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July 18th, 2014

Virtualization_July14_AVirtualization - the act of moving something physical to a digital environment, normally delivered over a network connection - is one of the most beneficial tech concepts, especially for small businesses. For many business owners and managers however, this is a vastly complex concept, that carries with it some confusing terminology. To help, we have come up with a glossary of 10 virtualization terms every owner, manager, and employee should be aware of.

1. Virtual Machine (VM)

You will often hear virtualization experts bandy about the term VM. What they are talking about when they say this is the Virtual Machine. The VM is essentially a virtual representation of the computer on your desk. It can do everything a physical machine does, only everything is virtual and usually delivered over a network connection.

Because VMs are software based, you can often run more than one VM on the same physical machine. This could equate to having say two separate versions of Windows running at the same time, or even running a different operating system, say Windows on your MacBook.

2. Virtual server

A specific type of VM, in this case a server, that is running in a virtual environment. A common setup many offices employ is to have one physical server on premise. This server then hosts separate virtual servers that in turn host different services like email, networking, storage, etc.

Other businesses choose to rely completely on virtual servers. This is where another company hosts the servers which are delivered to you over the Internet. To the computers and users it appears the servers are there on your network, and can be interacted with normally when in truth, the servers are actually virtual.

3. Virtual desktop

Much like the virtual server, the virtual desktop is a specific type of VM. In this case, it is a virtually delivered version of an operating system like Windows, Linux or even OS X.

Since the advent of virtual desktops, the idea that companies have to stick with one type of operating system has started to become irrelevant. For example, if you own a Mac and need to access a Windows only program, one solution is to use a virtual version of Windows. If you have access to one, you will be able to run Windows from your Mac without having to physically install it on your computer.

4. Hypervisor

The hypervisor is essentially a small operating system that enables virtualization. Its job is to take physical hardware resources and combine them into a platform that is then delivered virtually to one, or many different users.

5. Host system

The host system, also referred to as the parent, is where the physical hardware and software is installed. These physical components are then copied by the hypervisor and delivered in a virtual state to the user. If you are creating a virtual desktop environment, then the host system will have the desktop's OS installed on it, along with the necessary software.

6. Guest system

The guest system, also referred to as the child, is where the VM is accessed. To carry the example on from above, the OS that is installed on the host machine is replicated by the hypervisor and the copy is then delivered to the user.

The user can interact with the OS just as they would with the physical host machine, because the guest system is an exact copy of the host. The only difference is, the guest machine is virtual instead of physical.

7. Virtual Infrastructure

When you combine a bunch of different types of VMs together into one solution, including hardware, storage, desktops, and servers you create a virtual infrastructure.

This can then be deployed to businesses who are looking for a completely virtualized solution. The easiest way to think of this is that your whole IT infrastructure is combined into one solution and virtualized. Many companies look for a solution like this because it reduces the need for on-premise hardware, while making it easier for an IT partner to manage.

8. P2V

P2V, or Physical to Virtual, is a term used by IT experts to refer to the act of migrating a physical system to a virtual one. The most common example of P2V is the merging of physical servers into a virtual environment that is hosted on one server.

9. Snapshot

A snapshot is an image of the state of the virtual machine at a specific point of time. This includes all of the data, configurations, and even windows or programs open at that time. Snapshots are used kind of like the Save button on video games - it saves your progress. When you next load up the VM, you will get all of your data, programs, and configurations back.

Snapshots are also kept in case something goes wrong with the VM. You can easily revert back to an older snapshot, one that was taken before the problem.

10. Clone

The action of taking one VM and creating an exact copy that can then be used by another computer or user.

If you are looking to learn more about virtualization, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 17th, 2014

BCP_July14_AWhen it comes to ensuring that your business will not only recover from the next disaster, but also be able to continue to operate, it is essential that you implement a business continuity plan (BCP). When developing and fine-tuning these plans there are a number of key metrics you should be aware of, with the two most important being RTO and RPO.

While both RTO and RPO are important elements of continuity plans, and they both sound fairly similar, they are actually quite different. In this article we define RTO and RPO and take a look at what the difference is between the two concepts.

