Our Most Popular Managed Services

If you need help deciding what services are best for your business let us know.

VT Logo header logo wrap shape

VT Logo header logo wrap shape

Award-Winning Dallas-Fort Worth IT Services.

Questions? Call (817) 595-0111

inner banner overlay

×

Error

The CEGCore2 library could not be found.

VersaTrust Blog

VersaTrust has been serving the Texas area since 1997 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Google adds anti-phishing features on Gmail

Cybercriminals have been relentless throughout 2017. In the past couple of months, hackers discovered new malware strains and software vulnerabilities that have overwhelmed thousands of businesses worldwide. But despite these new attacks, hackers still have an old, yet effective trick up their sleeves: phishing scams. To this day, sending fraudulent emails to steal sensitive information or spread a virus is still being used by the most advanced hackers. Luckily Google rolled out some new security features for Gmail users.

Machine learningGoogle is approaching email security the same way they’ve been developing their products, with machine learning technology. Phishing scams usually follow a predictable pattern when you analyze them. Knowing this, Gmail experts developed an algorithm that analyzes phishing and spam patterns and updates Google’s security database in real time.

When the same phishing attempt is made, Gmail flags potentially dangerous messages and sends them through Google’s Safe Browsing feature, where message links and file attachments are tested for malicious activity. According to Google, around 50 to 70 percent of emails that get sent to Gmail accounts are spam and phishing emails, but with the new detection algorithm, Gmail can block 99.9% of them.

Click-time warningsGoogle has also added precautions for suspicious links. When you accidentally click on an unsolicited link in a message, Gmail will redirect you to a security page titled: “Warning -- phishing (web forgery) suspected.”

Although Google does not completely block access to the link (in case of false positives), it advises you to be extremely careful if you do decide to proceed.

External reply warningsAnother enhancement focuses on securing reply messages. The Gmail feature warns users when they are about to send a reply to an address that is not in their contact list or company domain. This small improvement is designed to prevent users from giving away sensitive information to third-parties.

Every Gmail user can take advantage of these new security controls today, but it’s important to keep in mind that these can’t replace security awareness. Even Google has mentioned that these features are complements to existing security systems and best practices. Being able to identify what is or isn’t a scam can go a long way in protecting your business.

Google is adding machine learning technology in almost all of their products. To find out where they’ll apply it to next, get in touch with our experts and stay tuned for more Google-related posts.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

Machine learning boosts productivity

Did you know that the applications you use learn something new about you every day? If you’re using any of the G Suite applications, their machine learning algorithms -- a set of mechanisms that study usage patterns -- derive data based on your work patterns and frequently used files, and then make sensible suggestions accordingly. Don’t worry about your system’s security, as this is just part of Google’s efforts to enhance the overall user experience.

What ‘machine learning’ does

Like a trustworthy assistant, machine learning anticipates logical next steps to your tasks. For instance, it might suggest Docs or other apps, launch apps, schedule meetings, or manage your email based on your habits.

For example, if you're using Google Sheets to track employee performance, the "+Explore" button in the bottom right of the screen can help reveal subtle trends. The machine learning that powers this function doesn't just analyze written data, it can also help you find the best image layout and settings. Aside from providing you with useful insights, this function also helps format and design your file.

Increased productivity

Working on an office productivity platform that is capable of suggesting apps may not seem like much. But since the average worker allots plenty of time doing routine tasks -- such as launching apps, searching and downloading files, and sorting email -- having a smart tool that makes sensible suggestions never hurts.

The machine learning-enabled Quick Access function predicts the file you want to open based on your recent activities and interactions within the Google environment. Google Drive’s search function is a good way to locate a file you need to work on, but as many users know, searching unsorted files and messy folder structures can cause an inconvenient amount of delay.

Greatly reduced spam

Managing email is a tedious task that demands a couple hours of your day, every day. There are many email management apps you can use, and although they’re worth your money and effort, sometimes all you need is a highly efficient spam detector.

Because of its machine learning capabilities, Gmail spam detection currently has an accuracy rate of 99%. This means virtually no spam in your inbox and a reduced exposure to malware-laden email. Another way Gmail users can save time is through Smart Reply, a feature that suggests possible responses to emails you receive. Google is currently working to improve Smart Reply’s responses so that they’re more accurate and less generic.

Google applications are handy office tools perfect for businesses that require anywhere, anytime access to their files and apps, as well as constant collaboration with colleagues. There’s more to learn about G Suite and similar platforms that might just be what your business needs. Call us today for recommendations.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

The most advanced Gmail phishing scam yet

As the technology that recognizes and thwarts malware becomes more advanced, hackers are finding it much easier to trick overly trusting humans to do their dirty work for them. Known as social engineering, it’s a dangerous trend that is becoming increasingly prevalent. Read on to educate yourself on how to avoid the most recent scam and those that came before it.

Broadly defined, “phishing” is any form of fraud in which an attacker tries to learn information such as login credentials or account information by masquerading as a reputable entity or person in email, IM or other communication channels.

These messages prey on users who click links, images and buttons without thoroughly investigating where they lead to. Sometimes the scam is as simple as an image with a government emblem on it that links to a website containing malware. Just hovering your mouse over the image would be enough to see through it. But some phishing schemes are far more difficult to recognize.

The Google Defender scam

Recently, an email spread to millions of Gmail accounts that almost perfectly imitated a message from Google. The text read:

“Our security system detected several unexpected sign-in attempts on your account. To improve your account safety use our new official application “Google Defender”.

Below that was a button to “Install Google Defender”. What made this scheme so hard to detect is that the button actually links to a totally legitimate site...within Google’s own framework. When third-party app developers create Gmail integrations, Google directs users to an in-house security page that essentially says, “By clicking this you are giving Google Defender access to your entire inbox. Are you sure you want to do this?”

