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July 3, 2008

Second-Class Google Citizens

Every time Google releases a new feature for Gmail, Calendar, Google Docs etc. people who use Google Apps are left wondering whether they'll get the new feature. Sometimes they have to guess addresses, like for the new mobile Google Talk. They are supposed to figure out that the Google Apps version of: is

Besides having to deal with delayed updates and mysterious addresses, Google Apps users usually have at least one standard Google account and it's difficult to switch between the two parallel worlds. I noticed that when you go to Google Sites and you're logged using both a Google account and a Google Apps account, you are asked to choose one of them:

Maybe Google could somehow integrate Google accounts with Google Apps accounts so you can access all the services and get all the new features. The services that are part of Google Apps should have a customized interface and functionality, while the other services should only interact with them so you can, for example, share Google Reader items with your Google Talk contacts.


  1. My biggest complaint is not to be able to use my Google Apps ID to chat with my current GMail contacts

  2. YES.

    I use GTalk with my Google Apps account, and as a consequence I've never been able to use iGoogle's GTalk widget -- it asks me to register a GTalk account :(

  3. Google Talk needs to support multiple accounts. Period.

  4. Google needs to do a lot more to get things integrated. When I switched to google apps a while back, I had to re-create all my labels and re-label all mail that I brought in from other gmail accounts....just as if they all were not on google at all. Was a real pain. But they might have made things easier since then.

    Specifically concerning this post, I had to search all over the internets before I found a blog posting telling me how to connect to the mobile web version of gmail apps. There was no official documentation whatsoever. It works perfectly and is a real benefit, so I'm not sure what the issue is about not documenting these services that they have and that completely work. It's obviously not like google is concerned about something being "beta"!

  5. Can someone put together a list of the hidden URLs and post somewhere?

  6. Mobile Gmail:
    Mobile Google Calendar:
    Mobile Google Docs:
    Mobile Google for iPhone:

  7. Mobile Gmail App:
    Google Talk Gadget:
    Mobile Google Talk Gadget for iPhone:

  8. This is an outstanding, spot-on post, and I hope Google takes this criticism to heart. Picasa and the Picasa Web Albums are an especially big pain in the ass; whereas Google Reader, Notebook, and Blogger at least let me log in using, Picasa recognizes none of these. And it's still not clear whether the others are actually part of the same account as my Google Apps, or if it's a separate Google Account, or what.

    Second class citizens indeed...

  9. As an Apps admin, I do appreciate Google Apps' hesitation in automatically rolling out every new Google feature. For instance- GMail labs. What if something went really, really wrong with Labs integration and I suddenly had 50+ users in my firm asking ME for support.

    On the other hand, they're way too slow to update/fix some things. Case in point the Apps Start Page not keeping up with iGoogle start page features (particularly the soft-core porn widgets showing up with images).

    Integration of other services would be fantastic, though. Why isn't Analytics set up in my admin account? Webmaster Tools? How about Picasa for domain-wide internal photo sharing like Docs & Sites? Even Reader for my Apps account would be great to have...

  10. This is the only reason why I still don't actively use my Google Apps account. It's just a pain that Google Apps doesn't keep up with the features. Ken

  11. Excellent suggestion!
    I would be happy just to be able to merge my Google account with my Google Apps account. Currently I have one of each, using the same email address, but different passwords since Google Apps is less stringent. Just let Google use my Google Apps login. How hard can it be?

  12. More hidden URLs (Google Docs related) (only secure http ones listed):

    Contact manager

    You may be pleased to learn that a workaround currently exists that will allow you to edit your contact list without
    a Gmail account. To reach the standalone version of your contact list, please visit: (for private Google Docs accounts) (for Google Apps with Google Docs accounts)

    Gmail users can also use: (for private Google Docs accounts that have Gmail)
    or (for those having a Google Apps with Google Docs and Gmail account)

    Please note that you must first sign in to your Google Docs account in order to view these pages. If you aren't signed in, you'll receive an error message.

  13. "whereas Google Reader, Notebook, and Blogger at least let me log in using"

    >>> Nope you cannot use you Google Apps account to sign in Google Reader

  14. You're right -- it turns out I'm using the same email address and password as my Google Apps account, but it's technically a separate Google Account. Talk about confusing...

  15. Excellent post. I find it very frustrating to have to switch between my regular Google Account for some apps (i.e. Reader, Notebook) and my Apps Account.

    Perhaps if Google Apps accounts were OpenIDs and all Google applications (outside of Google Apps) could accept OpenID accounts this would not be such an issue?

  16. Amen. 1) We need the "option" to merge accounts and 2) We need the ability to hook into Reader, Notebook, etc., using our Apps Account. Apps users are probably more Google followers than anyone. Don't make it confusing for us.

    P.S. Sites needs a faster development cycle.

  17. Definitely need Reader in Apps. Not really sure why it isn't there yet.

  18. Second class citizens is exactly right. Last night my wife was trying to send pictures from picasso and gmail just said failed with no explanation or anything, but it was because it tried to send with her google apps account. The google exec who left for microsoft saying that google isn't structured to be able to do enterprise class apps hit the nail on the head.

  19. I agree that it needs some real co-integration and some more focus... Apps is one of the best things that happened to small design/hosting shops as we can setup apps accounts for our clients and get out of the email admin business... for that, it's great... but for real power users, it's lacking in what people get from generic google/gmail accounts. This is an issue.

  20. Great post Ionut! This is exactly why I still have my regular Google account and my fairly new Google Apps account. I heavily use Reader, Picasa, Blogger, and of course the new features are always rolling out significantly faster on the regular Google account than the Google Apps account.

    On a side note, recently I've been noticing the new Gmail features roll out almost as quickly as the regular Google account (e.g., new contacts feature, tracking open sessions, etc.

    I hope this post will help push Google to release Reader and at least Blogger to Google Apps!

  21. I am facing terrible problems because of lack of complete integration. As google and its apps are becoming more popular, it is high time for google to think about complete integration

  22. What would it take to get a respone from google on the matter? I'm missing it terribly too - I couldn't even use my google account to make this comment, I feel left out

  23. Also there needs to be support for OAuth based Gadgets (like on Igoogle) on the Google Apps Start Page.

    OAuth based gadgets can turn any spreadsheet into interactive read and write gadgets. Now this will be pretty cool feature to have.

    Also, a Organization is a social group, how about OpenSocial support down the line for Google Apps.

  24. I think it is insane that Google provides the Gtalk functionality and chat back with the Apps account, but fails to provide a way for apps users to log into the Gtalk desktop client, that apparently requires a traditional google account! To increase the entanglement, google prompts Apps users to create mirror google accounts and associate the two which really blurs the line between which account controls which application and where.