5 New Google Apps Features to Keep You Organized, Productive

Google rolls out a number of updates to its Apps suite every month. Here are five of the best ones you may have missed.

Tue, June 14, 2011

CIO — The constant evolution of Google (GOOG) Apps means there's never a shortage of updates to its suite of productivity tools. The last month was no exception, either: Among its many tweaks and new components are five updates that stand out from the rest.

From pivot tables that help you decipher your data to an easier way to manage your calendar, check out these five features you may have missed that keep you organized and productive.

1. Gmail's People Widget

Gmail's new People Widget does a few things to help keep you organized. First, it aggregates contextual information about your contacts that is already available to you, but might be hard to find.

For example, the new widget—which is rolling out to everyone over the next few weeks—displays a contact's latest Buzz update, most recent emails to you, their calendar and availability and recent shared documents.

The People Widget also provides quick ways to contact the person, displaying buttons under the contact's information to chat, email or talk with them, as well as buttons to start a group chat session and schedule meetings.

[Gmail Tips and Tricks for the Power User]

2. Pivot Tables in Google Spreadsheets

Pivot tables let you summarize large quantities of data according to factors that you specify in order to get high-level insights on what your data means. For example, retail chains may have thousands of data points that represent purchases. Pivot tables are an ideal way for managers to view the total annual revenue for each region without having to enter multiple formulas.

To create a pivot table, open a Google Spreadsheet that contains your data. Select all the data, then choose Data from the toolbar. Scroll to "Pivot table report" and select the rows and columns to analyze, as well as the values. Your pivot table will appear, and can be reorganized by moving sections within the Report Editor up or down.

3. Appointment Slots in Google Calendar

Finding a preferred meeting time can be a hassle as many execs' schedules are constantly changing. One new update to Google Apps, called "Appointment Slots," aims to make scheduling a little easier.

Appointment Slots lets you set and share with others times during the day when you are available. To start, create blocks of time you'd like to offer as appointment slots. Click anywhere on your calendar, then on "Appointment slots." From there, create a single block of time or automatically split a larger block into smaller appointment slots.

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