In the wake of yesterday's announcement of Labs for Google Apps, I just happened to get a chance to sit down with a Google project manager on the apps enterprise team. He offered some insight into the company's plans to differentiate its products.Revealed in a blog post, the new set of "experimental" features for Google Apps were built by Google engineers, and include Google Moderator, intended to manage feedback --votes up or down, for example -- on anything from documents to presentations or videos; Google Code Reviews, which is designed to let developers share feedback; and Google Short Links, a sort of TinyURL that lets you choose the address of the shortcut you create.
According to InformationWeek's Thomas Claburn, "Google is offering these add-ons through the Google Solutions Marketplace, an aggregation point for Google-oriented third-party software and services. It is encouraging third-party developers to build other useful services for Google Apps using Google App Engine."
When I spoke to Google product manager Rishi Chandra, he said the Labs for Apps announcements are part of Google's push to demonstrate that "the notion of three-to-five-year software cycles is over."
Chandra said that Google's immediate priority is to make Google Apps as usable offline as they are online. Long term, however, the company is exploring "how do we make our apps more social. We did something like that with video in Google Video For Business," he added, and Google wants to make a similar transition to social applications for Google Docs.
And even as the company pulls together features in ways that resemble Unified Communications' click-to-call features (recognizing addresses and letting you map them, for example, or adding dates to calendars), Chandra acknowledged that Google is looking into incorporating voice capabilities.
Heck, at this rate, pretty soon you'll be able to run your entire business in Google This and Google That. Duh, I guess that's the point...