The war between Google and Microsoft is escalating today with the introduction of new technology that makes it easier than ever to build applications that integrate directly with Google Apps.
This new Google Apps API, or application programming interface, provides the “hooks” that turns Google Docs into more of a platform — outside services can now integrate with Google Apps in a deeper way than ever before.
At launch, Google is announcing integrations with a wide range of business apps, including Salesforce, SAP, and Trello, with more to come as more developers adopt that API.
Enlisting these developers is a sign that the search giant is renewing its push to topple Microsoft Office’s stranglehold on workplace productivity.
The new API is starting with the Google Sheets spreadsheet app and Slides presentation tool on the web, but the search giant promises it will expand all over. Google also announced an expanded Classroom API for Google Apps for Education that will let homework providers shoot assignments straight into a classroom’s assignment feed.
The basic idea here is that once an outside app is hooked up with Google Apps, you won’t have to worry about exporting your data from, say, Salesforce into Google Sheets or vice versa: It’s all there, and it’s all waiting for you to work with. If your totals change on the spreadsheet, it feeds back into Salesforce, and back again.
It’s designed to be productivity-boosting, since you don’t need to copy multiple versions of your data back and forth. Less tedious click-and-drag, more doing.
“Users were more focused on the process than their goals,” says Google Docs Group Product Manager Ritcha Ranjan.
Here’s a video of these integrations in Sheets:
And in Slides:
The next app store
It’s worth noting that it’s very similar to similar moves made by Microsoft around its Office 365 cloud productivity suite, which has been making its own play to attract outside developers.
Tools like Google Apps and Office 365 follow you around from device to device, and bring all your documents with you. That means it doesn’t matter if you’re on Android, iPhone, Mac, Windows, or a refrigatoaster, you’re getting the same work done in the same way on the same files.
It gives them a much wider reach than mere Android, iOS, or Windows on their own. And so, there’s a real opportunity for developers to build on top of Google Apps. And in turn, that means Google Apps gets more useful for customers, pushing for more sales.
Under the auspices of new cloud boss Diane Greene, Google has renewed its push to take over the workplace. This is a big way to help Google Apps, now 10 years old, grow into a new decade.