Blog

January 17th, 2016

GoogleApps_Jan7_CIt seems that Google Chrome has become the browser of choice for the majority of Internet users worldwide. Chrome offers its users a fast and reliable browsing experience across all devices. The Chrome Web Store also houses thousands of powerful add-ons to enhance Chrome’s features. But deciding which extensions to download can be difficult, since there are many options out there. We’ll make things easier by giving you the lowdown on some of Chrome’s most popular extensions, so you can decide for yourself which ones best fit your needs.

StayFocusd

If your job involves staring at a computer screen all day, this extension could be the perfect productivity booster. Why? Because it can be all too easy to get distracted by certain sites and other time wasters while you’re working. But things can change with StayFocusd. It’s simple - you set a time allowance for particular websites like Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter, and once you’ve reached the time limit, StayFocusd blocks access to those sites, reminding you to focus on your work.

AdBlock

Today we are hit with large numbers of advertisements on the web, some of which are trying to trick people into downloading something harmful to their computers. This is where AdBlock comes in. This extension is the most popular extension on the Chrome Web Store, with over ten million active users. AdBlock is designed to block most ads from showing on Chrome. Removing ads from your screen can greatly improve your experience and increase the speed of your browser.

LastPass

While Chrome already has a built-in password manager, LastPass is a better option when it comes to password management. Instead of trying to memorize countless passwords for your online accounts, LastPass can generate new and secure passwords every time you log into a website and sync your passwords whenever you need them. With LastPass you can easily gain access to your accounts, enter credit card details, and fill out online forms with just a few clicks.  

Evernote Web Clipper

Evernote is a powerful extension that allows you to quickly and easily save web content from Chrome and transfer it straight into your Evernote account. With the press of a button, you can grab an image from the web page, make annotations, create summary links, and save a distraction-free version for later perusal.

Momentum

If you find yourself losing motivation to work during the day, Momentum could be the dose of inspiration you’re looking for. Momentum replaces Chrome’s default new tab screen with a personalized dashboard that features a beautiful scenic background, a daily inspirational quote, the weather report, a to-do list, and quick links widgets for you to add your favorite sites.

Pocket

Pocket is the best way to save articles, videos, and any other web pages that you wish to view later. Simply hit the Pocket extension button when you come across something interesting and that page will automatically be synced to your device, so you can view it at any time, even without an Internet connection. With Pocket, you can set things aside when you have an important work at hand.

If you want to learn how Chrome’s extensions and other Google Apps can boost your staff’s productivity and efficiency, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 13th, 2016

GoogleApps_Nov18_CGoogle might reign supreme when it comes to search engines and its suite of productivity tools, including Google Drive and Docs are loved by companies across the globe. But when it comes to instant messaging, they’ve barely made a dent in the market. But that could change if Google has its way for rumor has it that they’re currently developing a new chat app service – and one which aims to up the ante. While details are currently scarce, we do know a little about what the future may hold.

Chats apps: most of us are glued to them throughout the day. You only have to look at the hoards of sidewalk and public transport zombies to realize that. In the West the market is dominated by Facebook’s own Messenger feature, and WhatsApp which they acquired back in February 2014 for an eye-watering $19 billion. Look to the East and Japan, Thailand and Indonesia are mostly committed to Line while in China WeChat is the messaging app of choice, and has taken over lives to the extent that users can pay for everything from a coffee at 7-Eleven to a taxi ride with the app.

With such a potentially massive, and lucrative, market to tap into it’s not surprising that Google has decided to get back in on the action and are no longer content to sit on the sidelines. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal gives us a sneak peek into just how Google might be staging their comeback.

Comeback you say? Yes - remember Wave? Remember Google Talk? Even now Google’s current offering, Hangouts, has failed to set the instant messaging world on fire. Initially developed as the video calling and instant messaging function within Google Plus - Google's answer to Facebook - Hangouts may have a core base of loyal fans but it consistently fails to feature among the most popular downloads in the Apple or Google app stores.

So what does Google have up their sleeve in an attempt to reverse their ailing chat app fortunes? The WSJ’s piece reports that the company is developing an app that enables users to not only chat with friends and co-workers, but also with ‘chatbots’. These chatbots are designed to assist with queries and searches - and given that Google’s strength lies in searching the web to find relevant results (or answers) could this be the thing that differentiates them from their rivals?

