Google Apps for Business is a cloud-based service that can be tailored for both individual users and businesses of any size. Unlike the other cloud services we reviewed, there’s no single cloud cupboard, or online space, where the service stores all your content. Rather, Google Apps is comprised of an extensive lineup of apps that function independently rather than as a collective whole. The cloud service earns our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award for its rich functionality, unrivaled accessibility and loads of value. However, it all comes at the cost of a rather fragmented cloud experience.
Through Google’s wide array of apps, you can store virtually any type of file in the cloud. Email and calendars are available through Gmail, the company’s flagship app, and Music Beta is a storage program for your personal music library. Google Docs allows you to create, edit and collaborate on Office-style documents including word processor docs, spreadsheets and presentations. Photos are managed through Picasa, and Google Video allows you to upload and share videos. Storing files outside of these apps gets tricky but can be done by saving files as email attachments in your Gmail. You can also sync your email, contacts and calendars in Gmail with the built-in email and calendaring applications on any mobile device.
When it comes to security, Google is as guarded as the rest of the cloud services we reviewed. The service employs password protection and advanced file encryption to keep your files secure. What the cloud service doesn’t have is a desktop app, which is hardly surprising considering the service is based entirely in the cloud. However, this also severely limits access to your content while offline.
With Google Apps, if you can get online, then you can access your stored content. The cloud service enables access to its apps from the most common types of mobile devices, including Android, iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. You can also sign into your Google account from any computer or mobile browser. The sole restriction to this is your stored music; you can only stream tracks from computer desktops and Google’s own Android-powered devices.
Complexity isn’t the issue with Google in terms of usability – division is. Your cloud experience with Google Apps will be heavily fragmented, as the service has different products for different types of media. In practice, it isn’t as complicated as it sounds, but it does make it more cumbersome to manage all of your content. More importantly, you may not find all the Google apps to your liking.
Google provides ample help and support options, including 24/7 technical assistance, customer forums and a comprehensive learning center for users. Here you’ll find training videos, FAQs and more. You can peruse the learning center by available resources or by the app you’d like to learn more about. One-on-one support is rendered via email, telephone and online chat. Regardless of the method we used to contact customer support, Google was amiable, responsive and informative when it came to addressing our inquiries.
Google Apps for Business delivers a true cloud experience and a lot of value for the money. It boasts unparalleled mobile access and allows you to store any type of file you want. However, the lack of seamless integration between each of its apps may hinder usability for some users.
Content stored through Google can be accessed on any device with an internet connection.
Google has a different app for different types of content and there’s no central interface or portal for the apps.
Deployment of the service may be fragmented but it still constitutes an affordable and effective cloud service.