed version. The streamed app runs on Google’s cloud platform, and can respond to your touch much the same way your installed mobile apps do.
Because this new capability is still in its infancy, only a handful of apps are currently available to stream (e.g., HotelTonight, Daily Horoscope, and New York Subway, among others). This makes Google Search more relevant than ever, and can help users save space on their phones while still having in-app experiences superior to many mobile sites. Even in the U.S., there are some apps with app-only content (and no desktop or mobile site); this change would make those apps accessible to every Android user.
Keep in mind though, streaming apps only works on phones in the U.S. that are connected to Wi-Fi and are running Android Lollipop or higher.
Android-only: safer browsing
Google wants to keep users, and their searches, safer than ever. Though Google Safe Browsing already exists to help Chrome, Firefox, and Safari users avoid phishing sites and malware, they’re now doing the same for Android users. In fact, the safe browsing feature is turned on by default for Android phones running Play Services version 8.1 and version 46 of Chrome or later. Though this update may not seem monumental, it’s critical that Google stay on top of dangerous sites that could steal your personal information or install harmful software. Basically, this is the Liam Neeson of browser security updates — always there when you need it.
Learn more about moving to Google for mobility, data security, and real-time collaboration tools for your organization from our ebook, Appirio’s Guide to Going Google.