Even to wary users, the original message looks like it came from Google. And the link took them to a legitimate Google security page -- anyone could have fallen for it. The Gmail team immediately began assuring users that they were aware of the scam and working on eradicating it and any potential copycats.

There’s no happy ending to this story. Although vendors and cybersecurity experts were able to respond to the crisis on the same day it was released, millions of accounts were still affected. The best way to prepare your business is with thorough employee training and disaster recovery plans that are prepared to respond to a breach. To find out how we can protect your business, call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

New G Suite features in 2017

Software updates may be a pain to keep up with, but it’s always a nice surprise when Google doles out new updates for their cloud platform. Every month, G Suite, formerly known as Google Apps, gets new updates and enhancements that provide huge quality-of-life improvements for businesses and consumers. This year, there have been stand-out developments for G Suite, and here are some of them.

Shared file storage for teamsThe Team Drives feature, publicly released in March, is Google’s take on team file sharing. Like many cloud platforms, users can store documents, photos, and other files in the cloud and share them with colleagues. The big difference, however, is that content ownership and file permissions are managed at the team level. This makes it easy to give access to team documents for new members and allow teams to retain important files should the original creator of the document leave the company.

Mobile management for iOSFor those who access G Suite via iPhones and iPads, Google has developed Mobile Device Management services. This feature enables companies to secure personal iOS devices without intruding on an employee’s private information. When the “Basic” security option is enabled, for instance, administrators can prompt users to implement a lock screen, wipe data from compromised devices remotely, and keep track of device inventory.

Form templatesG Suite’s Forms function helps you quickly create professional-looking online forms and surveys by giving you access to 100 different file templates to work with. And once you load any of them, you can simply customize the form by dragging and dropping new design elements or removing any unneeded sections.

Centralized searchIn February, Google launched Google Cloud Search, a tool that allows employees to search across all G Suite products such as Drive, Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Contacts, and Sites. The feature takes into account file-sharing permissions, meaning users can access only documents they’re allowed to see.

In addition to retrieving documents, Cloud Search can function as a digital phone book, displaying employee contact information and team schedules with a simple search query. And when viewing a contact’s information in the search results, G Suite gives you the option to start an email, phone call, or Hangout session.

Instant references and citationsThe Explore function, found at the bottom-right corner of every G Suite document, suggests relevant research material -- like journals, articles, and published papers -- for your reports or essays. A few months ago, Google further enhanced this feature by adding the ability to automatically create footnotes and bibliographies -- in any citation style -- when you use content from a recommended source.

We’ve merely scratched the surface of G Suites updates. And with more powerful upgrades set to be released in the coming months, you need to stay abreast of Google developments to make sure you don’t miss out on time-saving features. If you want to be the first to know what new improvements G Suite has to offer, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

‘Always Free’ added to Google Cloud Platform

To those who are unfamiliar with Google Cloud Platform, it’s an app-development program offered via Google’s public cloud. It is Google’s answer to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Like those two cloud platforms, Google Cloud Platform offers similar services and a similarly structured free-trial period. Recently, Google improved its own service with an ‘Always Free’ tier, which enhances its free-trial offering with more cloud features. Let’s take a look.

What’s included?

With 15 new services in total, Google’s ‘Always Free’ Cloud Platform provides users with 5GB of Regional Storage (US only) per month; one f1 micro-compute instance that comes with the requisite virtual machine features; various web applications and mobile backends; NoSQL database; messaging and streaming data services; and loads more.

Not to be confused with the ‘Always Free’ tier, the ‘12-month, $300 free trial’ tier slightly differs from the former with a consumable $300 credit, which can be used for any Google Cloud Platform products such as Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Functions, and Google Stackdriver. This free credit is given upon sign-up and is valid over the course of the 12-month trial period; previously, it could be used only within the first 60 days.

The catch

The ‘Always Free’ tier has usage limits and is subject to eligibility and requirements, which include an upgraded billing account and a good Google account standing. There are also regional restrictions, with many of the associated Google Cloud products and services being offered only in Google’s us-east1, us-west1 and us-central1 regions.

Other providers

Google’s cloud platform services and tier offerings are similar to those of leading cloud providers in the market, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Like Google Cloud Platform, AWS also offers a free tier (‘AWS Free Tier’) and a 12-month free option. Google’s noticeable advantage is the free virtual machines -- something that Amazon does not, or is yet, to offer.

From this new service tier, one can surmise how competitive the cloud market is. Google’s generous offer of a $300 free trial credit was apparently not enough to persuade users of competitors’ services, particularly those who have been using Amazon’s platform, which explains the new and improved ‘Always Free’ tier.

It’s easy to become complacent in choosing the best cloud provider as there are a lot, but even though there are many similarities among the services offered by Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, some cloud platforms fit certain businesses better than others. Looking for a cloud platform that's perfect for your business? Call us today for professional cloud advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

Introducing Cloud Search for G Suite users

Google Cloud Search is the latest tool launched for business customers that allow users to search across their G Suite products including Drive, Gmail, Sites, Calendar, Docs, Contacts and more. It was previously available in a limited preview, named Springboard, and was described as something similar to Google Now for enterprise workers.

Google Cloud Search is designed for larger corporations where different groups and individuals have access to different files. This search engine respects file-sharing permissions, so users can only access what’s available to them, whether that’s company-wide resources such as a policy manual, team projects or documents only they are able to see.

On top of retrieving work documents, Cloud Search also acts as a directory service that allows users to look for their colleagues’ contact information, while simultaneously viewing the events and files they have in common. When viewing a contact’s information in the search results, users will be able to click and start an email, phone call, or a Hangout.

Much like Google Now, Google Cloud Search utilizes a card-style design that presents information to you, whether you’re accessing the search service through your phone or laptop. Google Search also takes advantage of machine intelligence to highlight information it thinks you need to know. In these “assistant cards”, Google Cloud Search will reveal recently accessed files, meeting reminders, notes and more.

Adding machine intelligence to enhance its productivity tools has been Google’s recent focus; this goes hand in hand with the G Suite rebranding. In fact, the company announced a number of machine-powered features such as “Quick Access” in Drive that predicts which file you need before you even begin typing. According to Google, this reduces up to 50 percent off the average time to locate the right file.

The goal of this predictive search service via Google Cloud Search is to offer a productivity boost for G Suite users. Google notes in this blog post announcing Cloud Search, that workers spend 20 percent of their week searching for and consolidating information; the new service aims to reduce that figure. Google Cloud Search is now rolling out to new customers using G Suite Business and Enterprise editions, Google plans on introducing more features and will integrate with third-party applications.

By knowing how to leverage the latest technologies to your advantage, not only will you get a leg up on the competition, you’ll also streamline work processes and drive greater revenue. For further questions or more information, feel free to give us a call or send us an email anytime!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

The right social media platforms for SMBs

Social media marketing is tricky, to say the least. It’s difficult to allocate the resources that create the desired effect, especially when so many platforms are available. Facebook might be the biggest name in the industry, but that doesn’t mean it will suit your organization. Instead, business owners should familiarize themselves with all the available options.

FacebookAccording to the 2017 Wasp Barcode State of Small Business Report, Facebook is the most utilized social media of all the options. Out of the survey’s 1,100+ respondents, 68 percent used Facebook as an integral part of their marketing strategy, with LinkedIn coming in second at 39 percent.

One of the contributing factors to Facebook’s popularity is the fact that it’s currently approaching a total of 2 billion personal users, making it the first place companies go to when they want to increase their brand awareness. Other marketing-specific reasons businesses choose Facebook are social media referral traffic, terrific conversion rates for e-commerce traffic, and a huge impact on user purchasing decisions.

YouTubeYouTube is considered an undervalued social media resource for two main reasons. Firstly, although it’s the second-largest search engine on the internet, it still looms in the giant shadow of its rival Google Search. But when properly utilized, YouTube allows you to create channels for your products or services to be discovered by users, with little more than search optimizations.

Secondly, Google actually owns YouTube, and videos are reportedly 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results than other organic content. Keep in mind that video production quality is more important than ever, so your content needs to be well-produced in order to make an impact.

Google+Engagement and content on sharing might pale in comparison to Facebook, but an active Google+ page measurably contributes to the Google search ranking of your website -- just another way you can ensure your site’s position on the first page of Google results should be done. Also, Google+ has hundreds of millions of users and some of the platform’s features -- such as live Hangouts -- can be utilized to share content across all Google channels, including YouTube.

Snapchat and InstagramIf your target audience is on the younger end of the scale, Snapchat is the way to go. The important thing to keep in mind when you want to connect with 18-24 year olds is to always be fun and creative. Your content doesn’t need to be overly-polished or corporate. Currently, there are over 100 million active users on Snapchat.

As for Instagram, it boasts over 400 million monthly users as well as a more well-rounded user base in terms of age and geography. The content on Instagram should look more professional and more artistic, and there’s an added benefit of direct integration with Facebook every time you post a new picture or video.

YelpReview sites might not be the purest form of social media, but Yelp is another great way to connect with users and respond to (hopefully positive) feedback. If you’re concerned about the controversy and negativity that have arisen from Yelp reviews, the Yelp team is known for helping businesses improve their online status and rise above the harsh comments.

If you still have questions about social media platforms and how to utilize them to your advantage, feel free to contact us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

Free Google apps worth exploring

Google Play has a wealth of applications that you can wyopend a whole day exploring. But with numerous categories and hundreds of apps available on Google’s App Store, looking for productivity-increasing tools may be too time-consuming. Sifting through dozens of potentially helpful apps amidst a bunch of barely useful ones might not be the best use of your time, so we did the choosing for you. And since they’re free, there’s no need to add them to your wishlist.

Chrome Remote Desktop

This cross-platform app provides a tremendous benefit in terms of support. If you need remote assistance, you can grant someone temporary access to your desktop and revoke access once the issue has been resolved. The other benefit is being able to access your own desktop from any of your mobile devices (smartphone, tablet, Chromebook) to work on files or use programs. Simply install the Google Chrome extension, assign a pin for remote access, and start sharing.

Trusted Contacts

It’s a dangerous world out there, which is why location-sharing apps such as Trusted Contacts are heaven sent. With Trusted Contacts, you can request a location from, or share yours with, a contact who's also using the app. Location sharing has long been part of most apps with a GPS functionality, but what sets Trusted Contacts apart is its ability to send a person’s location even when offline. In instances when a person’s location is requested and there’s no answer within 5 minutes, the app automatically sends the contact’s last known location.

Google Handwriting Input

Typing on smartphones isn't easy for everyone, and that’s why enhancements such as Swype are a welcome feature to touchscreen keyboards. Google Handwriting Input works like Swype, but is more flexible and doesn’t require precise strokes. You can ‘handwrite’ your IMs and text messages, perform searches, and even create emojis, using your finger or a stylus. This app may not seem like much, but it can be quite useful for those who communicate in languages with special characters.

Google Trips

Organizing business or leisure travel is taxing, and having to use multiple apps just adds to the chaos. Google Trips reduces your travel hassles by putting all data -- such as itinerary, hotel location, available transportation, and other trip-related info -- into one app and letting you access it online or offline. It also provides recommendations on popular attractions, day trips, and things to do based on the itineraries and other travel-related information you’ve stored in your Gmail.

The answer to some of your business’s most pressing needs may be hidden in plain sight in the App Store. We’re constantly on the lookout for process-enhancing apps and tools, so we know which solutions are best for you. Contact us today for advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

G Suite vs. Office 365

Google and Microsoft have both set impressive milestones in the tech industry. These industry giants continually roll out innovative solutions that simplify the lives of users around the world, especially with G Suite and Office 365. This raises a question: Which is a better option for your business?

Cost and commitmentG Suite offers two pricing plans: $5 and $10 per user per month. The $5 plan offers company email addresses, video and voice calls, integrated online calendars, online documents, presentations and spreadsheets and more.

The $10 plan offers all the features of the $5 plan plus unlimited storage or 1TB per user for less than 5 members, advanced admin control panel for Google Drive, and audit and reporting insights for Drive content and sharing, to name a few.

  • Office 365 offers a number of pricing plans, including:
  • Office 365 Business Essentials ($5.00 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Business ($8.25 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Business Premium ($12.50 per user per month)
  • Office 365 ProPlus ($12.00 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise E1 ($8.00 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3 ($20.00 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise E5 ($35.00 per user per month)
We’ll compare two plans from Office 365 with the same pricing as G Suite below; you can find more details about Office 365’s other plans here.
  • Office 365 Business Essentials will cost $5 per user per month with annual subscription. Monthly subscription will cost $6 per user per month, meaning you’ll save $1 user per month with G Suite.
  • Office 365 Enterprise E1 will cost $2 less than G Suite’s $10 plan
Applications

Google Apps are designed for cloud-based collaboration. For instance, Google Docs lets you make permanent changes in the file or provide feedback using “suggestion” mode. Other advanced features in G Suite include machine intelligence in Google Calendar (which helps you find a time when invitees are free), Dynamic layout suggestions in Google Slides, and better file management and granular content ownership.

Microsoft apps, on the other hand, are designed based on desktop versions of their products with enhanced cloud capability -- you’ll be able to use cloud versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and more while still being able to work offline. More advanced integration with Microsoft’s cloud solutions like SharePoint, Dynamic CRM, and Azure are also available.

Security

G Suite leverages machine learning capabilities to detect suspicious logins and block most advanced types of spam. It automatically scans every email attachment before you download it to prevent the spread of viruses.

Office 365 utilizes Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), a new email filtering service that targets specific advanced threats like unknown malware and viruses in real time to protect against malicious URLs.

Email

While both Office 365 and G Suite offer a clean interface, the difference lies in the way emails are organized. Gmail lets you apply multiple labels to an email and offers 30GB of storage space across Gmail and Drive.

Office 365 uses classical folder structure to categorize emails and offers a 50-GB inbox in addition to 1-TB storage space. Unlimited storage is also available in its Enterprise E3 $20 per user per month plan.

Third-party integration

G Suite’s integration with CRM, productivity and customer service software gives you plenty of options. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Office 365, as Microsoft hasn’t been adopting a developer integration approach when compared with Google.

Support

Both G Suite and Office 365 offer 24/7 phone and email support. However, G Suite also offers live chat support and forums to seek clarification, give feedback and request additional functionality.

To sum up, G Suite is a better solution if you need native integration with third-party apps and support for various operating systems and devices. Despite that, Office 365 makes sense if you prefer a number of options when it comes to your pricing plans or need integration with other Microsoft cloud solutions. No matter the solution, maximizing productivity is imperative to stay ahead of competitors. If you need help finding the right solutions to enhance efficiency, just give us a call; we’re happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

Type and talk on enhanced Google Assistant

By now, that voice on your smartphone that you constantly rely on to search for recipes or movie schedules may already be part of your Googling routine. As helpful as it is, barking commands at your Google Assistant, an intelligent personal assistant, isn’t always the best way to go. Not to worry, as the brains at Google are on track to coming up with several workarounds.

A new type of Google Assistant

Don’t be surprised when a keyboard icon pops up on your Google app one of these days. This is your cue to type in something instead of verbally dictating as you normally would. Once you tap the icon, a text field will appear for your written commands. It may not seem like the most helpful or innovative update on the app, but it presents several benefits.

This update may come in handy when you’re in meetings, when you’re too sick to speak, when you’re in a noisy and crowded venue, or if you prefer to give your assistant precisely worded instructions. If you’re not impressed with this enhancement, consider it a neat alternative that the geniuses at Google offered.

Features of “Search gestures”

Aside from the keyboard icon, a “search gesture” functionality might also be on the way. It would let plus-sized smartphone users perform Google searches right on their device’s home screen… with a simple and swift swipe. Based on recent updates from Google, this feature would provide a reprieve from having to tap the Google search bar at the top, a point of concern for users of large-screened tablets and smartphones. Regardless of what the “Search gestures” feature aims to improve, it’s probably geared at further simplifying the search function across all devices.

Google-assisted wearables

The folks at Google are also reportedly working on integrating Google Assistant on Android Wear devices. Based on the latest Google App updates, an Android Wear Assistant looks to be on the horizon for users of Android’s smartwatch. Among all the reported updates on Google Assistant, this is where speculation runs the highest. If it pushes through, Android smartwatch wearers may soon be empowered to make commands to Google Assistant at any place and at any time – even while running.

Although these updates are still in the early stages, they’re bound to benefit personal and business users once launched. Google’s efforts at pushing these small yet significant changes may mean crucial improvements for your business, too. To maximize related technology at your disposal, get in touch with us now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

Google announces “App Maker”

Until fairly recently, the development and creation of apps was a task accomplished only by seasoned coders and programmers. However, Google’s newest product offers businesses and users the opportunity to create their own apps with little to no programming language required. The goal is to compete with Microsoft and similar platforms for app creation and make the app development process easier for anyone. If you are interested in designing your own app but don’t have any programming experience, continue reading to learn more about this development.

