April 24, 2019

Google Next 19 Key Takeaways

Google Next '19 was the latest of Google’s annual events to unveil new features, products and plans for the future. It took place in San Francisco in the second week of April, and also marked the first keynote speech of Google Cloud’s new CEO, Thomas Kurian, who took over the company earlier this year from Diane Greene.

Now that the dust has settled and we’ve had time to digest all of the developments, we’ve been able to pull together our favourite announcements and the biggest upcoming game changers for G Suite users.

You can find our top 7 developments from Google Next 19 that will bring about the biggest gains in security, collaboration and productivity for G Suite users below.

1. Office Editing

G Suite has always been focussed on helping people collaborate better. While the previous solution allowed for easy file conversion between Microsoft Office and Google formats, this latest feature changes the game entirely.

Office editing allows for users to open Microsoft Office files within G Suite while maintaining its Office format, but still allowing users to take advantage of G Suite’s collaboration features. This means that if an external party sends your team a Microsoft Word file, you can save it in Google Drive, open it in Docs and all work on it together before sending it back - no conversions needed.

Google Next 19

It will also mean that any organisations who are still paying for Microsoft Office licencing will be able to stop these payments, as there is no longer any requirement for the packages when using G Suite.

2. Metadata in Drive

Google Drive’s search functionality is already incredibly powerful, but it’s about to become a whole lot more specific and targeted with regards to document types.

The metadata update allows users to create categories and add further details to their documents. This can include tagging them as “Contract”, “Statement of Work” or “Project Scope”. This means that within a couple of clicks, users can filter search results for signed/unsigned contracts for specific clients and many other use cases.

Google Next 19

These categories can also be applied to files stored in Team Drives, with managers selecting the most appropriate way to structure the data.

Users will now have the ability to search in natural language for queries like “all contracts that need to be signed by next week” and Google Drive will present them all together.

3. Android Phones as Security Keys

The introduction of security keys to organisations has had a huge impact on defending against phishing campaigns and other user-targeted attacks. The only downside is having to acquire these keys. The latest G Suite security update negates this by allowing organisations to use Android (7+) mobile phones as security keys.

Google Next 19

This means that users can use their existing phones as a primary 2-Step Verification method to protect against phishing, rather than having to purchase new technology.

2-Step Verification greatly improves the security of your account by adding another layer to your account security. So even if a hacker was able to acquire your password, they still wouldn’t be able to access your account.

4. G Suite Add-ons

G Suite Add-ons is a new cross-suite platform that allows users to access their other workplace apps, like CRMs and Project Management tools, from a side panel within G Suite. This means you can carry out tasks in these apps without ever having to open a new tab. The add-ons will also offer relevant information and make suggestions based on what you’re doing at the time.

G Suite Add-ons

So, if you work in sales, your CRM app can provide you with more customer information while you draft an email in Gmail, or even suggest who to add to your contacts based on what emails you’ve recently received. If you’re a designer, you can stay on top of all your projects by adding new tasks to your project management app as you read about them in Gmail or are invited to discuss them in Calendar events.

5. Security Sandbox for Gmail

This is an incredibly powerful update for Gmail, which greatly strengthens its ability to deal with malware attachments. The best analogy for this feature is to compare it to discovering an unknown and unattended bag being left at a train station/airport - you don’t know exactly what’s inside, but there’s a good chance it’s going to be dangerous. In this scenario, the bomb squad would be called in to carry out a controlled detonation, and this is exactly what this feature brings to Gmail.

Security Sandbox for Gmail

Security sandbox for Gmail scans attachments and detects unknown malware by virtually "executing" them in a private, secure sandbox environment, and then analyses the side effects on the operating system to determine malicious behaviour.

This is all carried out in a matter of minutes before the email even reaches the end user, and provides users with an extra layer of security.

It’s worth noting, however, that this feature will only be available to G Suite Enterprise users.

6. Live Captions in Hangouts Meet

The new Hangouts Meet update aims to improve video conferencing for users who are hard-of-hearing or deaf by adding in live captions. This means that those users will be able to follow conversations and announcements by reading the captions as they display in real-time, thanks to Google’s speech-to-text artificial intelligence.

Hangouts Meet Live Captions

It’s important to note for this feature, that when users enable captions, they will be visible on the device they are using at that time. For other participants in the meeting to see the captions, they will also have to turn them on for their devices as well.

Side Note - video calls on Hangouts Meet run best when used with Hangouts Meet Hardware.

