If you entrust important information to Google, whether through a Gmail account, Google Docs or other application, you will soon be able to add an extra layer of security to prevent hacker attacks.
Using the same type of 2-step verification that many of us are familiar with through online banking, you will have to authorize access to your account whenever you use a new browser. With 2-step verification enabled, after you enter your password, the system will send you a verification code through your phone, either as a voice call or an SMS message. You enter that code into Google and, if you choose, tell the system not to require verification for the next 30 days. This way, even if someone were to figure out your password, they'd also need access to your phone to get into your account.
The need to re-enter a verification code every 30 days is one speed bump. Another comes if you access your Google account from an application other than a browser – your desktop email software, for example. In that case, you'll have to create a separate application-specific password for each program you use.
If you have sensitive data in your Google cloud and want to err on the side of caution, the extra step probably makes sense. If you're using Gmail as a secondary account, the added hassle is probably not necessary, and you can just stick with the original password system.
The 2-step verification process is being rolled out over the next few days. You'll find the details in the Google help center.