Google launched its Apps Marketplace back in March, effectively inviting companies to create business software for the cloud that would sit alongside the standard set of Google Apps.
Marketplace apps can take data from the existing apps, so can utilize your e-mail contacts database, for example, or your spreadsheets. Additionally, you can login to marketplace apps using your Google domains account for seamless switching between apps.
There was something of a slow start but the Marketplace is looking healthy and is well worth a look. Listed below are five apps that are free and offer highly useful functionality for small to medium sized businesses.
You'll need your own Google Apps domain to utilize these apps. They can't be used with standard Google accounts (those with a free Gmail address), although they work fine with the free 50-user version of Google Apps.
Installing marketplace apps to your domain is usually a matter of clicking the Add It Now button on the product page, typing your domain name when prompted, and agreeing to various terms and conditions. Sometimes a little configuration is necessary, as detailed below. Once installed, you can access the apps from the More menu at the top left of any Google Apps page, such as your inbox.
Rhino Accounting is free double-entry accounting app in the same style as QuickBooks. Once it's installed you can track income against expenditure, create invoices (which can then be seamlessly e-mailed), and even create paychecks. Rhino isn't for the newbie accountant, lacking setup wizards or even help files, but anybody with a knowledge of existing accounting packages or practices will find the interface intuitive.
>Integration with Google Apps comes in the form of importing contacts, although at present you must create entries for companies manually, and only companies can be invoiced. However, each company you deal with need only be added once.
Despite Rhino being free, support is also free of charge and by all accounts of high quality.
A successful business is one that shares intelligence among its employees, and that can take the form of useful Websites. You can share interesting links among your Google Apps users via the Appogee Bookmarks app. This adds a panel to your iGoogle home page or e-mail inbox that lists URLs. More can be added by any user. Anybody within your domain who also has the Bookmarks app installed can then view the bookmarks.
Once the app is installed, you'll need to enable a Google Labs feature that allows you to add a gadget by its URL. This can be done by clicking the Settings link within your inbox, then the Labs link, and then putting a check alongside Add Any Gadget by URL. Click the Save Changes button and then access Settings again, this time clicking the Gadgets link. Then, in the URL field, enter the following, replacing mydomain.com at the end of the link with your Google Apps domain, such as: http://appogeebookmarks.appspot.com/gadget?hd=mydomain.com .
Click the Add button and, upon returning to your Inbox, you'll find the Bookmarks app window below your chat window at the left. Adding a link you want to share is a matter of clicking the "plus" icon and entering the details. Clicking the Domain checkbox will share it with the rest of your users. Otherwise it will remain a private link only visible by you.
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