7. Google Currents

Currents was first announced at Google Next 19 and is set to become a new core G Suite app, replacing Google+, which was retired earlier this year. The new app acts as an internal social network for large organisations and enables users to have meaningful discussions and interactions and provide leaders with the opportunity to connect with their employees.

Google Next 19

Users can easily tag their posts and add relevant attachments or images. Once a user posts, others can comment, give feedback, and ask questions all in the same place.

Currents allows leaders within the organisation to address all employees with posts on specific topics, which can be given priority in the news feed to ensure everyone sees them and can engage when required.

Google Currents

We think this is addition to G Suite will provide a great platform for organisations to better engage with all staff and keep everyone in the loop on projects, product releases, company events and any other topics to help users feel more connected.

Google Next 19 Key Takeaway

Along with the 7 updates that we've picked out from Google Next 19, Google has recently released and announced a whole host of other great features for Google Cloud and G Suite users. You can find a list of these here, which we feel highlights Google's tireless innovation in the enterprise to continuously improve and offer the best solutions to help teams work better and more securely, together.

Contact

If would like to find out more about any of the above-mentioned updates to G Suite, or what the service can offer your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via info@cobry.co.uk. We would be delighted to have a chat about how we could help.


April 18, 2019

5 Google Myths Debunked

There are many Google myths out there, which is understandable as Google is a huge organisation. Not only that, they’re owned by another huge organisation - their parent company, Alphabet Inc.

Because of this, and the nature of their business, many people assume the worst and liken Google to “Big Brother” - always keeping tabs on their online activities.

However, if you do a little bit of digging, just below the surface layer of rumours and hear-say found on Twitter, Reddit and any other user-generated-content sites, you’ll find that the facts paint a quite a different picture.

Read on below as we cover the top 5 Google myths that we encounter when speaking with clients and potential customers. Let us know if we’ve missed any in the comments!

Myth 1: Google scans business emails

Fact - There is no scanning of messages for advertisements.

Google outlines this fact in its Terms of Service, which states that businesses using G Suite own their own data, not Google. Automated background systems do scan and index your data to provide you with services such as search, filters, priority inbox, and even spell check. You can find out more about Google's data usage here. However, scanning is a lot more common than you may think and is found in a lot of online services. It’s important to remember that this scanning is not carried out by real humans, it’s all done through artificial intelligence. Google does not mine data to display advertising as their contract states and they also have a strong record of protecting customer data, by encrypting it at every level.

Myth 2: Google will sell my information

Fact - In G Suite your data always belongs to you.

Unless you use Google’s tools to do so yourself, Google does not share your data with any other people or organisations. In fact, Google doesn't sell, trade or rent any personally identifiable user information. You can find out more about this via their Privacy Policy.

Myth 3: Google knows too much about me

Fact - There's nothing personally identifiable about any of the data that Google saves.

Your history of search queries aren't actually tied to your personal identity, only to your computer's IP address. Your IP address only provides Google with a rough geographic location, not your name. No Google employee is allowed to make connections between IP addresses and individuals. In fact, Google has a history of denying requests from the U.S. government to hand over search histories for investigations. They also provide Transparency Reports to shed light on how the policies and actions of governments and corporations affect privacy, security, and access to information.

Myth 4: Google is just a search company

Fact - Google has a diverse range of products that span across the technology sector.

Google’s Mission Statement is “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Google’s history of Search gives them an excellent grounding in the productivity market, as making information more accessible and structured is proven to increase efficiency by huge amounts. Google’s ventures into hardware, self-driving cars and balloons that deliver Internet connectivity from the stratosphere show that it’s not just a search company - It’s got a strong foundation in artificial intelligence and machine learning, which is woven into many of its tools and products, like G Suite, to help make life easier for users every single day.

Myth 5: Google is inexperienced in the Enterprise

Fact - Google has led the way in Enterprise cloud solutions with G Suite.

Although Microsoft began providing enterprise tools through their Office suite in 1990, Google began innovating in the cloud for enterprises with G Suite in 2006, with Microsoft not following suit until 2011. This means that Google has been developing cloud-first solutions for enterprises for over 12 years, helping businesses improve their collaboration, productivity, agility and security levels through G Suite and Google Cloud solutions. You can see how far the business solutions have come in the G Suite development timeline.

Contact

If you can think of any other Google myths that we may have missed, let us know in the comments! But if would like to find out more about using Google’s tools for work and what G Suite can offer your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via info@cobry.co.uk. We would be delighted to have a chat about how we could help.


