Google announced the changes to its video calling app Duo and messaging app Allo. When Duo originally launched, it had an odd omission: You could use it for a video call, but not an audio-only call. Now, Google fixed this; the company says audio calls will work well even on slow connections and won't eat up much data. Google Allo is also getting an important feature: file sharing. The option was a highly requested one in some markets, and now all Android users can use the app to share .pdf, .docs, .apk, .zip, and .mp3 documents.
Hootsuite, a platform that helps enterprises and brands manage their presence on social media, has acquired a Snapchat analytics solution from Naritiv to help customers track their activities on this social platform. Hootsuite today allows its customers — 15 million in total, with “hundreds of thousands” taking the paid tier of service — to manage social media across dozens of sites, from Twitter (where Hootsuite first got its start) and Facebook through to LinkedIn and many more. Today’s acquisition signifies Hootsuite’s first move to bring Snapchat into that fold.
LinkedIn, the social network for the working world that is now owned by Microsoft, is adding a new “enterprise” tier to its Sales Navigator product — a subscription-only service that lets salespeople tap LinkedIn for customer leads for so-called “social selling” — opening up the product for much larger groups of users. On top of this, it’s also integrating PointDrive (a tool it acquired last year to help salespeople share documents and presentations with clients); and adding CRM sync functionality to write back to whichever CRM database your company uses whatever selling you have done in LinkedIn.
Viber for iOS and Android got an update today that brings “Secret Chats” to the service for the first time. Like Snapchat, Facebook, Telegram and many others before it, Viber now enables its users to set a timer for their messages, after which they will self-destruct. The new feature also alerts a user if the person to whom they are talking takes a screenshot — that’s another feature that Snapchat pioneered. Viber appears to be pushing its security credentials in a bit to differentiate itself from the rest. It added end-to-end encryption and hidden chats last year.
Microsoft's Slack rival - Teams - is now available, and free, for all 85 million monthly active users of Office 365, Microsoft’s suite of cloud services and apps as a web app and native apps for Windows, iOS and Android. Along with it, the company is announcing some 150 integrations with third-party services like Asana, Zendesk and Hootsuite, alongside the ability to chat (with other humans or with bots), security services, customization options and more. For a new app that is coming to the market after the meteoric rise of Slack, as well as other competing services like Workplace from Facebook and Hipchat from Atlassian, some might argue that Teams and Microsoft are late to the game. In its favor, Microsoft is banking on the low-friction aspect of the service: Those being targeted are already using Microsoft apps like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint and Power BI, so there will be familiarity and convenience. And it’s free to try out.
Google launched the new version of its platform-as-a-service for building application backends App Engine.The big news is that App Engine now supports any programming language, so a developer can create the app in whatever language they are comfortable using. Google sees this as a game changer, making the platform more open, which is a big theme with the company as it transitions to try and lure enterprise customers to Google Cloud Platform in general. In the previous version there was a limited set of runtime libraries and once you built an application, it was very difficult to take it out of Google. The company has indicated that part of its philosophy on being open means making it easy to move and avoid lock-in, even if that means leaving Google Cloud Platform.
Google launched an improved always-free tier and trial program for its Cloud Platform. The free tier, which now offers enough power to run a small app in Google’s cloud, now allows for free usage of a small (f1-micro) instance in Compute Engine, Cloud Pub/Sub, Google Cloud Storage and Cloud Functions. In total, the free tier now includes 15 services. The addition of the Compute Engine instance and 5GB of free Cloud Storage usage is probably the most important update here because those are, after all, the services that are at the core of most cloud applications. You can find the exact limits here. With this move, Google is clearly stepping up its attacks against AWS, which offers a similar but more limited free tier program for its users.
Google introduced several updates to its online file storage service Google Drive, which all aim to make it more useful for the company’s business and enterprise users. To better support the enterprise, though, Google is mostly focusing on making Drive a better service for teams. That means Team Drives, Google’s solution for enterprise file sharing that launched in preview last year, is now generally available, for example. During the preview, which lasted about six months, the team identified a number of issues, especially around permissions, that it needed to fix ahead of a general launch, and it’s now ready to open the project up to all businesses. Also generally available now is Google Vault for Drive, which offers tools to support the archiving and data retention needs of large enterprises, especially in regulated industries.
Google is making massive changes to Hangouts to make it more business-friendly. The service will be splitted into two separate apps: Hangouts Meet, a videoconferencing app, and Hangouts Chat, a Slack-like messaging app designed for teams. Meet is a revamped version of Hangouts' video calling features, with a few new additions designed for businesses. Like the old Hangouts, it supports video calls of up to 30 people and participants can join via their desktop or the mobile app. While anyone with a Gmail account can use Meet, Hangouts Chat is just for Google's enterprise users. Essentially a full-on Slack competitor, the service allows teams within organizations to chat and supports a variety of third-party integrations, including bots and other productivity apps. Google also created its own bot for the app, which will schedule meetings on your behalf.
Last year Google added support for Exchange accounts in Gmail app for Android so you can use one familiar mail app for both work and personal business. Now you can also sync your tasks with Exchange so you can always stay on top of your task list, even when you’re on the go. You can create a task, edit its date or priority, and flag an email as a to-do for later response. With a unified tasks list, it's easy for you to focus on your important tasks and check things off the list once you’re done. The simple swipe to mark as complete can be just as rewarding. Gmail app for Android is enterprise-ready, so your IT department can securely deploy it. Gmail app also works with managed configurations so you can skip any complicated setup steps.