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There are some new features in Google Apps this week:
(1) Google Docs Format Painter
There's a similar function in MS Word. What Format Painter does is copy the currently-selected format and style and apply it to the next thing you select (with a single click or a select-drag. Pro: a quick way to copy formatting to another section of your document. Con: it doesn't give you a way of managing the formatting of saved styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) or a way to change the formatting of "all similar text", functions that I have always found useful in MS Word. But it's a start.
(2) Improved Accessibility for Google Apps
Google reports that they have made changes to better support screen readers like JAWS, VoiceOver, and ChromeVox. They also added new keyboard shortcuts to assist blind and visually-impaired users.
(3) Improved Contacts interface...? On 9/13, Google announced that we (Scheduled Release Google Apps for Education users) would have an improved Contacts interface. I haven't seen any changes yet.

SciEng Staff,

I have another Google Apps update for you. Next Tuesday (8/30), we'll have page-level permissions for Google Sites. That means that we can create hierarchies of pages within a site while micro-managing who has access to which page. I'm currently on a group that's considering the future of the UL Wiki, so I find this new feature particularly interesting.

The other change on Tuesday will be the option to attach a vcard in Gmail. There seems to be a steady stream of silent updates to Google Apps, and I've only been selecting the few most relevant ones. If you're curious about them, there is a calendar you can follow (let me know if you're interested.)

Sci/Eng Staff,

Google Reader for UMN : it's here! I talked with a Google Implementation Team member, and he told me that they flipped the switch last Thursday. When you're logged in (, you'll see in the bar at the top your usual options: Mail, Calendar, Docs, etc. Go to "More". Not everything on this page is actually activated at the U, but scroll down to the "Social" section (third section from the bottom) and click on Reader.

The person I talked to didn't have any tips about migrating your RSS subscriptions from your personal account, and he also stressed that support questions for Reader should go to Google and its support forums, not At the moment, they are only supporting the core apps: mail, calendar, docs, sites, and contacts.

There's a group called "ITLA" that reviews requests for new apps and changes to apps every month. The requests they have received include FeedBurner, Picasa, Google Labs for Gmail, and Google Groups, among others.

That's as much as I learned yesterday. I'll keep you all apprised if I hear more.

New look, People Widget, and Phishing Protection

Hi all,

I just wanted to let you know about upcoming changes in our Google Apps, starting next Tuesday (7/19). Here are the three that I thought were most notable:

(1) New look: I haven't seen screenshots or found a lot of details on this, but according to Google, we are due to receive "a series of design improvements across all our products". At first, we will be able to opt out by switching back to a "classic view", but eventually, the changes will be permanent.
(2) The People Widget: in Gmail, when we're looking at an open conversation, we'll see a widget on the right-hand side with a list of people involved in the conversation. This will give us options to other emails with those individuals, shared events, shared documents, plus other communication options like chat.
(3) Additional phishing protection: now, the actual sender email address will appear next to the sender's self-reported identity. So for example, next to "Charles Heinz", you will see "". Or, if someone was masquerading as me, you would see, "Charles Heinz" and maybe "" adjacent to it. So this isn't an improvement on spam filters or anything automatic like that. It's just bringing forward information that used to be somewhat hidden.

New features in UMN Google Apps

A few new features popped up with our UMN Google Apps accounts this week:

(1) Appointment Slots
This is a feature that was probably designed for instructor office hours and hair salons. You can now share portions of your calendar to allow people to create an appointment on your calendar between specified hours. As an example, I've set up an appointments calendar for UThink:
More information on Appointment Slots.

(2) Default meeting length
You can now set your default meeting length in your calendar settings:
googleapps-default meeting length.jpg

(3) Calendar printing : select a date range
I think this is one we can all benefit from. We can now select a date range when we're printing our calendar.

(4) Nested labels
In Gmail, you can now create multiple levels of labels, allowing you to collapse labels with +/-, almost like sub-folders. As neat as this is for keeping your list of labels tidy, I've found a couple shortcomings:
(a) Sub-labels can't be hidden without hiding the parent label and all of its "sibling" labels.
(b) If you give a conversation a sub-label, it's not implied that it should also be given the parent label. To illustrate this point, here's my example. I have a parent label called "PSE" and a sub-label called "Janice". Suppose I got an email from Janice, and I labeled it "Janice". If I click on the "PSE" label in my list, I won't see that one that I labeled "Janice". Weird, huh? I think some programmer at Google fell asleep during logic class. :) (Modus ponens, anyone?)

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