Google has made a lot of headway with Google Apps in 2008. This is particularly true of its Gmail Web mail application, which I've been positioning as Google's unified communications hub because of the addition of voice and video chat, SMS text chat and other features that flesh out the app.
But let's not overlook other enhancements that help integrate the Google Apps experience, such as this Docs gadget to let users view their Google Calendar schedule and see recently accessed Google Docs that let you search your documents from within Gmail.
Google's Desktop team has created a new Google Docs Gadget for Google Desktop to let users search and open their Google documents right from their desktop, along with a tool for drag-and-drop uploading documents to convert them to Google Docs. The gadget works with Windows and Linux versions of Google Desktop Gadgets, as well as Google Apps work accounts. No word on a Mac version from Google yet.
"There are times when we just need to bring up the same few documents continually throughout the day. Some examples are a data entry spreadsheet, a technical manual, or that steamy romance novel you've been secretly penning during work hours. You can instead bring up the gadget and, in an instant, search and open your Google documents (hint: pressing the shift key twice brings up all your hidden Desktop gadgets)."
The drag-and-drop uploading feature to convert file to Google Docs is a great touch because it will let power users upload a bunch of files quickly by dragging and dropping instead of converting them one at a time, which is basically manual labor in Google's increasingly gadget-flavored Web services environment.
And that it the crux of what such tools are about. The proliferation of Google gadgets for its Apps make work tasks so much easier.
No one who has tried drag-and-drop tools has found them to be difficult. They make work incredibly efficient because users don't have to manually type commands. They just point click, hold down the mouse button, drag the files to where they want them, and release the button.
I'd say gadgetization (or widgetization if you prefer) is the future of Web apps, but Google is already doing a lot of it in Apps, and several companies I've stumbled upon at Web 2.0 shows are doing similar tricks with AJAX.
Expect more of such gadgetization in 2009. This will help Web apps makers retain users and snag new converts.