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Summary:

Google has launched a new gadget (available in Google Calendar Labs) called Smart Rescheduler for its Google Calendar service. Once installed, if you want to reschedule a meeting, all you have to do is select an event and let Google find new time.

I’m one of those people who has a tough time trying to schedule meetings. What’s worse is that times change, mostly because of the ever-shifting deadlines that come with blogging. That’s one of the main reasons my calendar constantly descends into chaos. I turned to professional help, but if you are both like me and are a Google Calendar user, scheduling help could now be as simple as turning on a feature inside Google Calendar.

The new gadget, available in Google Calendar Labs, is called Smart Rescheduler. And it is dead simple. Once turned on, you can select an event and click “Find a new time” and the machine does the rest, offering up multiple options for folks to chose from.

Cyrus Mistery, Product Manager for Google Calendar told GigaOM that there are over 2 million businesses using Google Apps and many of them are large companies with many executives. “It becomes very hard to schedule meetings,” he said. While it is easy to find the next open spot or as Mistery called it, “a trivial computer science problem”, the harder problems emerge when say a meeting needs to happen before end of the week, without open slots and one person is in a remote location.

“That’s a search type problem and so we looked at our search algorithms and said yes, we can adapt these,”Mistery said. He pointed out that this can be used by consumers who are trying to schedule say dinner parties.

Cyrus Mistery, Product Manager for Google Calendar told GigaOM that there are over 2 million businesses using Google Apps and many of them are large companies with many executives. “It becomes very hard to schedule meetings,” he said. While it is easy to find the next open spot or as Mistery called it, “a trivial computer science problem”, the harder problems emerge when say a meeting needs to happen before end of the week, without open slots and one person is in a remote location.
David Marmaros, creator of the gadget, writes on the Gmail Blog:

[W]e decided to apply some of Google’s search experience to the problem of scheduling. We experimented with using ranking algorithms to return the most relevant meeting times based on specified criteria like attendees, schedule complexity, conference rooms, and time zones. Just like Google search ranks the web, our scheduling search algorithm returns a ranked set of the best candidate dates and times. [...] You’ll see ranked list of possible times for your meeting. By investigating the calendars others have shared with you, Google Calendar can make some educated guesses about how easy it might be to reschedule a conflicting meeting and even find you a replacement conference room nearby. This process is 100% automated [...]

I just tried it out, rescheduled a meeting, and yes: it works as advertised. For once, I am not going to complain about a Google product. :-)

Additional reporting by Liz Gannes.

  1. So again, what are the exact rules that would decide this?
    Many office products have this feature, so its not exactly new. But most of them allow you to choose the next possible time based on, say all the participant’s availability. With Google Calendar though, I dont know.

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  2. Not sure what Google knows about the attendees to do anything other than check availability – like outlook has done for over 10 years.

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    1. Joe and iptiam

      Google has outlined how they do it briefly on the website and they told us how they were thinking about this. My view is that they wouldn’t tell us precisely how they are getting it done. I am sure that would qualify as their secret sauce.

      I am just trying it and I am seriously impressed. Since we use Google Apps, at least for our company this is a welcome addition. Outlook/Exchange might do this, but I am not aware of it because I don’t use Microsoft platforms as part of my daily work flow.

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  3. Just think it’s strange, many of the tech press sites now use GoogleApps. We’re getting post after post about pretty basic functionality – just because they’re using it as part of their job.
    Isn’t it a reporter’s job to provide a balanced view of the landscape in terms of functionality?

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  4. Om,

    I’ve used TimeBridge in the past. I liked some of what it does, namely its core functionality of finding times that work for everyone, but was turned off by how pushy it is about trying to get people to share their full schedules. It bace akward with clients.

    How would you compare the two?

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    1. JOshua

      I used Timebridge and had the same issues. I backed away mostly because I felt that it wasn’t as seamless in my workflow. I think the Google solution might not be perfect just yet, my view is that it is free and part of the work flow and might be worth using, despite being rough around the edges. I said great because it actually has no latency when it comes to usage and adoption.

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      1. Joshua & Om — we’ve got a lot of feedback since you tried the product. We adjusted a lot and I think you will be pleased with how it works now. Also introduced the new http://meetwith.me for quick & easy 1:1 scheduling.

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  5. Am I the only person seeing the following content repeated: “Cyrus Mistery, Product Manager for Google Calendar told GigaOM … schedule say dinner parties.” ?

    Liz and Om typed up the same lines? ;-)

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    1. AS

      Thanks for that catch. Appreciated and removed the duplicate lines.

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