what do real people use Google Apps for?

real person called code_grey has a bunch of gmail accounts but never felt called to pay an annual fee to Google for that. I also tried using their online word processor awhile ago and thought that OpenOffice writer is more convenient. Never tried the online spreadsheet so cannot comment.

Now, “Google Apps”, which does charge a fee, contains not just gmail but also “google docs” (presumably the above mentioned online word processor and spreadsheet, but maybe other stuff as well), “google calendar” and some unclear stuff like “google video”.

Can somebody dispel my ignorance as to what do real paying users actually use this for?

If it’s a truly useful platform with heavy users who are here to stay, maybe it would make sense to invest in learning the platform and building clever extension apps for the marketplace. But if it’s another of their resource sinkholes that’s getting nowhere (since ideas are worth “nothing”, it often seems like the dumber the idea behind a Google Labs project the better), well, better not do that.

Google Apps are free for personal use - if you personally don’t have a need for the spreadsheet don’t use it. Others may.

Paid Google Apps are for business outsourcing, to reduce the need for local email or storage servers and administration (or pay for Microsoft Office) and still allow collaboration.

yoyodine, there is a difference between “straight dope” and “marketing brochure dope”. I think that the former, especially coming from people who may have seen these things really used (or maybe briefly used and then discarded in horror) is of greater value than the latter.

What will you accept as a cite?

I suspect what he wants is people who actually pay for and use Google Apps to come here and post about their experiences. (I also suspect that he’d have much more luck asking this on a tech-oriented message board, but that’s a different issue.)

I’ve used the free version of Google Docs (wasn’t even aware that there was a paid version) a few times. Several times it was for sharing / distributing a document (such as a PDF); usually it was for an online D&D game (we’d use the Google Docs spreadsheet, with the cells sized as squares) as a gridded map for mapping combats. I found the spreadsheet to be a little unintuitive to use.

The opening post question is full of misconceptions that make it difficult to answer. I suspect the answer is that “real people” (referring to regular private consumers) do not use Google Apps for Business, which is the product you are referring to that has the fee, but rather Google Apps (Free). I don’t think many people would be paying for any Google Apps. All of the examples you mentioned, Google Docs (Word Processor, Spreadsheet, etc), Google Calendar, etc are free web based applications for consumer use. I assume you don’t need us to explain what people use a calendar or spreadsheet application for.

As is implied in the name, Google Apps for Business is aimed at businesses, I suppose as a replacement to the Enterprise software typically provided by companies like Microsoft (Outlook, Word, etc). You would be outsourcing maintaining things like Outlook servers to Google.

Are you asking for feedback from people who have worked for a company that used Google for their corporate email, etc?

I recently helped an office set up with Google Apps for business. They mainly derive benefit from the mail and shared calendar part of it, with which they’re phasing out MS Outlook, but it’s also pretty good for collaborative working on word processing docs (once they’re finished with the content, they get downloaded and formatted in MS Word then PDFed because the layout in Google Apps is poor). Occasionally they work with spreasheets, mainly for viewing, because it’s not as convenient as Excel to use.

I personally use my own Google Docs apps all the time, for free, with my Gmail account. I also pay for storage with this ($5 per year I think) because I store a large number of photographs there. I also use it to share video files with my brother, who is overseas, by uploading them into Google Apps. My girlfriend and I have also collaborated on perfecting her resume using Google Apps, and I’ve shared fiction through it too.

code_grey, people genuinely use this stuff. It seems like you have a preconception and get irritated when people’s opinions don’t conform to it; there is no need to get abrasive.

I am not using Google Apps. I love sitting down at my Power Mac and having everything I need to do simple tasks the some way I remember. Oh for somethings I use Open Office or the latest Flash to cope with the current world. But I get tired of downloading and installing new stuff. I despise Flash and websites that require the very latest version.

We use Google Apps for Business where I work (there’s a list of big customers at the bottom of yoyodyne’s link). As others have said, GAfB is a one-stop for IT outsourcing of a bunch of different systems: email, wiki, email lists, document mangement, etc. The account management (login) is all consolidated and the apps themselves are often already familiar to the user base.

Here are some of the things we use:

  • email
  • calendar (for scheduling meetings and reserving rooms)
  • sites (for employees to create and share wiki pages)
  • docs (for employees to create and share docs: text, spreadsheet, slideshow)
  • groups (email list management for sending mass emails)
  • chat (IM)
  • android sync (synchronization of the above with android devices)

Most non-small companies need these services and there are a lot of ways an IT department can implement the services. GAfB is one way to implement these services.

