Google Apps Users Get Full Google Citizenship
Google Apps--the suite of Web-based productivity tools that's useful for everybody from individual consumers to big businesses--is among the best products Google has come up with to date. But if you have a Google Apps account, there's been far more stuff that wasn't available than was: everything from major services such as Picasa and Google Voice to potentially useful obscurities such as Google Base. That's because logging into a Google Apps account only provided access to Gmail, the Google Docs office editors, Google Sites, and a few other services.
Starting today, that's changed: Sign up for Google Apps, and you can use your account to access more than sixty Google services. Why did it take so long? The company says it wanted to make sure that its infrastructure was ready to handle it. And it wasn't always sure that companies would want a consumery service such as the Picasa's photo albums to be part of a business-oriented offering like Google Apps. But it says that many customers have asked for Picasa, Blogger, and other services that haven't been part of Apps. And some of the new arrivals, such as Google Analytics, are very businessy.
Those organizations that don't want one or more Google services to be part of their version of Apps can turn them off so that people can't see them:
Google is also modifying the names of Google Apps' various versions slightly: The old Standard Edition-which is free and which can serve from one to fifty users-is now just Google Apps. The Premier Edition, which costs $50 per user, is now Google Apps for Business. The Government Edition is now Google Apps for Government. And the Education Edition is now Google Apps for Education.
With this news, standard Google accounts and Apps accounts are nearly at feature parity, but aren't quite identical: The Apps version of Gmail, for instance, lacks Google Buzz. (Google says it may add it eventually.)
I've been using the new all-encompassing version of Google Apps for a few weeks as part of Apps' early adopter program. Up until now, I've tended to jump back and forth between Apps and a standard Google account-but being able to get at Google in all its glory from the account that I use for Technologizer business has been mighty handy.
Here's Google's own video explanation of what's new: