Google Apps New Releases: Want Them Now Or Later?

Google Apps has been popularized by the ability to be updated and improved with a simple browser refresh when new features are made available, without having to wait for a new release. Users also don't have to manage a complex set of installers, software, patches or hardware upgrades.

But for some Google Apps users, the constant stream of new releases and updates became cumbersome, Google said.

"We're always excited to bring you the newest features as soon as they're ready, but we've heard from some customers with complex IT environments that they'd like more notice before new features are deployed to their users," wrote Anna Mongayt of Google Enterprise Operations in a blog post highlighting the new Google Apps release schedule options.

Google Tuesday unveiled a new feature release process that helps users determine whether they want to receive and deploy new updates and improvements as soon as their they're ready or wait to integrate the changes into the cloud computing and IT environments.

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Google Apps admins now have two distinct processes to pick from: The Rapid Release process gives customers acess to new features as soon as Google has completed testing and quality assurance and they are ready to be rolled out. The Scheduled Release processes lets customers access new features on a regular, weekly release schedule following the initial release of the new features.

"This delay allows time for administrators to familiarize themselves with new features using a test domain, educate support staff, and communicate any changes to their users," Mongayt wrote. "New features will be released on the Scheduled Release track each Tuesday, with at least a one-week notice following the initial feature launch."

Mongayt said that new features for Gmail, Contacts, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google sites will follow the new release process going forward. If an organization already had "Pre-release features" enabled in the Google Apps control panel, they will be placed on the Rapid Release track and continue immediate access to new features when they're rolled out. If not, organizations will be added to the Scheduled Release track. Users are able to choose which track they wish to be on in the Google Apps control panel, Mongayt wrote.

Along with the new release schedule, Google also developed new launch communication tools, a portal that lets users learn about recent and upcoming features and find training resources for users.