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New Hangouts settings and password recovery updates hit Google Apps in May

Notable new features:

  • Self-service password recovery in Google Apps
  • Collaboration comes to Google Classroom
  • Overhaul to Hangouts settings

 

Protect Google and Google Apps Accounts with Password Alert

Today Google is launching Password Alert, an open-source Chrome extension that helps protect Google and Google Apps Accounts from phishing attacks and encourages people to use different passwords for different sites, a security best practice.

When an employee with Password Alert installed enters their Google password into any site other than an authentic Google sign-in page (accounts.google.com), that employee will receive an email notifying them to change their password.

In addition, Google Apps admins can choose to deploy an App Engine App that allows for, among other things, auditing and notifications to admins when employees enter their passwords into non-Google websites, and the ability to force those employees to change their passwords after doing so.

As an admin, you can install the Password Alert Chrome extension for all or some members of your domain. To get started with Password Alert, check out the Help Center and FAQ linked below. The Help Center includes a useful Deployment Guide, which outlines the options and requirements for enabling Password Alert for your domain.

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Animation improvements in Google Slides

Animations are an easy way to make your presentations look more dynamic in Google Slides. Starting today, you can improve your Slides presentations with two new animations: Appear and Disappear. You can also now set the direction (to and from left, right, top, and bottom) of two previously existing animations: Fly in and Fly out.

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Teaching teams: New ways to work together in Classroom

Google Classroom allows teachers to spend less time on paperwork and more time with their students. Starting today, multiple teachers can work and collaborate in a single Classroom class. With the exception of deleting the class altogether, additional teachers can perform all of the same functions as the primary teacher, including:

  • Creating assignments and announcements
  • Viewing and grading submissions
  • Participating in comments on the class’ “stream”
  • Inviting students to the class
  • Receiving email notifications related to the class

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Teachers can also prep for their classes in advance, saving announcements and assignments as “drafts” and waiting to send them until they’re ready. Like in Gmail, once a new announcement or assignment is created, it will be automatically saved as a draft. Those drafts can then be accessed by multiple teachers, making it simple to collaborate on prep work.

Finally, in response to teacher feedback, Google has made two additional changes that will make Classroom easier to use:

  • Autosaving grades – Grades will now be autosaved as they’re entered, meaning teachers can grade assignments over multiple sessions but still return those assignments to students all at one time.
  • Improved notifications – Teachers and students will now receive email notifications when private messages are left on assignments.

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New sharing options, languages and more with the latest version of the Google Drive Android app

A new version of the Google Drive Android app is coming to Google Play over the next week. New features include:

  • After uploading a file, the ability to add people to sharing settings and share a link directly from the upload notification:
  • Ability to access a contact’s extended information from the sharing section of the details pane of a file in Drive
  • Ability to remove a parent of a file from the details pane when a file is multi-parented
  • Support for 23 new languages (Afrikaans, Amharic, Armenian, Basque, Bengali, Chinese (Hong Kong), Estonian, French (Canada), Galician, Georgian, Icelandic, Kannada, Khmer, Lao, Malayalam, Marathi, Mongolian, Nepali, Sinhala, Swahili, Tamil, Telugu, Zulu)
  • PDF viewer improvements (better scrolling and handling of multi-layout PDFs)
  • Performance and UI improvements
  • They’ve also corrected an issue where Drive was not properly preventing uploads for accounts where Drive had been turned off by Apps admins.

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New versions of the Google Docs editor apps

New versions of the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps for Android are now available on Google Play and a new version of the Docs app for iOS is available in the App Store. New features include:

  • Docs
  • Accept, reject, or comment on suggestions (Android and iOS)
  • Tracked changes and comments in Word files (Android and iOS)
  • Edit tables (iOS only, already available on Android)
  • Sheets
  • Move, resize, and delete charts
  • Slides
  • Reorder objects to the front or back
  • Quicker loading and scrolling of PowerPoint presentations from the app

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New admin policy and compliance controls for Google Hangouts chat

Google Hangouts provides an end-to-end chat solution for Google Apps customers, allowing people within an organization to securely communicate with one another across all devices and platforms.

Today Google is adding two new policy options for Apps admins to give them greater control of how Hangouts chat is used in their domains, as well as introducing Google Apps Vault for Hangouts.

New chat policy options

Admins will now see two new options in the Hangouts chat settings in the Admin console, allowing them to:

  • Force Hangouts chat history to be on or off
  • Require only Hangouts chat to be used

While admins could previously default all Hangouts chat conversation history to on or off, chat participants could change this on a per-conversation basis. With this new feature, admins can ensure chat participants cannot change this setting for new conversations. This also means that participants with Hangouts chat history forced on will not be able to communicate with participants with chat history forced off.

To enforce the Hangouts chat history policy, the new Hangouts chat only option must be selected. Please note that chat within Docs and Hangouts video calls will not be available for those customers who select the Hangouts chat only option. In addition, third party chat clients will not work with the Hangouts chat only option enabled.

