Big Ideas this Week – Google Calendar: Offline, Labs and Football
Being a startup, one of our core values is Be Frugal and Scrappy. In our efforts to keep our overhead low, we often turn to cloud solutions. Last year, we dumped our corporate Exchange system for a much more flexible and cost effective Google Apps setup. Since the switch, we haven’t looked back.
Google is always adding new features and here are a few I found for the Calendar app:
Offline Google Calendar
Previously, Google Apps released it’s offline eMail application and let us know Docs and Calendar would be out next in the following weeks. This week I loaded up the Google Calendar Offline and took if for a spin… It was a quick spin. . First, this HTML5-enabled app is only available through the Chrome Web Store and therefore, only available for Chrome. I’m sure a crafty developer will come up with a Firefox extension. Those other browsers… well, you know how long that will take.
Once loaded, the app syncs up your calendar to a local data store. You can access it either through the Chrome Apps start page or an offline message will come up in the Calendar window when you loose your internet connection. Unlike Google Offline email, the offline calendar interface is exactly the same as the online one.
Now for the tour – at this stage, Google Offline Calendar is simply a read-only view of your calendar. You cannot edit, add or otherwise update any of your events. You can see them and you will get notifications. That’s it. Tour over.
You may now exit the building.
Wait a second, don’t leave so fast. Since that was only slightly boring, I’ve got some other amazing calendar tricks for you. Like Google Apps/Gmail, the Google Calendar team added a lab feature last year. Hit the options gear up in the right hand corner and you’ll see the Lab menu.
In here you’ll find several cool lab features you can try:
Next Meeting lab puts a cool visual reminder in the right hand column to let you know what to expect next.
Smart Rescheduler is another cool lab you can use to find the next available time for all the participants in a meeting (assumes you have access to their calendars).
Event Attachments is another feature I’ve enabled and it works perfectly.
Looks like they’ve added several more since the last time I was in here. If you’ve tried any of these or suggestions for others, let me know in the comments about your experience.
I saved the best for last. This feature has been available for a long time on Google Calendars. You’ve always been able to add a co-worker’s calendar if they have shared it. Maybe you didn’t know this but you can also add general calendars like Holidays.
In Google Calendar, down at the bottom of the left column under Other Calendars you can search “Interesting Calendars”. From there you can choose all kinds of cool stuff – from holidays of various countries and cultures to moon and star phases.
My favorite is the Sports tab where you can drill down to your favorite sports team’s schedule. These “interesting” calendars are maintained at a secret central Google server bunker and if the time of your team’s game changes because you’re in the top 15 and CBS picks you up for primetime, you’ll see it right here!
In the event details, you’ll see what networks are covering the game. After the event, Google also feeds the final results.
Go Hogs Go!