Well, not quite because since the beginning of 2015, Facebook has been testing “M” – a semi-automated digital assistant within Messenger that combines manual human labor and artificial intelligence to answer users’ questions, find information and even book appointments. Google clearly wants to compete with Facebook as Google Plus, albeit unsuccessfully, demonstrates. And seeing as the company already has powerful search capabilities at their disposal this could give them the edge – particularly if they can fully automate.

As of writing Google hasn’t revealed a name for their chatbot-powered messaging app nor has any timeline been released. All we really know is that the AI boffins at Google have been working on the project for around a year. Until more details are made public consumers will just have to sit tight and see if the service does see daylight. And if it does whether it will be a viable contender in the battle for chat app supremacy or if like Hangouts it is destined to forever snap lamely at the heels of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and Line.

Want to know how you can help your small or medium-sized business stay one step ahead of YOUR competition? Talk to us today about implementing IT solutions that really will give you the edge.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 13th, 2015

Email is the force that powers our businesses and keeps our workloads flowing - but one too many messages in your inbox can also be a drain on motivation and productivity. Feeling like you stand no hope of ever getting to the end of a bottomless inbox is a surefire way to underachieve. But while inbox zero - that utopian target of having nothing staring back from your Gmail at all - often feels out of reach, the Streak plugin and its snooze capability could be about to change all that, and free you once and for all. You need to download it now.

Streak is a full-on customer relationship management tool that allows you to track emails and carry out plenty more tricks to streamline your client engagement workflow - but it’s the snooze feature that has the real potential to get you to that inbox-zero nirvana.

The premise is simple. When you receive an email that you can’t instantly file away forever - as you ought to with the likes of updates and notifications from colleagues and clients, which don’t require a reply - but which you can’t take action on right now, with one click of a button you can snooze it for as long as you need to. The email is stored away in a specially created Gmail folder, and resurfaces at the top of your inbox when the snooze time elapses. You can opt for the snooze period of your choice and even enter it in plain, human-speak text (like “in 30 minutes” or “tomorrow at 11am”), which the ever-intelligent Streak understands.

Additional options include the ability to only activate the snooze alarm if nobody replies to the email thread - making it perfect for getting sales enquiries out of your inbox, by prompting you to follow up if the client doesn’t get back in touch (and if they do, their reply will force the email back into your inbox, and onto your radar, anyway). Any time you need to, you can review a list of the emails you’re holding in snooze mode, and pull back to your inbox any that you’re ready to work on sooner than you had initially expected.

Snooze, along with the rest of the Streak plugin, is simple to understand and easy to use, and has the potential to help you better manage your email - and stop it from managing you instead. If it feels like you’re constantly waging war with a never-ending barrage of messages, this is one more tool you might want to consider adding to your productivity arsenal.

If you’re ready to take on the inbox-zero challenge and regain control of your workday, contact us to find out how Google Apps and other innovative tools could help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 26th, 2015

GoogleApps_Jun5_CIn the age of the smartphone, the once vital SMS notifications from Google Calendar were a vital component of the service. They gave us an all-important reminder about upcoming meetings that we might have forgotten about; of particular use when away from the desktop computer that at the time was still the technology mainstay. But now we can access sleek notifications through a range of devices, including smartphones and tablets, even when offline - so Google is throwing in the towel on SMS alerts. Here’s what you need to know.

Google says that, in 2015, SMS notifications of upcoming diary engagements are no longer needed. It’s true that you no longer even need an internet connection on your phone or tablet in order to receive alerts.

With Google’s announcement, if you currently use SMS notifications then you’ll instead see pop-up notifications on your mobile or desktop device. These only function on mobile devices if you have a calendar app installed - either Google Calendar or a rival app native to your device - and on desktop devices if you have the web version of Google Calendar running in your browser.

If you’re not already a smartphone user, the transition is less simple - and now might be the time to make the move to a smartphone. The alternative is to manually switch your SMS notifications out for email alerts within the settings for individual events, both recurring ones and those that you create going forward. But bear in mind that, without an internet-connected smartphone, you won’t have access to email notifications of event alterations while you’re on the move.

If you are using a corporate Google account designed for education, government or business, you’re safe - for now, support continues for SMS notifications for users of these services. But if you rely on a personal account to power your Google Calendar scheduling, you’ll need to adapt to the change in time for the June 27 switchover.

Want to learn more about using Calendar and other Google apps to streamline your personal and business lives? Give us a call and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.