Google released App Maker as a full-service solution for businesses that need apps but do not want to hire a developer to fill the role. Business owners can use the drag-and-drop features of the service to bring in data, information, and files from other G Suite apps like Gmail, Google Calendar and the like. This makes it easy to integrate new apps into the existing business infrastructure.

Once the app is finalized and launched using Google's App Maker, it can be managed just like any other existing G Suite app or program. App Maker was designed to create apps that serve a specific purpose in business, such as time-tracking and order-processing.

Although this service is quick and easy for users without programming experience, App Maker also offers more in-depth programming options for those who want to be a bit more creative with a built-in scripting editor option.

Many businesses are looking to go serverless in many of their business endeavors, and with App Maker, Google takes note of that concept and embraces it. Google App Maker is a cloud-based tool, fully integrated with the G Suite of Google product offerings, making it an easy and versatile tool for businesses to use and share with managers, employees, and more.

If you think that App Maker is the right solution for your business app creation needs, contact us for guidance in the process of generating your first app for your business using Google's App Maker.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

Google makes mobile search a priority

More people use Google than they use any other search tool available. Because of this, Google constantly strives to improve functionality and its users’ search experience. So to that end, Google recently decided to make mobile search its top priority. Learn more about why the company has chosen to do so and what this could mean for you and your business.

Google search is a tool that works through the use of ‘bots.’ These bots are responsible for trawling through the web and sorting and categorizing websites based on the content, location, and other factors associated with the site to give users the most relevant sites possible to their searches. Google has long used the same algorithms and search tools for all search platforms.

However, the newest Google search updates will move Google in a new direction, creating an entirely different mobile-only search index for people performing Google searches on mobile devices. This separate mobile search index is becoming the primary search index for the Google search tool. Basically, this means that mobile users are going to get the most frequently updated search results and that people who use desktop search tools will see different search results that are possibly not as well-filtered.

The primary reason for these changes is simple. Google has found that the vast majority of the searches performed with Google were performed on mobile devices. Because there were so many people using Google search on mobile devices, Google wants to make the user experience on smartphones and tablets as responsive as possible.

Another reason for the mobile-first priority is that people searching Google on mobile devices often look for quick info about business hours, addresses, or the weather, or for immediate answers to whatever other questions they might have. Google wants to ensure that these users get what they need when they need it. And of course, a mobile-first search tool will help ensure that the sites that do appear in a mobile search are optimized for mobile devices so that they load quickly and correctly.

With these facts and reasons in mind, you can better understand why Google search is transitioning to a mobile-first platform and how this may affect you and your business. To make sure your business is ready for this transition, contact us for further help and guidance.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Continue reading

What makes Google Pixel so special?

This year, Google announced its grand entry into a market largely dominated by major companies like Samsung and Apple with the production of its first smartphone -- the Google Pixel. Although it sports a design similar to the iPhone, Google is planning to offer distinct features that will enhance the user experience. What are they, and will they make Google Pixel stand out from other smartphones?

A fantastic smartphone cameraWhen purchasing a smartphone, a good camera is one of the must-haves. And in this area, Google Pixel does not disappoint, as it has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market. With a 12.3-megapixel rear camera, the Google Pixel can capture high-quality photos in both bright and poorly-lit environments. For selfie enthusiasts, Google’s smartphone also sports an 8-megapixel front camera, which is much more powerful than the iPhone 7’s.

Long battery lifeDue to the complex programs that run on them, many smartphones are unable to offer long battery life. But this isn’t a problem with the Google smartphone. The Google Pixel can last for as long as 13 hours with extended internet use. What’s more, just a short time charging yields hours of potential use. Experts say that with only 15 minutes of plug-in time, the phone will operate for up to 7 hours.

Robust specsOne of the weaknesses of Microsoft’s smartphone was its mediocre specifications compared to other handheld devices at the time. Pixel users will find no problems here. To compete with the iPhone, Google Pixel is starting strong with a 1080p screen, 1.6GHz quad processor, 4GB of RAM, and a minimum of 32GB of storage space. Additionally, because it runs with the Android operating system, Pixel can comfortably outperform many other smartphone models.

As for its design, the device looks a lot like the iPhone, but comes in three distinct colors amusingly named “really blue,” “very silver,” and “quite black.” Learning from the missteps of previous companies’ smartphone efforts, Google Pixel has focused on borrowing only the successful elements of prominent smartphone developers to ensure a bit of market share from the beginning.

One of the best contenders in the marketApple and Samsung phones may still be the cream of the crop, but Google’s entry is quickly catching up. With pricing in line with the iPhone 7 (USD$649), Google is certainly confident in its hardware. We suppose only time will tell whether Google has reached a smartphone breakthrough or if it will flop like so many companies before them.

Want to stay up to date with the the latest Google developments? Contact us today and we’ll bring you up to speed.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

0 Comments
Continue reading

Think your Google history is gone for good?

Like breaking up with past lovers, when deleting something from our browsing history, we all have that lingering feeling that it’s never really gone. Some may even suspect that multinational tech giants such as Google might have been keeping tabs on all the searches you’ve made -- and they’re right. Unless a genie granted you an invisibility cloak for your deleted search items, they remain visible. Fortunately, that is reversible -- here’s how:

It’s estimated that Google currently processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. It begs this question: How does Google manage to keep tabs on such a jaw-dropping amount?

