Very interesting session - they have 6.3million active users of Google Apps for Education which is rising daily - growth is currently in th US, but there's a very recent increase in the UK - the result of many Universities going with Google this September. Gmail is the dominant product, and Google are seeking to address this my marketing their other apps such as Google docs more. We had a discussion on the implications of moving staff to Google apps - some US Universities have done it - but there are still concerns about privacy and security. Interestingly the LAPD have recently decided to implement it - if they have the security issues sorted then I would have thought it can't be too difficult for the rest of us!
So - what are Google planning over the next couple of years? Lots, as you might expect - the following I picked ut as being interesting to us:
- Lots of integration - between apps and with other partners
- Google groups - user administered groups for sharing and collaborating
- Mobile Google - developed mainly for Google Android phones obviously!
- Document preview in Gmail
- Real time collaboration (mainly in Wave)
- Voice and video conferencing
- Intelligent meeting scheduling in Google calendar (very interesting for us as we would need this if we are to move staff to this)
- Improvements to the docs application - they aim to make this the only product you need. Lots of new functionality being developed especially around formatting.
- Improvement in performance of spreadsheets
- Intelligent workflow in the docs applications
- Co authoring collaborative functionality in docs with version control
After the roadmap presentation we had a demonstration of Google Wave by the team who had developed it who had been flown in from Sydney. I've had a play with it and was unsure of what tto do with it, but they demonstrated collaborating on a document and made it look so easy, and so useful! We will have to have another look at it I think.
I know I shouldn't still be surprised at this - but there were 14 laptops on the table - and 12 of them were Macs!
I've also spent a couple of hours in the exhibition talking to vendors - not quite as big as in previous years as I suppose the recession has had an effect, but still useful, and they still dream up new ways to get you to their stall! This year there's mini golf and basketball competitions - I got a hole in one on the mini golf and am in the running to win a Wii. Bizarrely there's also a marching band going round!