Google Extends Labs Experiment to Google Apps
Ever since it launched, Google Labs for Gmail has rolled out a string of add-on features that allow developers and savvy users to customize Gmail and add new features without waiting for Google to make official updates. Labs has apparently proven such a success that Google is extending the idea to Google Apps.
There are, however, some important differences in the Labs for Google Apps version. The features are aimed primarily at “enterprise” and small business customers. To use the new apps you need to have a Google Apps for your Domain account and you’ll need administrator privileges to turn on the new features.
For the launch there are three new apps — Google Moderator, Google Code Reviews and Google Short Links. All of them run on top of the new Google Apps platform and, unlike their Gmail Labs cousins, these are standalone apps, not just feature add-ons.
The new tools offer the following extra features for your domain:
- Google Moderator — the oldest of the bunch, Moderator provides the tools for creating and moderating a discussion forum and group Q&A sessions.
- Google Code Reviews — as the name suggests, Code Reviews gives developers a way to share code for peer review.
- Short Links — a URL shortener not unlike the very popular TinyURL, except that this one works with your domain and can be monitored by administrators.
Google says that these are just the first of many new products that will make their debut in Labs for Google Apps. If Gmail Labs is any indicator, Labs for Google Apps should prove popular. Eventually Google plans to open the platform up to all App Engine developers (at the moment all the apps are built by Google), but so far there’s no word on when that might happen.