RTO defined

RTO, or Recovery Time Objective, is the target time you set for the recovery of your IT and business activities after a disaster has struck. The goal here is to calculate how quickly you need to recover, which can then dictate the type or preparations you need to implement and the overall budget you should assign to business continuity.

If, for example, you find that your RTO is five hours, meaning your business can survive with systems down for this amount of time, then you will need to ensure a high level of preparation and a higher budget to ensure that systems can be recovered quickly. On the other hand, if the RTO is two weeks, then you can probably budget less and invest in less advanced solutions.

RPO defined

RPO, or Recovery Point Objective, is focused on data and your company's loss tolerance in relation to your data. RPO is determined by looking at the time between data backups and the amount of data that could be lost in between backups.

As part of business continuity planning, you need to figure out how long you can afford to operate without that data before the business suffers. A good example of setting an RPO is to imaging that you are writing an important, yet lengthy, report. Think to yourself that eventually your computer will crash and the content written after your last save will be lost. How much time can you tolerate having to try to recover, or rewrite that missing content?

That time becomes your RPO, and should become the indicator of how often you back your data up, or in this case save your work. If you find that your business can survive three to four days in between backups, then the RPO would be three days (the shortest time between backups).

What's the main difference between RTO and RPO?

The major difference between these two metrics is their purpose. The RTO is usually large scale, and looks at your whole business and systems involved. RPO focuses just on data and your company's overall resilience to the loss of it.

While they may be different, you should consider both metrics when looking to develop an effective BCP. If you are looking to improve or even set your RTO and RPO, contact us today to see how our business continuity systems and solutions can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 17th, 2014

iPad_July14_AThe way we communicate is forever changing, and with the younger generations now in the workforce, the main form of communication has become online chat or SMS. Because of its popularity, Facebook is one of the main platforms people have come to rely on to message one another, especially on mobile devices like the iPad. In an effort to make messaging easier, Facebook has released a stand-alone messenger app for the iPad.

Facebook Messenger on the iPad

Over the past few months, Facebook has been set on separating the two main functions of their platform - at least for mobile users. What this had led to is two separate Facebook apps, with the main Facebook app being just for social media functions, and a stand-alone app for its popular messenger service.

Up until now, there has been one version of the Facebook Messenger app for iOS, and it was optimized to smaller iPhone screens, meaning if you used it on iPad, it looked a little weird. In early July 2014, Facebook set about fixing this by releasing a new update to the app, which brought full support for the iPad's bigger screen.

When you download this app onto your iPad, you will have the same functionality as the other versions, including the ability to call people, send group chats, share photos, and best of all message people.

Where to get the app

It may seem a bit odd to have a separate app just for messaging on Facebook, but it can be useful for businesses who use this form of communication. Essentially, the app makes it easier to use just the messaging features without having to deal with the full social media aspect of the platform.

If this sounds like a useful app, you can download it from the iTunes Store for free.

Using the app

If you have not used the app before, it may take a bit of time to get used to it and to set it up. When you first download and open the app you should be asked to log in using your Facebook account. You should then see your contacts pop up with recent messages at the top.

Tapping on a chat will open the window with your message history and standard messaging abilities. You can scroll through your different chats on the left and view these by tapping on them.

At the bottom of the main chat history window you should see a number of buttons:

  • Recent - The default view, showing recent chats or messages in chronological order with the newest being at the top.
  • Group - Shows only your Group chats, again with the most recent messages at the top.
  • People - Brings up your contacts so you can start new messages. Simply search for a contact and tap on their name to start chatting.
  • Settings - Opens the Settings panel, allowing you to change various features including the alerts that are shown when you have a new message.
One potentially useful feature the app offers is the ability to call people directly from the chat window. If you open a chat, you should see a phone icon at the top-right of the screen. Tapping this will allow you to call the person you are chatting with, and if they also have the Messenger app installed, the call will be free. If the other person doesn't have the app installed then you will get a message saying that carrier rates may apply.

