UPDATED 21:04 EDT / MARCH 29 2020

APPS

Coronavirus pandemic drives huge demand for Google Classroom app

Google Classroom, a service that offers online learning tools via the web and an app, surged in popularity in March as schools and universities have closed in reponse to the coronavirus pandemic.

The service, which launched in 2014 followed by the app in 2015, combines Google Drive, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides along with Gmail and Google Calendar to allow teachers to provide lessons for students. The service includes support for assignments and similar coursework as well as the ability to grade assignments.

The Google Classroom app has always had users, but until this month had never been in the top 100 apps before. According to app tracking service App Annie, the app has now surpassed 50 million downloads and was in the top five apps in the U.S. last week. The app is also popular around the world, with a huge spike in downloads in countries such as Indonesia, Mexico, Canada, Finland, Italy and Poland.

Students are not big fans of the service. The Telegraph reported that schoolchildren are bombarding the app with one-star reviews in the hope it will get taken down and they will no longer have to attend classes remotely. Reviews for both the iOS and Android versions of the app are said to have included requests to “let us enjoy our corona break.”

Workplace collaboration apps are also surging. Microsoft Corp.’s Team app added 12 million new users in a week along with 7,000 new customers, while rival Slack Inc. has also seen increasing levels of demand.

Online connection tools now dominate app lists, with Zoom Video Communications Inc.’s video conferencing app topping the free app download charts. Other popular communication apps in the top 10 include WhatsApp in sixth place, Hangouts Meet in seventh, Facebook Inc.’s Messenger in eighth and Microsoft Teams in ninth.

Image: Google Classroom

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