Vault for Hangouts

Google Apps Vault lets you retain, archive, search, and export user data for your eDiscovery and compliance needs. With today’s launch, they’ll now extend Vault to support Hangouts chat history. For customers already using Vault, full chat retention for all messages will start automatically once chat history is forced on using the new setting.

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Month view added to Google Calendar app for Android

Google launched the new Google Calendar app for Android last year, helping to save you time and make the most of every day. In February, They launched an updated version containing several additional features based on user feedback, and today they’re doing the same again.

Month view has been added (back) to the latest version of the Google Calendar app for phones, coming to Google Play over the next few days.

Month view provides a high level view of all scheduled events for a full month, allowing people to then tap on a specific day for a closer look. Access to all available views (Schedule, Day, 3 Day, Week, Month) has also been moved from the overflow menu into the navigation drawer.

In addition, you can now see the color of events when jumping to a particular date from the drop down in the header when in Schedule, Day, 3 Day or Week view.

Google is working on bringing many improvements to the new iPhone app as well.

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Set custom alerts on audit events for Google Apps admins

Admin alerts help give Google Apps admins visibility into important events within their domain, such as potentially suspicious login attempts, or service setting changes by other administrators.

Previously, admins could turn on pre-defined alerts for various user activities, settings changes, and mail flow events. Today Google is launching a new feature that allows admins to set up custom alerts for any of the following audit stream types:

  • Admin audit
  • Tokens audit
  • Calendar audit
  • Login audit
  • Drive audit (Google Drive for Work and Google Apps for Education customers only)

Custom alerts give admins the flexibility to name and define the triggering audit stream event, add granular criteria like specifying the username of the person who performs the activity (e.g. Alert me when andrew@mycompany.com deletes a calendar) and specify who will receive any corresponding alerts.

Set alerts by clicking the ‘Set Alert’ button on any audit page within the Reports section:

Admins can view and edit custom alerts from the ‘Manage alerts’ page within the Reports section:

Setting alerts on Drive events:
Google Drive for Work and Google Apps for Education customers will now be able to configure alerts on sensitive Drive events like making a document public or a change in sharing permissions.

Check out the Help Center for more details.

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Follow up: Google+ Photos coming to Google Drive

Earlier this week, Google announced that the photos and videos you keep in Google+ Photos will now be available in Google Drive. This feature will begin rolling out to Google Apps customers during the week of April 6th.

A few things to note in advance of next week’s rollout:

  • All users will see a new menu item in Drive called Google Photos, including those who don’t currently use Google+ Photos.
  • Upon launch, a notification in the Drive web UI will give users the option to add a Google Photos folder to their My Drive, allowing them to manage their photos and videos alongside other types of files. They can also control this feature via Drive Settings > General > “Automatically put your Google Photos into a folder in My Drive.”
    • If the user opts to create the Google Photos folder in My Drive, and is also a Sync Client user, they may want to go to Sync Client Preferences -> “Sync Options” and selectively remove the new Google Photos folder from syncing to their desktop.
    • Users can rename, move, share or delete the Photos folder in My Drive as needed.
    • If at any time a user unchecks the setting to put Google Photos into the Photos folder in My Drive, the folder will continue to exist (unless deleted by the user) but no new photos will flow in.
  • Photos and videos that do count against quota that are backed up to Drive via Auto Backup will only count once against a storage limit, but Apps users may want to review their Google+ Photos Auto Backup settings to avoid inadvertent syncing to their corporate Drive account.

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Self-service password recovery for Google Apps users

Password recovery can be a frustrating and time-consuming activity for both Google Apps admins and the people in their domains who have been locked out of their accounts. With today’s launch, Google is giving admins the option to reduce their workload, and save time for those who have been locked out of their accounts, by enabling the ability for non-admins to reset their own passwords.

This new feature is defaulted off at launch and can be enabled from the Admin console at: Security > Basic settings > Password Management. In the Password recovery section, click on “Enable/disable non-admin user password recovery.”

Non-admins must have set up a recovery phone in order to reset their own password. Admins should check the Help Center for considerations regarding 2-Step Verification, off-boarding, and hijacked accounts before enabling this feature.

Note: this feature is not available for customers using Single Sign-on (SSO).

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An update on the new Google Drive UI

Last year, Google started the gradual rollout of the new Google Drive UI as the default user experience for Rapid release Google Apps customers, while retaining the ability to return to the old Drive UI via the Settings drop down. After pausing the rollout to work on some performance improvements, the rollout was resumed and completed earlier this month.

For Scheduled release customers, the rollout of the new Google Drive UI as the default user experience will occur in early-April (currently planned for April 7, as per the release calendar).

In the first half of May at the earliest, they’ll remove the option to return to the old Drive UI via the Settings drop down. At least two weeks before the removal of the option to return to the old Drive UI, Google will show a notification in the Drive UI about the upcoming change.

Please note that the new Drive UI does not work with older unsupported browsers prior to and including Chrome 23, Firefox 23, IE9 and Safari 6, so it’s important to upgrade to a supported browser to ensure continued access to Drive.

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