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Editor's note: Today’s post comes from Lafeea Watson at Krispy Kreme, a global retailer of sweet treats with over 875 shops in more than 20 countries around the world. This holiday season, Krispy Kreme has chosen Chromebooks to power an in-store holiday campaign, connecting customers around the world to toast to the holidays with their coffee and doughnut, face to face. Learn more about how you can use built-in Google Apps with Chromebooks.

When Vernon Rudolph opened Krispy Kreme back in 1937 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, it was a wholesale bakery that sold doughnuts to local grocery stores. The scent of its fresh-baked doughnuts, however, was too good for passers-by to ignore, and Rudolph was faced with request after request to let people buy them on the spot. He cut a hole in the wall, allowing him to serve eager his fans directly on the sidewalk, and Krispy Kreme as we know it was born.

We’re just as dedicated to delighting our customers and giving them even more reasons to come by beyond our tasty treats today. This year, working with our creative partners at VML, we created a “Joy Goes Around Holiday Hangout” interactive experience so customers can have conversations with people in 16 countries through Hangouts and Chromebooks in 17 of our retail stores.

The Joy Goes Around Holiday campaign is an interactive in-shop experience that allows our guests at participating locations around the world to toast to the holidays through customized Krispy Kreme Hangouts. We are also creating video of customers getting into the holiday spirit that they can then share with others over social media channels.
We decided to use Chromebooks, because they are easy to set up, secure and scalable. They offer remote management via the Chrome management console, which means an IT admin in one office can set them all up regardless of where they were located. That leaves staff in the stores free to focus on serving customers food and beverages instead of doing IT support. We also wanted to make sure the Chromebooks were used just for these Hangouts, and not visiting websites that could be malicious. Chromebooks allows us to control and limit their use. The combination is highly scalable; it can be used in any number of locations to build a collective brand experience. It’s fun to have a face-to-face conversation with someone on the other side of the world with just a few clicks.

We’re thrilled that we’re helping people share a cup of coffee and an Original Glazed doughnut as if they were sitting across the table from each other. With Chromebooks and Google Hangouts, we’re bringing our global community closer together. We’re celebrating the things we have in common and the experiences that bring us joy.

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(Cross-posted on the Gmail blog and Online Security blog.)

We know that the safety and reliability of your Gmail is super important to you, which is why we’re always working on security improvements like serving images through secure proxy servers, and requiring HTTPS. Today, Gmail on the desktop is becoming more secure with support for Content Security Policy (CSP).

There are many great extensions for Gmail. Unfortunately, there are also some extensions that behave badly, loading code which interferes with your Gmail session, or malware which compromises your email’s security. Gmail’s CSP protects you, by stopping these extensions from loading unsafe code.

Most popular (and well-behaved) extensions have already been updated to work with the CSP standard, but if you happen to have any trouble with an extension, try installing its latest version from your browser’s web store (for example, the Chrome Web Store for Chrome users).

CSP is just another example of how Gmail can help make your email experience safer. For advice and tools that help keep you safe across the web, you can always visit the Google Security Center.

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90,000 hours. That’s the amount of time the average person spends working during their lifetime. To put that in perspective, if you spend 90,000 hours watching movies and did nothing else — no sleep, no breaks — you would be watching for 10 years non-stop.

Since you spend so much time at work, we want you to have the latest Google Apps updates when they're available to make working easier. That means your apps have the latest tools, security updates and speed improvements — as soon as they’re ready. And that applies across the Docs editors as well. So as a busy 2014 comes to a close, we want to highlight a few of the new ways get things done with Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings and Forms.

Work with any kind of file
You come across all types of files all day. The last thing you want to worry about is what software you need in order to view or edit these files. For this reason, we made it so you can open and edit Office files directly in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, on your desktop, phone or tablet.

Make suggestions
Editing files in real-time with others is a great way to work together across the Docs editors, and many of you asked for the ability to suggest changes in other peoples’ documents, rather than making edits directly. Now you can do just that with Suggest Edits in Docs. Make suggestions that can be accepted or rejected with a single click. And when you convert a Word file to Docs or vice versa, your tracked changes will convert as well.
Work on any of your devices.
We created new mobile apps for Docs, Sheets and Slides across Android and iOS, where you can edit your documents, presentations and spreadsheets on the go. While working in the cloud means you have access to your documents on any of these devices, you can still access or create documents even if you don’t have a data or WiFi connection.