It’s not like Google is a superior being capable of seeing and hearing all. It’s only when you log into your Gmail or Google account that Google will be able to record it all -- removed items included. See your very own search history by using the link: history.google.com/history. In that history page, Google even has its own specific audio page as well as meticulous records of every single place you’ve been to on the Internet.

You can even analyze the information with the handy “search my searches” tool. Image searches and watched YouTube videos are also recorded. Previous Google Maps searches can also be reviewed, and if you feel like it, you can download your entire history and browse through it in your spare time.

For those wishing to delete certain files or certain search records, the Independent advises you on exactly how to do it:
“To delete particular files, you can click the checkbox on the left and then move back to the top of the page and select ‘delete.’ To get rid of everything, you can press the ‘More’ button, select ‘Delete options’ and then ‘Advanced’ and click through. The easiest way to stop Google recording everything is to turn off the virtual assistant and never to use voice search. But that solution also gets at the central problem of much privacy and data use today – doing so cuts off one of the most useful things about having an Android phone or using Google search.”

Another method would be to head over to the top left of the screen where you’ll find a drop-down menu that includes the option “Activity Controls.” Select this and then switch off the slider marked “Web & App Activity.”

Keeping records might come in handy when you want to look back for something, but for those who enjoy their privacy, there are ways to prevent Google from going through your search history. For more information, please give us a call or send us an email. We are more than happy to help in any way we can.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

0 Comments
Continue reading

Enhance searches with these Google tricks

Much like capturing someone’s heart, mastering the art of fully utilizing Google Search takes time, dedication and the willingness to learn new things. It’s an undeniable fact that we use Google Search almost on a daily basis, yet the only expertise we demonstrate is inputting a couple of terms and then relying on the search engine to do the work for you. Enhance each and every search with the help of these 12 tips:

Get Olympic updates

Get into the spirit of the games by keeping up with the latest medal tally and other interesting news about the 2016 Rio Olympics. Simply type in “rio olympics” and you’ll be greeted with two options:

  1. Above the search results, you’ll see a temporary suggestion offering a shortcut on your home screen to quickly look up the latest Olympic news. Ideal if you want to check every now and then.
  2. If you prefer immediate notification, simply scroll down a little and click on “Get Olympics updates.” By doing so, notifications will be sent straight to your phone anytime a major event occurs.

    Search for exact phrases with quotes

    This tip is ideal if you're looking to locate results that contain a specific phrase. Searching for a phrase in quotes will bring up results that have only the exact words in the same order.

    Specify unknown words within quotes

    Look up variations of a certain phrase with ease. Simply replace a certain word with an asterisk. It’ll help you determine a song from its lyrics or find the missing words in an incomplete expression.

    Utilize the minus sign

    Refine search results even further by using the minus sign. That will help filter out results that aren’t of any interest. Figure out what terms you don’t want to see (e.g., Jaguar -car) and refresh your search.

    Website keywords

    This is similar to the “site:” function that initiates a Google search that sifts through one particular website. For example, if you want to see every time TIME.com is mentioned in Google, use Google site:TIME.com

    Go through archives dating back to the mid-1880s

    If nostalgia pays you a visit, Google won’t leave you hanging since there’s an option that allows you to search through newspapers from around the world archived centuries ago.

    Use “vs” to compare foods

    With the myriad of food options available these days, sometimes we just need help deciding. Not sure what to have for dinner? Try typing in “rice vs. quinoa” for a side-by-side nutritional comparison.

    Filter search results for recipes

    Don’t let dietary restrictions rain on your parade. After looking up your favorite dish, click on Search Tools under the search bar to filter recipes based on ingredients, cook time, and even calories.

    DEFINE: the definition

    Instead of flicking through dictionaries, save time by entering DEFINE: before any word (slang included). You’ll also see its etymology as well as a graph depicting its linguistic usage over time.

    Where is the love?

    For those looking to add a little romance into their lives, simply press the mic icon on Google’s search bar and say something sweet like “I love you.” This recently-released love quote generator does all the searching for you. If that doesn’t the stir enough butterflies in your stomach, simply click Try Again below the results bar.

With the right tips, you can save time and locate the needle in today’s virtual haystack with ease. If you still have any questions regarding any of the Google search engine tips mentioned above, don’t hesitate to mail us or give us a call. We are more than happy to accommodate your requests.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

0 Comments
Continue reading

Google indexing: 4 tips for better results

Fewer and fewer people are taking phone calls for granted. That is to say, more and more of us have become discerning when it comes to ringing up our friends, family, colleagues, and customers. And the reason for this is simple: we no longer have to rely on traditional phone companies and pricey calling plans. We can now use VoIP.

In technical terms, VoIP is a broadband phone service that uses the internet instead of a public switched telephone network (PSTN) for things like voice calls and video conferencing. In simpler terms, VoIP stands for “Voice over IP” which is another way of saying “making phone calls over the internet instead of over traditional telephone lines.”

Here are some statistics on internet-based communications that really show where the trend is heading:

  • Telecom companies are losing an average of 700,000 landline customers per month.
  • Skype’s 300 million users spend an average of 3 billion minutes per day on calls.
  • During its annual stockholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that there are 15 to 20 million FaceTime calls every day -- and this was back in 2014.

Why the big numbers?

Surely you’ve noticed that you incur no charges when using an application like FaceTime for that quick face-to-face with your associate who’s away on business, or for the video conference with your clients who are stuck at LAX after a cancelled flight.

But phone calls for free aren’t the only advantage of VoIP. Many of us utilize it because it has features and benefits that make it a more attractive alternative to the phone company’s usual mobile calling plans.

Take the VoIP functionality in Apple’s latest version of its iOS operating system (iOS 10). Apps like Skype and Facebook Messenger are so well incorporated that they work just like the iPhone’s own phone application. Incoming/outgoing calls interface just like your regular phone, your contacts are fully integrated...You can hardly tell the difference.

