This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve made it easier to see recent interactions you’ve had with people in Gmail, added a set of customization options to Google Calendar and streamlined the discussions feature in Google documents. We also welcomed tens of thousands of new customers, including our largest governmental customer to date.

Gmail’s new people widget
The new people widget in Gmail shows up alongside email conversations and conveniently displays the contact information you have for people included on the message. When you click on someone in the widget, we’ll automatically show you a snapshot of the recent interactions you’ve had together, including email messages, calendar appointments and shared documents.

Calendar appointment slots
You asked and we listened: as of Monday, Google Calendar lets you set up blocks of appointment slots that colleagues, students and customers can reserve online. For example, professors can let students book time during office hours, and accountants can allow clients to make consultation appointments. It’s easy to embed an interactive calendar of your availability on any web page, so others can view and reserve your open appointments.

Default meeting lengths and more print options in Google Calendar
Last week, Google Calendar got two new customization options: adjustable default meeting lengths and new print options. If your typical meeting is longer or shorter than the default 30 minute appointment, you can tailor the default length once and spend less time changing the details of each meeting you create. If you prefer to have a paper printout of your agenda, Calendar now lets you print custom date ranges in addition to the standard day, week and month views.

Improvements to discussions in Google documents
A few months ago we introduced discussions in Google documents, and on Wednesday we improved the way you can converse with collaborators in a document. The discussion pane now shows the snippet of text being discussed, which adds context to each conversation, and you can view document statistics like how many people have recently viewed your document. We also made long discussions more compact by collapsing extended conversations and streamlined the format of email notifications for discussions.

Who’s gone Google?
Businesses and other organizations continue to migrate from legacy communication and collaboration technologies to Google Apps. Summer may be upon us, but is preparing to help more people “ski for less” next winter by streamlining their operations with Google Apps. LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels—with 7,000 employees and 20 hotel and resort properties—is moving to Google Apps to help their staff provide a more enjoyable guest experience. Among other uses, LXR’s human resources team is using video chat to conduct interviews instead of flying remote candidates to Florida.

This week we also gathered in Washington, D.C. with more than 100 government IT leaders to explore how state, local and federal agencies can increase productivity and conserve taxpayer dollars with our cloud-based solutions. As part of the agenda, we took some time to celebrate dozens of agencies that have selected Google Apps in the last few months, including the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). With more than 25,000 employees, contractors and associates who will use Google Apps for email, document collaboration, video chat and more, it’s the largest government agency to move to Google Apps yet.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.