Edit your images directly
Sometimes the best way to convey a thought is visually and you need your images to look just right, which is why we made it easier to edit and adjust images. You can now crop your images, even masking the crop to specific shapes, and add borders in Docs, Slides and Drawings. Plus, you can connect objects and images in Slides and Drawings, recolor and change opacity of images in Slides, and even add effects.

Get things done faster
We want to help you take care of your common tasks. And you know what lots of people make in documents? Bullet lists. So now, just type an asterisk (*) and it will automatically become bullets in Docs and Slides. Nobody likes having to do the same thing twice (unless you’re Santa) so just copy and paste your charts between different spreadsheets in Sheets. For all the regression lovers out there, you can also add trendlines, and to further visualize trends, you can add miniature charts, or sparklines, into individual cells.

Get answers to your surveys
Forms is a great way to gather information, and across 2014, we added lots of new ways to ask questions and get answers. You can customize themes in Forms to add your own flare and create short URLs that are easier to share. There are also lots of new question options, like limiting one response per person and shuffling the answer order.

Add tons of functionality from 3rd parties
Add-ons for Docs, Sheets and Forms are tools created by developers that help you do those extra things you need help with, whether it’s printing mailing labels or adding MLA-approved citations, right from your document.

Let there be tables
You can add borders and backgrounds to your tables, and merge cells together to get your tables to look just how you want. And when you convert your legacy files to Docs, the table cells and borders will still be there so you can keep working.
And let everyone, including blind and low-vision users, get work done
Across Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings and Forms, it’s much easier to use a screen reader, with better text-to-voice verbalization and improvements to keyboard navigation. You can now use braille support to read and enter text in Docs, Slides and Drawings. And you can collaborate easier with others in Docs, Sheets, Slides or Drawings because screen readers announce when people enter or leave the document, and you’ll hear when others are editing alongside you.

We’ll continue to make a ton of updates behind the scenes to ensure everything keeps running faster and smoother next year. Four cheers (Docs! Sheets! Slides! Forms!) for a happy work life in 2015.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Steve Cook, co-founder of CookNSolo Restaurants, a Philadelphia-based group of food enterprises. 

What happens when you stick two guys with a passion for food and restaurants in a room with a laptop? For me and my co-founder, Mike Solomonov, that scenario led to the creation of CookNSolo Restaurants, which has more than 10 restaurants in Philadelphia, from Percy Street Barbeque, inspired by authentic Texas-style barbeque, to Zahav, a high-end Israeli restaurant. People (mostly my wife) often ask how we keep up with the pace of opening and managing so many restaurants. Our answer, and secret sauce, is Google Apps.

Our most popular restaurant is Federal Donuts, a spot dedicated entirely to donuts, fried chicken and coffee. We launched it as a creative side project, but after months of consistently selling out before noon, we realized that fried chicken and uniquely flavored donuts like Salted Tehina, Marshmallow Marshmallow and Chocolate Sea Salt, really hit the spot for Philadelphians. We opened four more locations. As we grew, and as we fried more chicken along the way, we came up with another creative idea: use the 1,000 pounds of chicken bone leftovers we produced each week to make delicious soup, and donate the proceeds to a local non-profit dedicated to helping Philadelphians suffering from hunger, homelessness and poverty.

That’s how Rooster Soup Co. was born — and the idea took shape in a Google Doc. Mike and I jotted down the concept in a shared document, adding our thoughts and ideas as they came to us, and commenting on one another’s additions as we went. Whether we looked at the doc from our laptops in the same room or pulled it up separately from home, we always knew we were working with the most up-to-date document. As our idea became a more formal proposal, and our proposal needed a timeline, budget and input from our partner, the Broad Street Ministry, we extended the collaboration to six more CookNSolo team members. We added them as editors, so we could all work together in the same document, regardless of where we were and when we could get the work done. That collaboration led us to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund the new restaurant, where we’d make and sell the soup, then donate 100% of net profits to the Broad Street Ministry. Our Kickstarter closed in July, and we beat our funding goal of $150,000 to start the nonprofit.

