Google Apps Tools

Lets take a look in more detail at some of tools which go into making Google Apps

Google Mail

Google Mail or ‘GMail’ is the backbone of the Google Apps environment. It works just like any other online mail client, except the Apps version is packed full of interesting features to enhance its usability. There are too many of these features to list but here are a few interesting ones. 
  • The integration of Google Talk lets users text, voice or video chat with AFS staff and outside contacts in real time.
  • The ability to tag emails with multiple markers allows users to search for information more intuitively (this includes Google Talk conversations)
  • Google Mail now comes with an ‘offline mode’ which means users can get to their email even if you don’t have an internet connection. 
  • There are almost 60 ‘Labs’ features which allow users to customize and enhance the user interface.
Take a look at this short video introduction to Google Mail:


Google also provides online animated presentations. You can view the Mail version by clicking here, or using the URL below.


Google Calendar

Google Calendar is the scheduling piece which allows users to keep track of meetings and events. It also contains collaborative features that make it easy easy for users to share calendars, keeping track of group events in a centralized way, as well as individual meetings. 

The intuitive overlay feature means that a users can view events from several calendars at the same time and they can even make specific calendars completely public, with simple sharing options and the ability to embed them in a website. 

When creating events there are options for setting reminders, privacy, adding guests and attaching documents, and thanks to integration with wider Google tools such as Google maps with ‘street view,’ users can even share clear directions with attendees using route planning features way markers.

Google also provides an online animated presentations for Google Calendar. You can view it by clicking here, or using the URL below.


Google Docs

Google Docs is an online document creation and storage tool which allows users to collaborate in real time and share information with other users across multiple access rights. You can think of it as an online version of Microsoft Office, with users able to create, share and collaborate on spreadsheets, text documents and presentations. Users can even create forms to embed in websites such as registration forms, with all of the applicants being filed neatly into a spreadsheet for viewing at a later date.

Added to this, Google Docs allows users to upload Microsoft Office files (.xls, .doc, .ppt) to edit online and users can also export files created in Google Docs to desktop versions for editing in Microsoft Office. Google Docs has also recently added a feature which allows users to upload and share any file, regardless of the file type. This means that users can share images, videos, open source programs, etc.

For more information take a look at the concept behind the collaborative benefits of Google Docs:


Google Also has an animated presentation for Google Docs, click here to look at it


Google Sites

This section of the Apps environment allows users to create well designed websites with little to no knowledge of traditional web design techniques (this site was made in Google sites!). In this respect it can be thought of as a structured Wiki, which allows users to write articles with images and embedded videos and files. Google Sites also supports integration with Google Docs and Google Calendar, allowing users to share information stored in other Apps tools that they have access to.

Added to these features, like all Google Apps tools, Google Sites supports the structured sharing of information across multiple access rights, with administrators able to decide who can administrate, collaborate (add content but not administrate) and view the site.

Take a look at this tour of Google Sites:

These four tools (Mail, Calendar, Docs and Sites) work together to make the core of the user's Google Apps experience. However there also many smaller tools and plugins such as Google Talk and Google Video which help to enrich the experience in the four main tools.