In the fall of 2016, Google rebranded its decade-old “Google Apps for Work” as “G Suite.” While the name is a bit more simplified and more streamlined, the heart of what it does is pretty much the same: offers cloud computing tools for businesses of all sizes.

The biggest difference, other than the name, is that Google upgraded all of its G Suite apps. Where the product was once good, it has become truly excellent. Because of the new updates, it’s worth updating yourself on G Suite. Here are four big things you need to know:

1. It’s not free, but it is worth it.

Everyday users can have a Google Drive account with 15GB of storage for free, but if you want more than that, or if you want a G Suite account, it’s not free (Google, like a lot of other tech companies, is embracing the software as a service subscription model).

However, G Suite is very affordable considering what you get in return, and, unlike a lot of other subscription software, you pay for exactly what you need. G Suite pricing is based on the number of users per month at your chosen tier. All accounts come with personalized email addresses at your domain.

Then, depending on your tier, you get storage (which is unlimited for all but the basic accounts), shared files, voice and video conferencing, security, support and more. If you’re not sure whether it’s right for your business, Google will let you try it for free for 14 days before you commit to buying it.

2. It’s smarter than ever.

Artificial intelligence improvements to all of the G Suite tools mean that you’ll spend less time dealing with the software and more time actually getting things done.

What’s smarter about it? Well, storage, for example; rather than spending time looking for the exact file you need, G Suite’s storage now takes cues from what you’ve been spending your time on (like meetings, emails, and other activity) and offers the files it thinks you want before you lose ten minutes looking for them.

The Calendar has improved and can now find available slots in multiple users’ schedules to suggest good meeting times. Presentations are smarter because they offer suggested layouts and formatting to complement your content.

These are just a few examples, but ultimately, the AI that’s now behind G Suite can save you a lot of time during the day and minimize frustration.

3. It has more versatile security features.

If you’re a regular Gmail user, then you already know about Google’s very tight two-step verification process every time you log in from a new device. It takes a few extra minutes since a code has to be sent to you via text message and then entered as part of your login, but it’s a solid security feature that keeps your account well protected.

G Suite offers this same two-step verification, but security can also be configured using Security Keys. These are actual physical key-like dongles that plug into a computer and use Bluetooth or near-field communications (NFC) to verify a user’s authenticity. Spend a few minutes, just once, to set it up, and you’re good to go from there on out. If you use different devices frequently as part of your work setup, this security feature could save you lots of time over the long run.

4. It’s highly social.

In our media-driven world, having workplace software that integrates well with social media platforms is more important than ever. G Suite is compatible with many of the popular ones, like Facebook, WordPress and YouTube.

Plus, Workplace by Facebook can be configured to work with G Suite. As expected, Google is still pushing its Google+ platform, despite its relative lack of popularity (it’s not quite as dead as Orkut, at least). Still, this integration is incredibly helpful for marketing folks and, really, for everyone.

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GSuite -New Features in new year

Google plans to add an array of new features to its G Suite of cloud-based work applications in this new year.

At the Google Cloud Next event in London this week, the firm revealed the biggest changes in the pipeline and when they’ll arrive.

Improvements are planned across G Suite—including Gmail, Docs, Drive, Sheets and more—and range from offline access to files through to smart systems that automate away repetitive tasks.

“We’ve doubled the end-user launch velocity in this product. Our mission is to help you capitalize, so you can leverage your most valuable assets, the people,” said Dennis DeMeyere, of the Office of the CTO at Google Cloud.

Here’s what’s in store for G Suite in this year.

1. Calendar redesign – Q4

It looks like Google Calendar is going to get a major overhaul at the end of the year, particularly the web client. On the cards is a redesign of web interface, rich text in event notes on Web UI, side-by-side calendar Day view, the ability to see contact details within calendar view, and easier discoverability of secondary calendars.

2. Gmail smart reply

Already available via Google’s Inbox email client, Smart Reply is due to be rolled out to other Gmail users soon. The service automates common responses to email, such as confirming a meeting or lunch request. The more you use the service, the more it will customize the responses based on your messages, so the tone of the automated replies sound closer to your own. Among the millions of Inbox users, one in eight responses that users pick are machine-generated, according to Prabhakar Raghavan, VP of G Suite for Google Cloud.

Also coming is the ability to snooze emails—to hide messages that don’t need dealing with immediately but have them pop back up at a later date.

3. Drive File Stream – Q3

Google Drive File Steam will let users make files accessible on a mapped drive on Mac, Windows or Chrome OS desktop. Files will be available as a link to Google Drive or as a mirrored file that is available offline. During the third quarter, Google will also offer the ability to add comments to Office and PDF files stored in Google Drive.

4. Automated meeting room booking for Calendar – Q3

Calendar will gain the ability to to automatically book meeting rooms based on the needs/availability/location of meeting participants, with the ability to suggest both times and rooms and to resolve room booking conflicts.

5. Gmail Add-ons

Gmail add-ons will allow developers to extend Gmail’s functionality across web, iOS and Android clients. For example, an add-on might auto-populate an invoice based on information in an email. Currently available in developer preview, Google says that developers from various firms are working on developing add-ons, including from Intuit and Salesforce.

6. Broader Google Cloud Search – From Q3

Google plans to extend the range of data that is searchable within G Suite, extending it to Google Sites in Q3 of this year and to third-party data in Q4.

7. More options in Docs, Sheets and Slides – From Q3

Docs, Sheets and Slides are due various minor tweaks, with the addition of table embedding in Docs and Slides due in Q3 of this year, while in Q4 updates will include template integrations in Docs, Sheets and Slides and ‘pivot tables for enterprise’ in Sheets.

8. Protected Team Drives – Q4

Google will be rolling out additional protections for information stored in its new Team Drives, with new controls for admins over what files can be shared or printed following the introduction of Protected Team Drives in Q4 of this year. During the same period, Google will also introduce the ability for BigQuery analytics to be run against G Suite admin reports and also to email all Team Drive members from a single interface.

9. Save Hangouts Meets – Q3

Video meetings via the Google Hangouts Meet feature will be upgraded throughout the year, with Q3 bringing bandwidth optimizations, in-call text messaging, 50 person meetings, the ability to record to Google Drive, and more dial-in countries.

10. Jamboard – Q2

Google’s 55-inch 4K, digital whiteboard for real-time collaboration, with object and handwriting recognition and full integration with G Suite services, will be available later in May.

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