Looking to learn more about using Facebook on the iPad? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad
July 16th, 2014

Office_July14_AWhen it comes to being a spy, nothing is more important than a good alias. From Archer's Chet Manley to James Bond's James St. John Smythe, no secret agent is ever without one. When it comes to business however, it may seem like an alias is not so important, and at first glance it isn't. That being said, there is a great alias feature available to Outlook.com users that you may be interested to find out about.

Outlook.com's alias management feature

If you are using Outlook.com, chances are high that you aren't a spy or superhero and in need of a top-secret alias. There is a good chance however that you may have need for more than one email address.

Maybe you attend a lot of conferences or events and would like a way to keep your main email inbox from being flooded with the usual "nice to meet you" emails and follow ups; or perhaps you are launching a new product associated with your name and would like a way to easily track communication directly related to this one product.

If this sounds like your situation then Outlook.com has a great feature that allows you to create up to 10 new email addresses, or aliases, and manage them from your main account's inbox. The main idea of an alias email is that you get a different email address that is tied to your main account. Your aliases share the same contacts, calendar and even account settings with your primary account.

What's more is you can actually sign into your account using any alias, because the same password is used for every address you create. When sending an email, you also get to pick which alias the message will come from, which is undoubtedly a really useful feature.

How to create an Outlook.com alias

To create an alias email address:
  1. Log into Outlook.com with the account you would like to set as your main or primary account.
  2. Press the Settings icon which is the cog located at the top-right of the screen.
  3. Select Options followed by Create an Outlook.com alias in the window that opens.
  4. Type in the email address that you want.
  5. Click Create an alias.
  6. Untick the box in the pop-up. If you don't, the alias you set up will be set as the primary email address.
  7. Click Done.
When you are sending an email, you should now be able to click your name at the top of the email window which will drop down a menu with your aliases. Click on the alias you would like to send the email from, and you should see the name change. Any responses to that message will be made to the alias email address as well.

If you are looking to learn more about Outlook.com or any other Office program contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 15th, 2014

GoogleApps_July14_AIn late June, Google announced a number of new products and features at their annual I/O conference. While many of the announcements at I/O centered around mobile products, new features for Drive were also talked about. Some of the most useful being new advanced editing features for productivity apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Here is an overview of these new editing features.

A big leap forward in editing

Before the introduction of Drive's new document editing features users simply edited on the same document. Changes they made were automatically made to the document regardless of whether the main author wanted them or not. For the majority of users, this works fine, but it did kind of feel like the apps were missing more advanced editing features like those found in other productivity programs.

Also, while the collaboration aspect of Drive's apps is second to none, there are times when an editor or document owner would prefer to limit the power collaborators have in terms of editing and controlling the overall quality of the file. To make things easier, Google has introduced new editing features to the Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps.

Now, when you open a new file you should see a pencil icon in the toolbar at the top-right, this is the new editing function. Clicking on it will bring down a menu with three options:

  • Editing - Allows you to edit a document with changes being made directly in the document.
  • Suggesting - Allows you to make suggested edits that the document owner can approve or deny.
  • Viewing - Allows you to view the document as it will look when printed or finalized.
While Editing and Viewing are both useful, it's the Suggesting - or Suggested Edits as the feature is also called - that could prove the most valuable to writers and teams who collaborate on the same file.

Utilizing Suggested Edits

If you are managing a Doc, Sheet, or Slide and want to ensure that all collaborators are working together towards the same idea, without stepping on each other's toes, try using this feature. You can turn it on by:
  1. Pressing the pencil icon located above the document field, to the right of the page.
  2. Selecting Suggesting.
  3. Making edits.
You will know Suggested Edits is on when the pencil icon changes to lines with an eye, and a different color.

When you enable, this feature, you can make edits in the doc, which will show up on the screen as comments. The changes will appear to other users in different colors and as comments on the side. If you agree with the changes, you can press the checkmark to implement these on the final version of the file, or you can press X to delete the suggested changes.

You can also see the final version before you accept changes, by clicking the pencil or Suggested Edits icon at the top and select Final from the drop-down menu. This will show the document with all of the Suggested Edits implemented. Going back to the Suggested Edits will allow you to approve or reject them again.

