Google Apps today announced a new feature release process aimed at helping you balance the benefits of accessing improvements as soon as they're ready with the task of integrating the changes into your organization. The new process has two release tracks that Google Apps administrators can choose from:
- Rapid Release track customers have access to new features as soon as the features have completed testing and quality assurance, and are ready to roll out.
- Scheduled Release track customers gain access to new features on a regular, weekly release schedule following the initial release of those features. This delay allows time for admins to familiarize themselves with new features using a test domain, educate support staff, and communicate any changes to their users. New features will be released on the Scheduled Release track each Tuesday, with at least a one-week notice following the initial feature launch.
To support this new process, Google also developed a new launch communication tool for all users that brings together all the information need to track Google Apps releases. This portal can be found at whatsnew.googleapps.com, and is a great place to learn about recent and upcoming features, and find training resources for your users.
"New features for Gmail, Contacts, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Sites will be following this new release process going forward. If your organization previously had "Pre-release features" enabled in the Apps control panel, then you'll be placed on Rapid Release and continue to gain access to new features as soon as they're ready. Otherwise, your organization will be placed on Scheduled Release. You can always change your selection by choosing how you would like to receive new features in the Google Apps control panel. If you're considering a switch to Scheduled Release, note that you may currently be using some features that're only available in Rapid Release," Google explains.