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Independent developers have helped Google steadily ramp up its Apps Marketplace, an online storefront for programs that works with the company's Google Apps suite. But Thursday Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced a significant expansion of available applications by bringing its own Web services into the Apps fold.
Specifically, Google said such services as Google Voice, Reader, Blogger and AdWords can now be accessed directly from Google Apps accounts via the standard single-sign on used to access Google Apps.
"We've steadily added new functionality to Google Apps and recently added support for third-party apps, but we’re thrilled to swing the floodgates of new functionality wide open now," Derek Parham, Google's lead software engineer for Google Apps, said in a post at the company's enterprise blog. "Starting today, customers worldwide can access a full spectrum of services from Google -- including more than 60 productivity-boosting applications that extend far beyond any traditional software suite."
While the Google services are free, giving Google Apps administrators the ability to make those services readily available to users as an extension to Apps, without them needing to log in and out to access those services in a separate browser, is seen as a potential productivity booster.
"Coupled with the ability for administrators to provide different sets of applications to different groups of users, the possibilities for empowering workers in new ways are remarkable," said Parham. "For example, you could equip your marketing team with Picasa Web Albums so they can collect and share photos from customer appreciation events, and let that team publish your company's blog with Blogger. Services like iGoogle and Alerts, on the other hand, may be broadly useful, and could be enabled for your whole organization."
The additional services are not covered by Google's standard Google Apps Service Level Agreement (SLA) or telephone support "but we’ll be watching for feedback how we can make these new applications even more useful," said Parham.
Google also said that it's dropped the "Standard" and "Premier" names for its different apps suites to a simpler naming structure.
Google Apps now refers to the free apps suite; Google Apps for Business is the enterprise or business set of apps that includes 25 GB of email storage per user, 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, additional security features and telephone support for a flat $50 per user, per year. There is also a separate Google Apps for Government
Google Docs goes mobile
Separately, yesterday Google unveiled a new documents editor for Google Docs that lets users edit documents using a mobile browser. Google already supports editing of spreadsheets from a mobile browser.