Looking to learn more about using Google Drive and the included apps? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 11th, 2014

Hardware_July07_AIn the last article, we looked at how Mac and PC differ in terms of specifications, operating systems and software; and here we continue to explore other differences between the two rivals. When it comes to buying a computer, it’s not just about design and specs, but also about models, availability, security, customer satisfaction, and of course price.

Models

Apple offers five computer lines comprising of the Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro. This limited selection is not a sign of weakness but a part of the company’s 'less is more' approach to marketing.

PCs have a larger variety to choose from, with industry giants such as Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, who offer numerous configurations of both desktop and laptop models. This can be beneficial in helping you find a specific computer that meets your needs.

Availability

When it comes to third party retail stores, Apple is more selective than PC manufacturers about where it sell its products. As of April 2014, Apple has 424 retail stores in 16 countries and an online store available in 39 countries. However, Macs are still not available at many stores that sell PCs.

PCs are the most numerous and popular computers out there, and can be found at every store that sells computers, except for Apple stores. This makes it easier to find PCs, especially if you don't live near an Apple store.

Security

With the vast majority of computers running on Windows, most attacks focus on PCs. Malware like Trojans, which trick users into installing the software by pretending to be a useful program, or botnets, are common to PCs, but rarely harm Macs.

This doesn’t mean that Macs are 100% secure. As Macs become more popular, threats are increasing. Nonetheless, a Mac user is still less likely to be a victim of successful attack than a PC user.

Customer satisfaction

Recent surveys conducted by PCWorld and PCMag revealed that personal users choose Mac over every single brand of PC available. Businesses on the other hand still prefer to stick with PCs.

While Apple does score high on many surveys, especially because of the value placed on face-to-face service, there are a number of PC manufacturers that offer a comparable service. Also, there are more smaller repair shops that offer unrivalled customer service.

Price

One of the most cited differences between a Mac and a PC is price. Generally speaking, Macs are more expensive than PCs due to their preference of building products around higher-end computers with more costly components. The cheapest Mac computer is the Macbook Air which starts from USD$899, while various models of PCs can be found at a much lower price.

Mac and PC both have strong and weak points. It’s best to try both and see which is the better tool for you and which will cover your business needs. If you are looking for a new system, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
July 10th, 2014

Security_July07_ABYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is one of the most common business trends of the past couple of years. To many, the idea of bringing their own phone, tablet, laptop, or even computer to the office is ideal because it is a system they are undoubtedly familiar with. They may also view personal devices as better than the office models. Even if you don't allow your employees to bring their own devices to work, there is a good chance they do anyways. However, this could pose a security risk that needs to be dealt with.

What should I do about BYOD?

The first reaction of many office managers and business owners, worried about security threats that could stem from BYOD, is to impose an outright ban of devices. While telling your staff they are not to use their devices for work may seem like a quick and easy solution, you can be 100% sure that there will be employees who ignore this policy and use their personal devices for work regardless.

This could put your business at a higher security risk if the rule is ignored, especially if you don't implement any security measures to protect your networks and data. In order to minimize the potential threats BYOD can expose your business to, we suggest you do the following:

1. Consider embracing BYOD

Instead of simply banning personal devices in the workplace take a step back and look to see if there are any benefits BYOD can offer. For example, if you operate on razor thin margins and have not replaced hardware in years, there is a good chance your employees will have better systems at hand. This could help you reduce your overall tech costs.

The same goes for phones for your employees. Why not offer to pay for the plan and allow employees to use their own devices? Of course, you are going to want to implement security measures and usage rules, but if this is easily achieved then it may help reduce your overall operating costs. Before you do implement a system like this however, we strongly recommend you read the rest of this article and follow the steps below.

2. Set up separate networks for employee devices

Oftentimes, the main reason employees bring their devices to the office and use them for work purposes, especially when it comes to mobile phones, is because they can happily connect to Wi-Fi for free without using their data plans throughout the day.

Chances are high that because they use the work Wi-Fi on their device for non-work tasks, they simply keep using the device when they are doing work related activities. This could pose a security risk, especially if you run business-critical operations on the same network. You could nip this potential problem in the bud and simply install another Wi-Fi network for mobile devices and non-critical business processes.

