Google's Android apps have been totally revamped, with tons of productivity-boosting new features for business users. The updates come as Google launches Android 5.0 Lollipop, a brand-new version of its mobile operating system, though only a handful of new smartphones have received the update so far. Fortunately, you don't need Lollipop to download the refreshed Google apps. Just search for the app you want in the Google Play store and tap "Update." Here's a quick rundown of five revamped apps that will help you do your job.
Of the bunch, Google Calendar received the most significant overhaul. It doesn't just look better – it's actually smarter and more functional. For starters, the app can automatically grab event information from your email and turn them into events on your calendar, all on its own. For example, if you schedule a flight, the date, time and location will be pulled from your inbox and automatically added to your schedule – no copying and pasting needed.
It can also pull in details like photos, phone numbers and email addresses from your address book, making it easy to add attendees to meetings. Plus, the app will actually learn who you add most often to make suggestions later. For example, if you always meet you colleague Susan on Monday mornings, Google Calendar will automatically suggest you add her when you create new meeting events scheduled around the same time.
Finally, the Schedule view got a complete visual makeover, and it now automatically adds relevant photos, maps and illustrations to your events. It looks great, and the visual cues actually help you take in your schedule at a glance.
You used to have to juggle two separate apps to manage both your work email and personal Gmail account on one Android device – but no more. The updated Gmail app can now handle multiple addresses, including any POP/IMAP email address, so you can add all your accounts and access them all in the same place. That includes Web mail like Yahoo Mail and Outlook, as well as separate work email addresses. And switching between accounts requires just a few taps. There are also a variety of small interface changes, like color-coded tags next to new messages to help you visually sort them, and a big, convenient reply button at the bottom of every message you open.
Google Drive is a handy cloud storage platform that lets you keep your files backed up and accessible from anywhere – and a few updates make it ever better. For starters, you can now share documents, images and other files stored on Google Drive during a Google Hangouts video chat. Just tap the Drive icon in the bottom right corner of the Hangouts window. The feature could really come in handy if you use Hangouts to meet remotely with clients, employees or colleagues.
The app also received a refreshed layout, with easier access to frequently-used options. Tap the large "+" icon in the bottom corner to quickly upload a file or photograph from your device, create a folder, or create a new Docs, Sheets or Slides app inside your Google Drive folder.
Google Docs, Sheets and Slides
Speaking of Google's mobile office apps, Docs, Sheets and Slides received a number of updates themselves. That includes a fresh coat of paint on all three apps, as well as new features. For instance, the Docs app has a new "Make a copy" option (accessible under Share & Export in the options menu) that lets you quickly create a new document using the same template as the one you're currently working on. In Sheets, you can now tap and drag to select multiple cells at once while editing a formula. Finally, Google says that keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+C (for copying test) are more reliable when you're using a Bluetooth keyboard with your Android tablet.
Google also added a more powerful search feature that lets you color-code items, then filter items by color. You can also now search for images, audio files and shared lists.Its features list may not be on par with Evernote, but Google Keep is still a handy little app for business users who want a pared-down to-do-list application. And now it's better for teams and small businesses, thanks to a few fresh updates. The most noteworthy addition is the ability to share lists in real time with other Google Keep users. When you're viewing a shared list, you can even see edits as they happen. When your team is working on a project, the feature could help keep everyone on the same page.