Tag Archives: Google

Google Hangouts Meet adds interoperability with competitors

Businesses will soon be able to join meetings on Google’s web conferencing platform, Google Hangouts Meet, using Microsoft Skype for Business and video conferencing systems from Cisco and Polycom.

At the same time, Google is helping several competing video conferencing vendors better integrate with Google Calendar, so users will be able to schedule and join meetings on those platforms without downloads or plug-ins.  

The announcements underscore Google’s commitment to competing with Microsoft Office 365 in the enterprise collaboration market. The consumer tech giant continues to invest in G Suite’s cloud-based applications for web conferencing and team messaging, while also embracing integrations with a wide range of vendors.

“Google has remained a market contender in video conferencing for several years,” said Roopam Jain, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “However, its direction in the past was not concerted, and it seemed to be waiting to squarely jump in with an enterprise-ready tool.”

Google is now partnering with startup Pexip to make Google Hangouts Meet interoperable with standards-based video hardware and Skype for Business, starting later this month. Pexip’s code works behind the scenes, so everyone can participate in the same meeting from different interfaces.

Google Hangouts Meet’s incompatibility with third-party communications applications has slowed adoption of the product since its release last year, particularly among businesses already invested in video conferencing products from legacy vendors, Jain said.

“This is a smart move by Google in a very competitive market, where businesses look for a stable and open collaboration platform that they can invest in,” Jain said. It could also convince more existing G Suite customers to start using Google Hangouts Meet, positioning Google “as a viable alternative to any other leading video conferencing solution in the market,” she said.

Google Calendar add-ons for video conferencing

Cisco Webex is working with Google to let customers schedule and join Webex meetings directly from Google Calendar. The vendors Arkadin, GoToMeeting, LogMeIn, Dialpad, RingCentral, Vidyo and Vonage are working on similar add-ons, Google said.

Google will make those add-ons available in the G Suite app store “in the coming months.” It plans to release details for developers so additional web conferencing vendors can sync with Google Calendar in the future.

Google is also expanding its interoperability with Microsoft Exchange, announcing it will make it possible for G Suite users to book rooms, equipment and other resources registered in Exchange.

Google Hangouts Chat to add guest access

Businesses using Google Hangouts Chat will be able to add external participants to communication channels in the coming months — a feature already supported by all other leading team collaboration apps on the market today.

Google made Hangouts Chat available to G Suite subscribers earlier this year to keep its enterprise portfolio competitive with Microsoft Office 365, which includes Microsoft Teams.

In a 2018 Nemertes Research survey of more than 600 businesses, 10.5% of respondents cited Hangouts Chat as their primary tool for team collaboration. Google ranked fourth behind Microsoft Teams (32.9%), Cisco Spark (21.1%) and Slack (14.5%).

Google is continuing to improve its collaboration products, but it still needs to integrate them with Gmail better, said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. For example, users should be able to launch a chat from a Gmail thread.

“They will grow as a threat, while at the same time also integrating with potential competitors,” Lazar said.

3 brilliant design details from the new Microsoft Office

Since the introduction of Google Docs, many of us avoid Microsoft Office like the plague. But Office is still a mainstay in business. Excel, for instance, is the untouchable spreadsheet champion of the world, which is why a remarkable 1 billion people on the planet still use the software suite. And for all of them, Microsoft is rolling out a series of welcome design updates that should make the experience better. The company is focusing on creating simplicity–but without costing users power.

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These updates are a year in the works and promise to be but the first of many starting this June. “We’re on the beginning of the journey. I want to make that part clear,” says Jon Friedman, chief designer on Microsoft Office. “This is not the older world of software where you deliver something and move on to the next thing.” Here are three new features that aren’t just useful–they show where Microsoft is taking its flagship business tools.

A simplified ribbon

Here’s a staggering stat: 95% of people use only 10 commands in the top “ribbon” bar of Outlook. That means that of 32 (or so) functions that might be in a typical Outlook bar, 22 are wasted space. So Microsoft hid them, spreading those functions across various tabs. And that’s true whether you’re in Outlook or Word.

[Image: Microsoft]

Microsoft paired less information with cleaner information by remaking all of the functions as clean, wireframe icons. They’re actually optimized for accessibility for the vision impaired, and scale to tiny sizes clearly. But they also give the ribbon a sense of white space that was lacking before, allowing you, as Friedman puts it, to focus on your emails rather than your menus.