It is usually quite affordable to simply purchase another line and the networking equipment to support this, not to mention the fact that it will keep business-critical processes secure from errant malware. As an added bonus, you will likely see increased productivity because the bandwidth demand will be limited, so important data will move quicker.

3. Educate your staff about security

In our experience, the vast majority of BYOD related security risks are exposed by mistake. An employee may have a virus on a personal phone and be unaware of it. When they connect to the network it can then be unintentionally spread to other computers resulting in a potentially massive security breach.

One of the simplest ways to prevent this is to educate your employees about proper mobile safety. This includes how to spot apps that could contain malware, sharing security threat updates, and teaching your employees how to secure their devices. You really need to stress just how important security is to them.

On top of this, contact an IT expert like us for a recommended anti-virus and spyware scanner for mobile devices that users can easily install. Encourage employees to not just install this but to keep it up to date too. Many of these mobile specific scanners are free and just as powerful as desktop versions.

4. Work with an IT partner to establish a solution that works for you

Beyond education and simple network establishment, it is a great idea to work with an IT partner like us. As experts, we keep tabs on the trends and solutions related to BYOD and will work with you to establish a program that works for your company.

It may be that you don't actually need to integrate BYOD but to update hardware or software to newer versions instead. It could be that there is a simple solution to employees feeling frustrated with slow performance of existing systems at work.

If you do implement BYOD, we can help establish security measures and policies that will ensure your networks and employee devices are secure. The best advice we can give however, is to do this before you start allowing BYOD, as it can be far more challenging to implement and enforce changes when employees are already using their devices at work.

Looking to learn more? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
July 9th, 2014

OSX_July07_AWhen it comes to new technology, there is always concern when integrating it into existing business systems. This is especially true for cloud storage, where one of the most common concerns is over the security of the data being stored. One of the best ways to ensure the security of a cloud storage system is to employ two-factor authentication. In an effort to make their cloud storage service more secure, Apple has recently introduced two-step authentication for iCloud.

What exactly is two-step authentication?

Two-factor or two-step authentication as Apple calls it, is a security method whereby you need to supply two different pieces of information in order to access your account. For the majority of systems this means your password and another piece of identification or a code that has been sent to say a mobile phone or generated by a key fob.

The reason two-step authentication has become so popular, and is being implemented in numerous systems, is that it is more secure than just using your password to access your account. Because the majority of platforms choose to use your mobile phone to generate the second code - usually through an SMS - there is a good chance that other people will not be able to access your account.

In the specific case of iCloud, you will need to enter this code when accessing iCloud or iCloud Web apps like Calendar, Contacts, Mail or Notes. When you try to access an app on a new system you will need to enter your password and a four digit code sent to your mobile phone over SMS.

How to set up two-step authentication for iCloud

If you use iCloud or iCloud's Web apps you can enable two-step authentication by following these steps:
  1. Going to the iCloud website and logging in using the username and password you would like to enable the extra authentication for.
  2. Clicking on your account name, which is located at the top-right of the page, and selecting Account Settings.
  3. Clicking on your Apple ID followed by Manage your Apple ID in the new page that opens.
  4. Signing in with your Apple ID again and clicking on Password and Security.
  5. Entering the answer to two of your security questions and then selecting Continue.
  6. Reading the information about two-step authentication on the three following screens and clicking Get started.
  7. Setting a phone number in the following screen. Be sure to use a number tied to a phone that can accept SMS or text messages.
  8. Entering the code that was sent to the phone number you set in the previous step.
  9. Selecting your phone from the list of devices and clicking Verify.
  10. Entering the code that is sent to the device you just selected and clicking Continue.
  11. Printing or copying the verification key in the window that pops up. You will need to keep this in order to access your account if you switch phone numbers.
  12. Re-entering the verification key and clicking Enable two-step verification.
  13. Checking the box to show that you acknowledge the two-step verification and understand what it means.
  14. Clicking Done.
The next time you try to log into iCloud, you should be asked to enter the two-step verification code that will be sent to the mobile device you established in the steps above. It's true that this is a bit of a hassle to set up, but it really does enhance the security of your account and should be enabled, especially if you have connected a credit card or uploaded sensitive information to your account.