I don’t know what type of market there is for extensions. Obviously you would want to take into account that your customers are simultaneously end-users and IT departments.

Required or not, if you’re going to install Flash you need to keep it updated. It is a huge security risk.

I use the calendar several times a day. It syncs with both outlook and my phone and it shows a couple of friends’ events, which has occasionally been very handy.

I’ve used the word processor and the spreadsheet for planning as a group with people in different locations. The other docs apps are useful for viewing a document without downloading it. I didn’t really find that there was any learning involved and, while I prefer real MS Word, I prefer Google word processing to Open Office.

Google video is, as far as I can tell, a resource that shows you videos from a variety of sources inc. youtube. It’s been years since I used it, though.

Everyone I know uses Google maps all the time, and translate, and the photos, and everything except their attempted alternative to Facebook, the name of which I can’t even remember any more.

You can upload videos into Google Docs and share them in the same way as you would any other Google doc. I have put several movies into my docs account for my bro to watch remotely.

I’m in the process of setting up Google Apps personal right now! I’m mostly trying to consolidate all of my family-related email accounts to make things easier for when I move out of the country next time. I have no intention of using any of the apps other than email, though.

At its heart, Google Apps is a way to use Google’s very, very nice email and calendar system with custom domains.

Google Docs is a mixed bag – access from any location is awesome and instant saving are awesome, but the lousy formatting and general bugginess are not so hot. I use it at times, but it certainly isn’t my favorite office environment yet.

Everything else is gravy on top.

One of the other things the company I helped is to create a generic Google Apps account to show availability of its services, then to embed its calendar into the website.

Here in the soon-to-shut-down DC Government we have been in a Google Apps pilot for the past year and a half or so. (This pilot also involves using gmail instead of Exchange!) The docs are great for collaboration. Instead of sending out a spread sheet to twenty recipients asking for data, and then having to collate all of the replies into a master spread sheet, you can upload your spread sheet to the cloud and everybody gets a link to access it and populate the spread sheet via their web browser. It can be a huge time saver for data gathering, surveys and other activities involving a large user base that must collaborate.

One of the coolest things is that each person can see data being input by others that have the document open. A side benefit to an organization is that the email servers no longer need to double as file servers. You can also recover earlier versions of documents in case one of the collaborators thinks it would be a good idea to delete half of the document contents.

And, as you might expect from Google, searching through all documents for key words is super fast. I am scrolling through the hundreds of documents that have been shared with me during the pilot and it’s insanely easy to find anything as long as you can think of a key word.

Having said that, it is extremely underpowered and lacks a lot of the advanced features of fat client spread sheet programs. Font styles in word documents are limited to 18 or so; and only 6 in spread sheets.

Here’s a feedback document from the pilot where lots of people didn’t have many good things to say.

Cell formatting in spread sheets is anemic. You can merge cells horizontally but not vertically. Little annoyances like that all over the place. No pivot tables/charts. For basic use, it’s great. But it’s not for power users. Here’s a screen shot of a spread sheet where you can see the limited formatting functionality in the tool bar.

The traditional delay in cloud-based apps is sometimes annoyingly present because everything has to go to California and back before you see the results of typing or mouse clicks.

Of course the appeal is that it’s much cheaper than an enterprise license for MS Office. But you definitely get what you pay for. I use the free service with my personal gmail account just because I like having access to all of my documents no matter where in the world I am. That has come in very handy on more than a few occasions.

what does business edition of Google Apps give to businesses that is worth paying for (and have organizational headache over) rather than telling the employees to get personal accounts?

Is it just the matter of business version being the only one that will synch your Google Calendar with that of your colleagues? Or are there other major features?

If your employees get their own accounts, they will be @gmail.com not @codegrey.com. GAfB let’s you use your own domain and email addresses.

It also lets you use your own authentication system and accounts do not show ads. There are other differences, but I don’t know them well enough for GQ.

I think the stated price is $25 per user per year which is pretty cheap.

Not violating the TOS would be one.

Own domain name, lack of ads, and importantly administrator control over sub-accounts. Probably other stuff too.

What organizational headache are you talking about (compared to, say, setting up an MS Exchange server)?