AI Buttons

But can a simpler menu bar become too simple? In some cases, yes. So Microsoft had to negotiate where–and how–to surface the rest of the program’s deep library of commands. “It turns out, 95% of the things people do are 10 commands in Outlook,” Friedman reiterates. “The other 5% are the 11th, 12th, and 13th commands that I use, and they’re completely different from the 11th, 12th, and 13th commands that you use.” In other words, we’re all the same user until the point we’re different. And when we’re different, we’re incredibly different.

[Image: Microsoft]

To accommodate each unique case, Microsoft deployed AI. Tap on a search bar, and search lists the top three commands on your screen that you’re most likely to need–customized to you. The technology is called “0-Query” and it doesn’t even need you to type in the search bar to give you a predictive answer. Truth be told, it’s similar to the way that iOS and Android suggest apps that you’re likely to open at any given time, but it’s the first time we’ve seen this tool applied to desktop productivity software.

“We’re very [focused on] anticipating people’s needs,” says Friedman. “We think this is what’s going to allow us to find that balance between simplicity and power.”

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Emotional Understanding

Another addition? “We have this little Coming Soon button in Outlook, and we want to give [users] a heads up,” says Friedman. “If an Outlook visual refresh is coming soon, we show them it’s coming up, and ask them if it helps [to get the heads up].”

Sounds minor, right? Why create this feature?

[Image: Microsoft]

As part of the design process, Microsoft did empathic research, surveying users to figure out what made their favorite productivity apps their favorites–and that included studying their own software and that of competitors.

What Microsoft concluded was that people wanted to feel three sensations when working with business tools: productive, in control, and safe. And they wanted to avoid two feelings: inadequacy and uncertainty.

Moving forward, Microsoft wants to focus many of its design updates in Office in response to these core emotions. Perhaps that sounds too heady, but it’s not really that complicated.

A perfect example of how small design features can quell uncertainty? “If you chase [features] without understanding the emotional response to them, then you might find yourself in a place where you have something highly efficient but not enjoyable,” says Friedman.

Research claims ‘widespread’ Google Groups misconfiguration troubles

A new report claims a significant number of G Suite users misconfigured Google Groups settings and exposed sensitive data, but the research leave unanswered questions about the extent of the issue.

According to Kenna Security research, there is a “widespread” Google Groups misconfiguration problem wherein Groups are set to public and are exposing potentially sensitive email data that could lead to “spearphishing, account takeover, and a wide variety of case-specific fraud and abuse.” Last year, Redlock Cloud Security Intelligence also found Google Groups misconfiguration responsible for exposure of data from hundreds of accounts.

Kenna said it sampled 2.5 million top-level domains and found 9,637 public Google Groups. Of those public Groups, the researchers sampled 171 and determined 31% of those organizations “are currently leaking some form of sensitive email” with a confidence level of 90%.

“Extrapolating from the original sample, it’s reasonable to assume that in total, over 10,000 organizations are currently inadvertently exposing sensitive information,” Kenna wrote in its blog post. “The affected organizations including Fortune 500 organizations; Hospitals; Universities and Colleges; Newspapers and Television stations; Financial Organizations; and even U.S. government agencies.”

For context, there are currently more than 3 million paid G Suite accounts and an unknown number of free G Suite accounts, and Kenna acknowledged via email that they “do not believe [they] tested the vast majority of G Suite enabled domains.” Additionally, Google confirmed that Groups are set to private by default and an administrator would need to actively choose to make a Group public or allow other users to create public Groups.

It is unclear how many G Suite accounts are set to public, but a source close to the situation said the vast majority of Google Groups are set to private, and Google has sent out messages to users who may be affected with instructions on how to fix the Google Groups misconfiguration.

Specifics versus extrapolation         

Kenna Security’s research likened the Google Groups misconfiguration issue to the recent spate of Amazon Web Server (AWS) exposures where S3 buckets were accidentally left public.