If you are looking to learn more about enhancing the security of your Mac laptop or desktop, contact us today to see how our systems can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
July 9th, 2014

Web_July07_AFiles and folders are essential parts of any operating system, mobile or otherwise. In larger devices, like computers and laptops, we often have hundreds, if not thousands, of files and folders that we use to keep our systems and processes organized. However, with mobile devices, such as Windows Phone, it is difficult to actually manage your files and folders properly. In fact, it's been one of the most requested Windows Phone features and Microsoft has recently announced a new app to make management of files and folders on your device far easier.

About the Files app for Windows Phone 8.1

In late May, Microsoft posted an article on their Windows Mobile blog announcing that the Files app had been launched. The idea behind this app is that it allows easier viewing and managing of files and folders on your Windows Phone.

With this app you can:

  • Browse for installed files
  • Arrange files into folders
  • Move files or folders from one location to another
  • Open or search for files
  • Change the name of existing files
  • Share individual or multiple files with other users
While this app is a welcome development, there is one feature that makes it great: It allows you to also access and manage files on your device's SD card - if it has one. This means you no longer have to connect your Windows Phone to your computer in order to manage your files. You can do so directly from your phone.

Where can I get the app?

If you use your device for work we strongly recommend that you install this app, especially if you store files on your device. Find the app on the Windows Phone Store for free. Simply click the Install button in the left-hand ribbon of the page and select your device. You need to be signed into the Microsoft account you use on your phone. You can verify this by looking at the top-right of the page and hovering your mouse over Explore. If you are not signed in hover over Explore and click Sign-in. Enter the username and password of the Microsoft account you use on your phone and you should be able to install the app directly from your browser.

Alternatively, you can install the app directly to your device by:

  1. Going to the Windows Phone Store app on your device.
  2. Searching for Files.
  3. Tapping on the Files app icon (blue square with a white document icon).
  4. Pressing Install.
The app should start to download automatically and install a new tile on your home screen.

Using the Files app

To manage or view the files and folders on your device, simply open the app. You should see a screen open with the option to either look at the files on your Phone or SD card - if your device has an SD card installed.

When you tap on either Phone or SD card, you should see the file structure pop up. Scrolling up or down and tapping on files or folders will open them. If you tap on the square box beside each file you will see a number of options pop up at the bottom of the screen. Pressing the related icon will allow you to interact with that file. For example, if you select a file and press the Trash Can icon, the file will be deleted. You can select multiple files at the same time by simply tapping on the white boxes before hitting any of the action buttons.

If you are looking for a specific file, make sure you don't have any files or folders selected and press the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen. Enter the name of the file or folder you would like to find and it should pop up below the search bar.

Looking to learn more about using Windows Phone in the office? Contact us today to see how our services can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 8th, 2014

GoogleApps_July07_AIt has become somewhat of a tradition for the big tech companies to hold an annual conference where they talk about trends and products the company is working on. For Google, this is I/O, which is held annually at the end of May or June. This year, it was held on June 25 and 26, and as usual, Google has some big announcements that business owners will be interested to know about.

During I/O, Google announced a ton of new products and features, while also holding seminars and sessions all related to developing programs and solutions using Google's various programs and devices. The most popular event however is the keynote, where the company provides a high-level glance at the most exciting developments to come in the next year or so. Here is a brief overview of the five most business-relevant announcements.

Android L

Overall, Android has grown immensely over the past five or so years. It's now the world's most popular mobile operating system and there are a wide range of businesses using Android devices. On an almost yearly basis, Google has announced a new version of Android, but over the past few years there hasn't really been a major overhaul to the system. Google aims to change that this year with Android L.

The next version of Android will feature a redesigned User Interface that is not only more modern but also smarter and more colorful. Using a new layout system, called material design, Android L aims to provide a consistent look across all apps and devices. For example, the Gmail app will look the same on a tablet as it does on your phone.