So as consumers and businesses continue to recognize the benefits of VoIP and default to applications like FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, Line, or Viber for their calling needs, will conventional providers like AT&T, Verizon, Rogers, Bell Canada, etc. get squeezed out?

Can you ditch your legacy voice plans altogether?

It’s food for thought, and even if you don’t abandon them entirely, there are plenty of reasons to make broadband internet phone service a part of your day-to-day operations. And not only on your smartphones and other mobile devices.

Did you know that small businesses that change over to a VoIP network can save up to 40% on their local calls and up to 90% on their international calls? Or that a recent piece in PC World indicated that a business with 30 users on its calling plan saves nearly $1,200 per month when switching to VoIP?

Add in features like call recording, call-routing, conference call bridges, auto attendants, and virtual faxing and it’s easy to see why roughly 31% of all businesses now employ some type of internet-based VoIP telephone system.

So if you have a good-quality internet connection and you’re intrigued by the prospects of moving your business away from your local phone company’s services, we’re here to help. Call us today and together we’ll develop a robust VoIP solution that delivers cost savings, provides state-of-the-art functionality, and presents a professional image to the world.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

0 Comments
Continue reading

Springboard: a unified Google cloud service

Google claims that five million organizations around the world use Apps for Work, which is why their recent announcement regarding the service is such a big deal. If you use more than one of these services, you may love them as standalone apps but probably feel they could use some more cross functionality. Yet again, Google is here to save the day. Let’s take a look at what they have in store for their cloud platform.

Although it has been a long time since we’ve seen a big update from the service, the silence was finally broken when Google unveiled Springboard earlier this month. To understand what this new tool does, we need to get a better idea of the problem it aims to solve. Apps for Work includes ten separate cloud software packages that allow users to create, share and collaborate documents without any local installations. All of these services keep documents in Google’s cloud storage for quick and easy access from any web-based device.

Unfortunately, most of these applications run independently of each other and individual documents need to be shared between each platform for there to be proper cross functionality. In fact, Google estimates that Apps for Work users currently waste nearly one full day each week tracking down and researching information in their Google cloud storage. And that’s exactly what Google wants to change.

Springboard will allow users to connect all of their Apps for Work documents into one file system. Did you schedule a meeting but can’t remember if you used Gmail, Google Calendar, or your meetings spreadsheet? No need to pinball between the different applications until you eventually find it, one simple search will scan all of your Google cloud storage.

As if this simple but vital upgrade wasn’t enough, they’ve also claimed that Springboard will provide recommendations and suggestions for “actionable information”. This suggests that we will see something equivalent to Google Now for our business accounts, where Google will begin to recognize search habits, appointments and requests within the text of your Apps for Works documents and turn them into unprompted recommendations.

Alongside the Springboard announcement was a pretty large update to another Apps for Work service: Sites. This tool allows Google business users to create intranet sites for collaboration and organization, and the update increases the functionality to include more dynamic design tools like automatic mobile optimization, drag and drop frames and live editing on the page. Unsurprisingly, it also showcases a new function to search across all company Apps for Work documents. Almost like a customizable version of Google Drive for your office.

Despite the announcement of these services, Google has refrained from providing demonstrations or screenshots as of yet. Although the Springboard and Sites updates are currently only available to early adopters, companies can sign up to join that group and try it out for themselves.

Interested in signing up to try it out? Or do you currently use the free, less equipped version of Google Apps and think it’s time to make the switch to Apps for Work? We’re experts in all things Google and want to show you what it can do for you -- send us your questions today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

0 Comments
Continue reading

Five key announcements from Google I/O 2016

Drawing inspiration from King Arthur’s annual gathering of his knights at the round table, Google I/O is the 21st Century adaption. At this annual conference, knights are now developers and the sword and shield have become computers and software. Every year, the conference addresses (in great detail) the rundown of all the major announcements as well as products. Here are five of them:

Google Assistant

Unlike its predecessor, Google Now responded exclusively to voice queries, Google Assistant is less clunky and is slightly more personal. This upgraded version does the same but also manages to book flight tickets, order takeout, and just about anything else by simply searching in Google. The Google Assistant can even make recommendations, distinguish your questions, and return with the 'right' answer. Think of Anne Hathaway in the Devil Wears Prada, but on your smartphone.

Google Home

Since its release, Amazon’s voice-controlled computer took the US by storm. Google responds to the situation by announcing the tentative release of Google Home. According to the tech giant, it is equipped with the best-in-class voice recognition technology. Google Assistant is also integrated into Google Home, which will allow you to order an Uber, get down on Spotify, set daily alarms or inquire about the weather.

Allo and Duo

Sounding like the quintessential Cockney greeting, Allo is dubbed Google’s new smart messaging app. Where does the smart come from? Not straying too far from the general nature of other messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger - Allo also has nifty built in with nifty features such as “Smart Reply”, where it suggests responses when you don’t feel like typing. On top of that, you can converse with Google Assistant on Allo, and simultaneously order pizza while bickering over the toppings.

As for Duo, it’s basically Google’s version of FaceTime or Skype, allowing for internet video calls. Both applications will be available on iOS and Android operating systems this summer.

Virtual Reality

Daydream is the latest step taken in Google’s venture into virtual reality. This feature allows certain phones to enhance VR. Google is also set to release a Play Store, Street View and YouTube just for VR. On top of that, a blueprint of a third-party friendly headset as well as controller reminiscent of Apple TV’s Siri-powered pointer has also been produced.

Android Wear

Plenty of new features accommodate the recently updated Android Wear 2.0, the most notable of which are applications that can run without having to rely on the usage of smartphones, potentially boosting the overall efficiency of smartwatches. Not only that, it has become easier to respond to messages on Android Wear through the Smart Reply and handwriting recognition features. Also, there are new fitness functions that is set to roll out this summer.

