Following in its Gmail Labs footsteps, Google has launched a project to let organizations using Google Apps try experimental features.
But where any Gmail user can try the Gmail Labs options, Labs for Google Apps is inherently a group activity. An organization's Google Apps account administrator can enable the collaborative applications so people in the group can use them.
Also unlike Gmail Labs, these are standalone applications, not gadgets that augment existing Google Apps services the way panels such as calendars or document lists next to the Gmail application do.
Google has supplied the first three applications on its Solutions Marketplace site, but at some point plans to let outside programmers add their own. The Labs for Google Apps applications themselves are running on the Google App Engine, a general-purpose foundation for Web applications, Google said.
One of the opening Labs applications is Google Moderator, which lets people post questions publicly and vote on the ones they'd like answered. Google hosts a Google Moderator site, but the Labs for Google Apps version is private to the group in question.
Another is a code review application that can be used to get comments on software as it's developed. The third is Google Short Links, which lets people type in shortcut URLs that Google expands to longer ones. The service works for Web addresses that are part of the Internet domain Google helps to run through the Google Apps service.
Google Apps offers organizations a subscription program that includes support for several online tools: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk for chatting, Google Sites for private Web sites, and Google Docs for spreadsheets, word processing, and presentations.