Aside from a new look and interface, there are also a number of features introduced with Android L, including:

  • A new way to display notifications - These will also be displayed on your locked screen.
  • Increased dependence between apps - Google is aiming to make it so that apps work better together. The example showcased at the conference displayed a Google search for a restaurant using Chrome, and a search result allowing you to book a table directly from another app, without having to close Chrome and open the table booking app.
  • Faster operation - Google has developed a new way to put the OS together, which will allow apps to run faster, smoother, and more efficiently on the same hardware.
  • Better battery life - A new mobile project Google is working on, called project Volta, will allow app developers to track and easily see where their app is using increased battery power. This can then be investigated and changes implemented wherever possible to limit this energy drain. This will help ensure better battery life overall. There will also be a new power saving mode, allowing users to lengthen battery life by up to 90 minutes when their device's battery is low.
There are also likely to be a slew of new and improved features introduced when Android L is released which, according to Google, should be sometime in the fall - likely late September or October.

Android Wear

The company noted that they were going to get into the smartwatch game earlier this year, and at I/O they introduced a number of new smartwatches and an Android Wear app you install on your phone that gives these watches functionality. Think of these watches as an extension of your phone; showing relevant information and notifications. In other words, they are really kind of like Google Now on your wrist.

In the demo we saw, your watch will show upcoming events and information related to your location. So, for example, if you have a flight in three hours, you will be able to access your flight information, boarding pass, and even receive updates about the status on your watch, without having to look at your phone.

It can also function as your notification center. You can set your phone to buzz when you receive a new email and read it without looking at your phone. You can even interact with it using your voice. For example, you can dictate emails or even Internet searches.

There are currently two watches available to order, with a third coming later this summer. Because these devices are new, it's not easy to tell whether they will be useful for all business users. However, if you spend a lot of time on the road or out of the office, this could prove to be a good way of keeping track of your day and important notifications.

Android Auto

Governments around the world are increasingly implementing tough laws regarding the use of mobile phones whilst driving. While safety is paramount, the restrictions can be tough for those who spend a lot of time traveling with work.

In an effort to make things safer, Google has introduced Android Auto. This system is designed to be integrated into new cars and connect to your phone. With Android Auto you will be able to access your phone's music, notifications, contacts, and messages while on the road. The idea is that these will show up on your car's navigation screen and can be interacted with via steering wheel controls or your voice.

In the demo shown at I/O, the driver received a text message which was read to him aloud, and he then responded using his voice. He was also able to set reminders, play music and find directions - all without picking up his phone.

Generally speaking, when this system starts to show up in cars later this year, it should allow you to interact with your phone while still focusing on driving and not breaking any distracted driving laws of course.

New features for Drive

I/O wasn't all about Android however, Google also talked about a slew of new features and an overhaul to their popular cloud storage and collaboration platform, Google Drive. In the new version, the overall platform is quicker. You will be able to see file information at the click of a button, and open new files by double clicking on them. You can also select multiple files, just as you do on your computer, and easily add these to one folder or action the files as a group.

Possibly the biggest, and most useful, feature in the new version of Drive. This version will bring enhanced editing options, which are available in the three main collaboration apps - Slides, Sheets and Docs. In the new version, you should see a pencil icon in the menu bar above the document. Click on this to access the new editing options. For example, Suggesting will allow you to edit the doc, but instead of the edits being made, they will show up as comments that need to be approved to implement the suggested change.

With the update, a common issue with Drive was also fixed: The ability to add and edit Microsoft Office documents. Now, Google says, you will be able to add Office files and edit them directly from Drive, without having to convert them to their Google equivalent. These features should be available now in Google Drive, or will be within the next month or two, so be on the lookout.

A premium option for Google Apps

Finally, at the I/O keynote, Google talked about a new version of Google Apps they like to call Google Drive for Work. This package, aimed at getting businesses to move over to the paid version of Google Apps, is a premium version of the basic version of Google Apps.

For USD 10 a month, users get unlimited cloud storage, enhanced audit reporting and security controls. For companies with less than five users however, the storage amount is set to 1TB per user. If your business is seeing an increase in the amount of data you need to store, this new premium account could be right up your alley.

Looking to learn more about the products and updates announced by Google? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.