“Ultimately, each organization is responsible for the configuration of their systems. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure organizations can easily understand the public/private state for something as critical as internal email,” a Kenna spokesperson wrote via email. “For example, when the AWS buckets leak occurred, AWS changed its UX, exposing a ‘Public’ badge on buckets and communicated proactively to owners of public buckets. In practice, public Google Group configurations require less effort to find than public S3 buckets, and often have more sensitive information exposed, due to the nature of email.”

However, a major difference between the research from Kenna and that done by UpGuard in uncovering multiple public AWS buckets is in the details. Kenna is extrapolating from a sample to claim approximately 10,000 of 3 million Google Groups (0.3%) are misconfigured, and the examples of exposed emails reveal the potential for spearphishing attacks or fraud.

On the other hand, UpGuard specifically attributed the exposed data it found, including Republican National Committee voter rolls for 200 million individuals, info on 14 million Verizon customers, data scraped from LinkedIn and Facebook, and NSA files detailing military projects.  

Alex Calic, chief strategy and revenue officer of The Media Trust, said Google “made the right call by making private the default setting.”

“At the end of the day, companies are responsible for collaborating with their digital partners/vendors on improving and maintaining their security posture,” Calic wrote via email. “This requires developing and sharing their policies on what information can be shared on workplace communication tools like Google Groups and who can access that information, keeping in mind that — given how sophisticated hackers are becoming and the ever-present insider threat, whether an attack or negligence — there is always some risk that the information will see the light of day.”

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

Hi there guys,

I’m selling two of these Hp Google Chromebooks (11.6 inch CB2 model) they are both in fairly good condition with a few surface marks here and there. They have great IPS displays and are quick and snappy for day to day tasks.

Sadly the original chargers broke so I have replaced them with standard micro usb chargers…the only downside to this is they take longer to charge as the original usb chargers were 3amp.

No boxes, just the chromebook, cable and charger…any…

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

Hi there guys,

I’m selling two of these Hp Google Chromebooks (11.6 inch CB2 model) they are both in fairly good condition with a few surface marks here and there. They have great IPS displays and are quick and snappy for day to day tasks.

Sadly the original chargers broke so I have replaced them with standard micro usb chargers…the only downside to this is they take longer to charge as the original usb chargers were 3amp.

No boxes, just the chromebook, cable and charger…any…

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

Hi there guys,

I’m selling two of these Hp Google Chromebooks (11.6 inch CB2 model) they are both in fairly good condition with a few surface marks here and there. They have great IPS displays and are quick and snappy for day to day tasks.

Sadly the original chargers broke so I have replaced them with standard micro usb chargers…the only downside to this is they take longer to charge as the original usb chargers were 3amp.

No boxes, just the chromebook, cable and charger…any…

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

Hi there guys,

I’m selling two of these Hp Google Chromebooks (11.6 inch CB2 model) they are both in fairly good condition with a few surface marks here and there. They have great IPS displays and are quick and snappy for day to day tasks.

Sadly the original chargers broke so I have replaced them with standard micro usb chargers…the only downside to this is they take longer to charge as the original usb chargers were 3amp.

No boxes, just the chromebook, cable and charger…any…

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

Hi there guys,

I’m selling two of these Hp Google Chromebooks (11.6 inch CB2 model) they are both in fairly good condition with a few surface marks here and there. They have great IPS displays and are quick and snappy for day to day tasks.

Sadly the original chargers broke so I have replaced them with standard micro usb chargers…the only downside to this is they take longer to charge as the original usb chargers were 3amp.

No boxes, just the chromebook, cable and charger…any…

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

Hi there guys,

I’m selling two of these Hp Google Chromebooks (11.6 inch CB2 model) they are both in fairly good condition with a few surface marks here and there. They have great IPS displays and are quick and snappy for day to day tasks.

Sadly the original chargers broke so I have replaced them with standard micro usb chargers…the only downside to this is they take longer to charge as the original usb chargers were 3amp.

No boxes, just the chromebook, cable and charger…any…

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″

Hi there guys,

I’m selling two of these Hp Google Chromebooks (11.6 inch CB2 model) they are both in fairly good condition with a few surface marks here and there. They have great IPS displays and are quick and snappy for day to day tasks.

Sadly the original chargers broke so I have replaced them with standard micro usb chargers…the only downside to this is they take longer to charge as the original usb chargers were 3amp.

No boxes, just the chromebook, cable and charger…any…

2 x Hp Chromebooks – 11.6″