100% web applications have many advantages over legacy and single tenant hosted technologies, and you consistently tell us that the ability to access improvements as they become available is one of the most important. With Google Apps, new features are available with a refresh of the web browser. There’s no need to wait years for the next big software release or manage a complex set of installers, software patches, and hardware upgrades.

We’re always excited to bring you the newest features as soon as they’re ready, but we’ve heard from some customers with complex IT environments that they’d like more notice before new features are deployed to their users. To address these requests, we’re happy to announce a new feature release process aimed at helping you balance the benefits of accessing improvements as soon as they're ready with the task of integrating the changes into your organization.

Our new process has two release tracks that Google Apps administrators can choose from:
  • Rapid Release: Customers on the Rapid Release track have access to new features as soon as the features have completed testing and quality assurance, and are ready to roll out.
  • Scheduled Release: Customers on the Scheduled Release track gain access to new features on a regular, weekly release schedule following the initial release of those features. This delay allows time for administrators to familiarize themselves with new features using a test domain, educate support staff, and communicate any changes to their users. New features will be released on the Scheduled Release track each Tuesday, with at least a one-week notice following the initial feature launch.

New features for Gmail, Contacts, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Sites will be following this new release process going forward. If your organization previously had “Pre-release features” enabled in the Google Apps control panel, then you will be placed on the Rapid Release track and continue to gain access to new features as soon as they’re ready. Otherwise, your organization will be placed on the Scheduled Release track. You can always change your selection by choosing how you would like to receive new features in the Google Apps control panel. If you're considering a switch to Scheduled Release, note that you may currently be using some features that are only available in Rapid Release.

To support this new process, we’ve also developed a new launch communication tool for all users that brings together all the information you need to track Google Apps releases. This portal can be found at whatsnew.googleapps.com, and is a great place to learn about recent and upcoming features, and find training resources for your users.

Google Apps customers are already on the cutting edge with 100% web technology - they simply refresh their browser for the latest innovation. Now we’re giving customers the choice to balance innovation with predictability. As always, we look forward to your feedback - please leave us a comment below!