As we continue to grow our business, we need to rely on technology more and more everyday to help us keep up the pace. We use Google Apps, which is helpful for staying on top of our customer service — not an easy feat when you grow from 2 guys to over 150 employees. For many customers, trying to contact a restaurant can feel like shouting into a black hole, so we pride ourselves by replying quickly by email. With Google Groups, any customer support or reservation inquiries go to a team of people, so if one person is on vacation, another can pick up in their absence and send a response within 24 hours. We’re also dependent on Calendar: we create invitations to track private events at each of our restaurants, inquiries about large catering order and delivery deadlines.

Along the way, Google Apps has been instrumental in helping us manage our business growth, stay creative and stay true to our mission. Who knows what's next for us, but I can guarantee that we’ve helped create our recipe for success with Google Apps.

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Editor's note: Today Avaya is announcing its Avaya Agent for Chrome, a new solution that delivers a web-based contact center application through the simplicity and speed of Chromebooks. Our guest blogger is Barry Toole at MWV (MeadWestVaco), a global leader in packaging solutions. MWV is using Avaya Agent for Chrome to streamline contact center operations for their customer service teams. Please note: this blog post content was updated on December 16, 2014 to include requested changes from MWV and Avaya.

What do perfume dispensers, frozen pizzas, and six pack beverage carriers have in common? Packaging. At MWV, we help shape consumers' experiences with products through packaging for food, beverage, tobacco, beauty and personal care, healthcare, and home and garden markets around the world. We’re everywhere our customers are – operating facilities in 30 countries and marketing our products on every continent. The global nature of our business means that many of our interactions with customers happen over the phone, and we need to make sure we’re offering the best possible experience.

We’ve been using Google Apps for our business since 2009 and recently simplified our IT environment by introducing 500 Chromebooks across the company. Employees love that Chromebooks boot up in seconds, eliminating the long reboot cycles we experienced with our old PCs. We’ve been an Avaya customer for more than 40 years and see them as the leader in contact center software. When we got the call that they were producing a contact center application for Chromebooks, we jumped at the opportunity. We knew the migration to the Avaya Agent for Chrome would be seamless because everyone here is already familiar with the Chrome browser; we easily got up and running.
We introduced the new solution to agents in our customer contact center, who take high-value orders, and employees in our logistics group, who coordinate the delivery of raw materials and finished goods. Both groups need an easy-to-use, fast solution that lets them work from anywhere. The Avaya Agent for Chrome eliminates the need to download software, saving time for end users and IT.

The Avaya Agent for Chrome also supports employee mobility. Agents can now work from home on their Chromebooks with full Avaya contact center functionality. In the event of a snowstorm or network interruption, we can move our operations to any site that has Wi-Fi. Employees no longer need a physical phone and can simply and securely carry out their jobs using only their Chromebook. As a result we’re saving costs on additional hardware.

Moving to Chromebooks has helped prepare us for a future that demands fast action and flexible ways of working. We plan to expand the Avaya Agent for Chrome solution to all MWV employees who directly interact with customers — in total, about 100 people in the contact center and logistics groups. As we scale our business to better serve our customers, we look forward to this solution growing with us without adding extra cost or complexity.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog)

The landscape of cloud technology has changed significantly since we started selling Google Apps in 2006, and our breadth of offerings has changed with it. Today, millions of companies and schools around the world turn to Google's products to help them launch, build and transform their organizations in the cloud. Our commitment to bringing the best of Google to work has also grown substantially.

Our partners are a fundamental part of our business and this effort. Partners help customers move, live and grow in the cloud by taking full advantage of the Google for Work and Education suite of products. They onboard and train new customers, manage change, create specialized software to integrate with Google Apps and develop unique solutions using Google Maps and Google Cloud Platform.

In order to meet the needs of customers moving to the cloud, and a new generation of partners, we’re updating our partner program. Our existing programs across Apps, Chrome, Cloud Platform, Maps and Search will fuse into one Google for Work and Education Partner Program. The new program allows partners to better sell, service and innovate across the Google for Work and Education suite of products and platforms.

