Google has used its search ranking algorithms to create a gadget for Google Calendar that helps busy users track and reschedule meetings.
When any of the 25 million Google Apps users installs the Smart Rescheduler gadget from Google Calendar Labs, he or she can select the event to reschedule and click the "Find a New Time" link in the gadget:
The schedule search algorithm will retrieve a set of the best dates and times for users, using ranked criteria such as attendees, schedule complexity, conference rooms and time zones. Note the ranked list of possible times for the meeting:
Smart Rescheduler does this by scrutinizing everyone's calendars and guessing how easy it might be to reschedule a conflicting meeting, Cyrus Mistry, a product manager on Google Calendar, told me.
Users can refine the results by marking people as optional, changing the meeting duration, ignoring certain conflicts or specifying the earliest and latest times. Moreover, the tool will also automatically grab alternate conference rooms if needed. Mistry added:
"It will not only look for the closest conference room, but it will look for a conference room that is at least as large as the previous one. It does all of these things that take up a ton of time from administrative assistants."
This is a nice tool that should provide time management value beyond what existing scheduling assistant tools provide these days.
Tools from TimeBridge and Liaise are nice, but they don't have the power of Google's search algorithms behind them. Mistry said:
"They all do a good job of finding an available slot for a lot of people, but they won't handle a situation when I've got 23 executives I have to schedule a meeting for and their schedules are all conflicting for the next six months. None of them are able to handle the constraint problem."
Thanks to Google search, Smart Rescheduler looks at every aspect of every single meeting happening at any given time, Mistry said.
Using search for this project is smart because Mistry and his colleagues were able to leverage existing search algorithms at the company.
But this is big news for Google Calendar, which has been regularly dinged for lacking some of the functionality of Microsoft Outlook Calendar and other calendaring tools on the market.
These are the sort of features that will make business users take Google Apps more seriously into consideration. Read what others are saying on Techmeme here.