Google has released a new service designed to help users check the status or availability of its online applications. The Status Dashboard shows the service availability for Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Video for business.

The search giant announced the service late Wednesday in a blog post, just a day after its Gmail e-mail service suffered an outage that lasted about two and a half hours.

"We heard your feedback around the need for better communication when issues like yesterday's Gmail outage occur," Tessa Prescott, of the Google Apps Sales Team, said in the company's enterprise blog.

While noting the Apps Status Dashboard is particularly useful for business users, Prescott said it can also be a handy service for consumers who use Gmail and other Google Apps as a way to quickly check service availability.

"Administrators of Google Apps for their businesses, schools and organizations can also view the performance of the administrative control panel," she added.

Google promises its business customers 99.9 percent uptime per month for the Apps Suite, and has already said it will be issuing credits in light of Tuesday's Gmail outage.

Google has in recent months taken steps to mitigate the impact of downtime in its hosted applications. For instance, the company recently added offline access features to Gmail so that when online access isn't available, users can at least continue to use the application and view e-mails locally.

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