We hope this Google I/O 2016 roundup was beneficial for you. For any further information on the key announcements or products to look out for this year, feel free to contact us anytime!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

0 Comments
Continue reading

Master your messages with these Gmail hacks

Gmail has become a powerful email option for businesses since it can be attached to your domain. Easy to use, accessible from anywhere and always up-to-date, it has a lot to offer business users. But if you only use Gmail to send and receive emails, you’re barely scratching the surface of its true capabilities and lesser known features. Here we’ve listed some of the most useful Gmail tricks that will help you take full advantage of what Gmail has to offer beyond sending and receiving messages.

Unsend emails

Ever had that moment when you’re in a hurry to type up an email and send it off only to notice a few seconds later there were a couple of mistakes? Maybe you’ve forgotten to attach a file or misspelled a word. Heck, you may have even sent it to the wrong recipient! Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. This is the moment where Gmail’s ‘Undo Send’ feature will become your new best friend. You can activate this by clicking on the gear icon on the top right hand corner of Gmail, then go to Settings. Scroll down to Undo Send and hit the Enable box. Now you have up to 30 seconds to click the ‘Undo’ button that will pop up once your email’s been sent.

Create to-do lists

Gmail provides an easy way to create a task list that you can use to keep track of all the things you have to do in a minimizable window. This way you won’t have to send yourself an email and clutter your inbox every time you need to remind yourself to do something. Adding a to-do list is easy; simply click the Mail menu in the upper left corner of the Gmail window and choose Tasks. A small window will appear in the bottom right corner of the page, and here you can type in your tasks and check the boxes once you’ve completed each of them.

Prioritize emails

Some emails are too important to be buried in a crowded inbox. This is where you can use Gmail’s Star feature to your advantage. Adding stars is a way to single out emails that need to be read later or require a follow-up. You might already know that clicking the yellow star beside the email will highlight the line and makes the message easier to find. But there’s a way to take things up a notch. Navigate to Settings and scroll down to the Stars section. Here you can drag the stars from the ‘Not in use’ row up to the ‘In use’ row to make them active. Once you’re done, hit Save. You could use the blue star for emails that need a follow-up, red for problems, question mark for the ones that require clarification and so on.

Use canned responses

Have you ever had to answer the same questions sent by clients over and over again? Well you’re in luck. Gmail has a productive hack that allows you to create and send off repetitive messages in just a few clicks. Activate it by heading over to Settings, Labs and click the Enable button in the Canned Responses tab. Now type up a response email. Click the arrow in the lower right corner of the message box and select Canned responses. You can add common phrases, sentences or email bodies that you find yourself using a lot, whether for marketing inquiries, sales pitches or client requests.

With these Gmail features you can save time, get more things done and become more productive. If you want to learn more about Gmail or any other Google apps, please get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

0 Comments
Continue reading

Google and the Fight for Chat Dominance

It’s no great industry secret that despite dominating in other areas, Google is seriously lagging behind the competition when it comes to instant messaging applications. And now, rumor has it, the tech giant is preparing to put a stop to that and finally make its mark in this area. But what can Google offer that its rivals don’t, and why would you consider switching allegiance from your favorite chat app? Information is scant but we’re already privy to a few details.

Chats apps: most of us are glued to them throughout the day. You only have to look at the hoards of sidewalk and public transport zombies to realize that. In the West the market is dominated by Facebook’s own Messenger feature, and WhatsApp which they acquired back in February 2014 for an eye-watering $19 billion. Look to the East and Japan, Thailand and Indonesia are mostly committed to Line while in China WeChat is the messaging app of choice, and has taken over lives to the extent that users can pay for everything from a coffee at 7-Eleven to a taxi ride with the app.

With such a potentially massive, and lucrative, market to tap into it’s not surprising that Google has decided to get back in on the action and are no longer content to sit on the sidelines. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal gives us a sneak peek into just how Google might be staging their comeback.

Comeback you say? Yes - remember Wave? Remember Google Talk? Even now Google’s current offering, Hangouts, has failed to set the instant messaging world on fire. Initially developed as the video calling and instant messaging function within Google Plus - Google's answer to Facebook - Hangouts may have a core base of loyal fans but it consistently fails to feature among the most popular downloads in the Apple or Google app stores.

So what does Google have up their sleeve in an attempt to reverse their ailing chat app fortunes? The WSJ’s piece reports that the company is developing an app that enables users to not only chat with friends and co-workers, but also with ‘chatbots’. These chatbots are designed to assist with queries and searches - and given that Google’s strength lies in searching the web to find relevant results (or answers) could this be the thing that differentiates them from their rivals?

Well, not quite because since the beginning of 2015, Facebook has been testing “M” – a semi-automated digital assistant within Messenger that combines manual human labor and artificial intelligence to answer users’ questions, find information and even book appointments. Google clearly wants to compete with Facebook as Google Plus, albeit unsuccessfully, demonstrates. And seeing as the company already has powerful search capabilities at their disposal this could give them the edge – particularly if they can fully automate.

As of writing Google hasn’t revealed a name for their chatbot-powered messaging app nor has any timeline been released. All we really know is that the AI boffins at Google have been working on the project for around a year. Until more details are made public consumers will just have to sit tight and see if the service does see daylight. And if it does whether it will be a viable contender in the battle for chat app supremacy or if like Hangouts it is destined to forever snap lamely at the heels of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and Line.

Want to know how you can help your small or medium-sized business stay one step ahead of YOUR competition? Talk to us today about implementing IT solutions that really will give you the edge.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

0 Comments
Continue reading