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January 8, 2019

Chromebook Myths

While we at Cobry specialise in helping companies move to the cloud with G Suite, we also help companies with related hardware - whether it’s Jamboards, Hangouts Meet Hardware or Chrome Hardware, we can help. The last in that list, Chrome hardware, is an area we’re seeing growing interest in - not just with our clients but also further afield in companies large and small across the world. The strengths of Chrome OS devices like Chromebooks are hard to ignore and competitors of Google are increasingly modelling their hardware approach on how Google has done things. Despite all this, we encounter various misconceptions about Chrome devices so we thought it would be useful to try to tackle some of them here...

Myth 1: Chromebooks are only a fancy Chrome browser

Fact - Chromebooks can run Android applications locally on your device.

Chrome

Many people’s understanding of Chrome is that it is just an internet browser, but it’s so much more than just a way to browse the web. Chrome OS is a lightweight, cloud-based operating system built to tackle and vastly improve speed, security, simplicity and shareability. While the majority of actions will be carried out by using the Chrome browser, Chromebooks can also run applications locally through the use of Chrome optimized Android apps (available from the Play Store). These are available for a range of services such as Office 365, Linux, Adobe and many more. It’s also possible to run some non-Android apps, run Linux and save files locally when required.

Myth 2: Chromebooks are not secure

Fact - Chrome OS is widely considered to be the most secure operating system.

Security

Google Chrome was built with security in mind from day one; providing a range of great features like automatic updates (in the background so you can get on with your work!), end-to-end encryption and sandboxing to isolate applications from critical system resources. The best part about these security features is that they all come as standard with Chrome OS, so there’s no requirement for users to set them up or pay for expensive 3rd party antivirus solutions. As Chrome OS is cloud-based, it protects, contains, and resolves security threats all on its own.

Myth 3: Chromebooks only work when they’re online

Fact - Chromebooks offer offline access to G Suite and a variety of other offline applications.

Most of the work done in modern workplaces nowadays requires an internet connection, whether that be for researching, emailing or completing online forms, the internet has become an integral part of how we work. However, there are occasions when we find ourselves disconnected and have to push on with other tasks. In these increasingly rare occurrences, Chromebooks can function just like any other laptop by providing access to G Suite and other 3rd party apps offline. Then because Chromebooks are cloud-based, the next time you connect to the internet, all of your changes will automatically sync across your apps. This also means you’ll never have to work about version control ever again.

Myth 4: Chromebooks cannot run legacy applications

Fact - Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) can be used to provide access to legacy applications. This often results in the applications running much faster.

Many organisations who have moved to the cloud or are considering making the move, are often held up by waiting for their legacy applications to be made available in a cloud setup. This, in fact, isn’t a requirement. Organisations can begin utilising the speed and simplicity of Chrome OS to access these applications through VDI. Simply put, this allows for a desktop operating system (and the associated legacy apps) to be hosted on a centralised server, which users are then provided access to via Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop. VDI solutions will also often run much quicker on Chromebooks than regular on-premise machines due to their lightweight operating system. There is also another solution in development that allows Chromebooks of a particular spec to run Windows apps directly within Chrome OS. The Chrome eco-system is constantly developing to provide more features and increase usability for all.

Myth 5: Chromebooks cannot be properly managed

Fact - Chrome Device Management allows Enterprises to manage all of their Chromebooks from a centralised console.

Most organisations need to manage each device on an enterprise level to ensure all the proper software is installed and prevent users from installing harmful software or accessing things they shouldn’t have access to. Ease of management is actually one of the key strengths of Chrome devices and is one reason why some really big companies are adopting them. Enterprise customers can manage their entire fleet of Chromebooks by using Chrome Device Management (CDM) - an easy to use cloud management console. Chrome Device Management includes over 200 management policies, including policies that follow specific users across devices and policies that are device specific.

Chrome Devices

Although we’ve tackled several of the myths surrounding Chromebooks in this blog post, there is also a range of other cloud-connected hardware options available from Google. These reap the same benefits that Chrome OS provides, in short: speed, security, simplicity, and shareability. These are all prevalent within the Google ecosystem and can be found at the core of Chromebooks, Chromebits, Chromeboxes, Jamboards and Hangouts Meet Hardware; all of which are available directly from Cobry on our Chrome Hardware page.

Contact

If you would like any further information about Chromebooks, G Suite or the cloud in general, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via info@cobry.co.uk. We would be delighted to have a chat.


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