Our new partner program is simple in design, having just three tracks, each designed to address specific customer needs (partners can join multiple tracks):

  • The Sales Track is for partners whose core competency is marketing and selling Google for Work and Education products at high volume. Selling includes ongoing account management
    and renewals associated with a partner’s customers.
  • The Services Track is for partners who provide the full range of services to customers, such as selling, consulting, training, implementing and providing technical support for Google for Work and Education products.
  • The Technology Track is for partners who create products and solutions that complement, enhance or extend the reach or functionality of Google for Work and Education products.
To ensure the best customer experience, we have also updated the requirements and application process for the Google for Work and Education Partner Program, which will roll out in early 2015. Partners will receive a range of benefits to help them better support customers, including:

  • Access to Google for Work Connect, our one-stop community for partners to access marketing campaigns, sales content, support resources and training
  • Ongoing program communications
  • Console to manage customer accounts
  • Use of the designated Google for Work or Google for Education Partner badge
  • Resale discount on the list price of our suite of products
  • Listing in our partner directory
We will also offer an updated Premier tier, which is reserved for partners that have demonstrated higher levels of excellence within their track. Premier partners will receive exclusive benefits and support, including:

  • Designated partner manager support
  • Co-marketing opportunities with Google
  • Access to marketing funding and other financial incentives
  • Exclusive training and events
  • Use of the exclusive Premier Partner badge
From Cloud Sherpas to Sprint, Ancoris to Devoteam, CDW to Promevo, and many more, our partners are helping transform businesses around the world. With the new Google for Work and Education Partner Program, we will continue to invest in creating world-class business relationships with our customers and provide the support and investment our partners deserve.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog)

Editor's note: Today’s guest author is Rudy Blanco, Digital Learning Coordinator at The DreamYard Preparatory School, in the Bronx, New York. He is a product of the New York City public school system and spent three years as a special education teacher at DreamYard Prep. In his current role, Rudy focuses on teaching students and other teachers how to learn through the use of technology.


DreamYard Prep is a public high school in the Bronx where arts and scholarship closely overlap. As a Title I public school in an underserved community, we see the unique potential of technology to prepare our students for an increasingly digital world. The culture at DreamYard Prep encourages teachers, students and staff to try innovative approaches. If you have a crazy idea, you try it out, remix it and make it work. Through this experimentation, we’re trying to achieve our ambitious goal of infusing our curriculum with the arts, social justice and digital learning.
For us, technology is a way of showing what we’ve learned, publishing and amplifying it. Before we started using Google Apps for Education three years ago, we had very basic Word Processing and outdated computers. We wanted to introduce technology that would improve gateway skills like research, communication and productivity. So at the start of the 2011 school year, we created Google accounts for all teachers, students and staff. We now have 650 Apps users and 150 devices, including 60 Chromebooks and 15 tablets. This year, we introduced Classroom to 13 classes across grades and subjects.

By using Google Drive and Classroom, science teacher Emily McLaughlin saves over eight hours each month that was previously spent printing, copying, distributing and grading student packets. Now, she simply creates a Google Doc and uses Classroom to share it with her students. Emily and her students work together in Docs, making edits and conversing through comments. A new set-up in Emily’s classroom reflects this collaborative learning — students gather in pods of four rather than facing the front of the class. These pods of students give each other feedback and answer questions together. Even across classes, students work together. Ninth graders in my digital literacy class, for instance, teach their research skills to 10th graders in Emily’s class. We want students to know they have the power to teach not only themselves, but also each other.

With Google Drive, students can edit, store and share everything. They type assignments in Google Docs, create presentations using Slides, and organize their body of work in Drive folders. At any moment, an administrator can click a button to pull up work by all 370 of our students: .jpgs of visual art projects, English papers, lab reports, and videos of peer interviews. The revision history and comments in Docs allow us to see a project’s evolution over time.

We took this archive one step further and kicked off a portfolio program in partnership with Parsons The New School for Design. Each student creates his or her own blog, archive of work from grades 9-12, and a digital portfolio using Google Sites or platform of choice. The program began last year with four teachers and has since doubled. We hope, over the next several years, to expand the portfolio program to all classes at DreamYard Prep and help every student share his or her story with the world.