Google today announced that it is making Workspace, the service formerly known as G Suite (and with a number of new features), available to everyone, including consumers with free Google Accounts. The core philosophy of Workspace is to enable deeper collaboration between users. You can think of it as the same Google productivity apps you already know (Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, Chat, etc.), but with a new wrapper around and more in-depth integrations between the different ones. applications.
For individual users who want more from their workspace, there will also be a new paid offer, although Google isn’t saying how much you’ll need to pay yet. With this, users will have access to “premium capabilities, including smart booking services, professional video meetings and personalized email marketing, and much more. We’ll probably hear more about it later this year. This new paid offer will be available “soon” in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil and Japan.
Consumers will need to upgrade from the classic Hangouts experience (RIP) to the new Google Chat to enable it – and with this update, all users will now also have access to the new Google Chat. Until now, only paid G Suite / Workspace users had access to this new Workspace user experience.
“Collaboration doesn’t stop at the workplace – our products have been optimized for broad participation, sharing and support from the start,” said Javier Soltero, vice president and general manager of Google Workspace. “Our goal is to provide consumers, workers, educators and students with a fair approach to collaboration, while providing flexibility that allows these different subsets of users to take their own approach to communication and collaboration. “
Once enabled, users will experience some UI changes. The left rail, for example, will look a bit like the bottom bar in Gmail on iOS and Android now, with the ability to switch between Mail, Chat, Meet, and Spaces (which – yes – I’m not sure anyone really understands. this one, but more on that later). The right rail will continue to display various plugins and shortcuts to features like Google Calendar, Tasks, and Keep.
A lot of people – especially those who just want Gmail to be Gmail and don’t care about all that collaboration stuff in their privacy – will hate this. But at least for now, you can still keep the old experience by not switching from Hangouts to the new Google Chat. But for Google, this clearly shows how far Workspace has come.
“In October of last year, we announced some very important updates to our communications and collaboration product line and our business, starting with the new brand and identity that we have chosen around Google. Workspace, meant to represent what we think is the future direction and a real opportunity around our product – less of being a suite of individual products and more of being an integrated set of experiences that represent the future of work ” , Soltero explained during a press briefing ahead of today’s announcement.
And then there are the “Spaces”. Until now, Google Workspace had a tool called “Rooms”. The rooms are now spaces. I’m not sure why, but Google says it’s “to evolve the Rooms experience in Google Chat into a space dedicated to the organization of people, subjects and projects in Google Workspace. ”
As far as I know, these are Slack-like channels where teams can not only have conversations on a given topic, but also organize relevant files and upcoming tasks, all with a built-in Google Meet experience and direct access. to work on their files. That’s great, but I’m not sure why Google felt the need to change the name. Maybe that just doesn’t want you to confuse Slack Rooms with Google Rooms. And it’s called Google Workspace, after all, not Workroom.
New features for rooms / spaces include online discussion thread, presence indicators, personalized statuses, expressive reactions and collapsible view, according to Google.
Both free and paid users will have access to these new spaces once they launch later this year.
But wait, there is more. Much more. Google is also introducing a number of new features to Workspace today. Google Meet, for example, gets a companion mode intended to promote “fairness of collaboration in a hybrid world”. The idea here is to give meeting participants who are in a physical meeting room and interacting with remote participants a companion experience to use features like screen sharing, polls, meeting chat, raising a hand, and live Q&A captions on their personal devices. Each participant using companion mode will also get their own video thumbnail. This feature will be available in September.
Also new is an RSVP option that will allow you to choose whether you will participate remotely, in a meeting room (or not at all), as well as new moderation controls to allow hosts to prevent the use of chat in a meeting and mute and reactivate individual participants.
On the security front, Google also announced today that it will allow users to bring their own encryption keys. Currently Google encrypts your data, but it manages the key for you. To enhance your security, you may want to bring your own keys to the service. Google has therefore now partnered with providers such as Flowcrypt, Futurex, Thales and Virtru to enable this.
“With client-side encryption, customer data is indecipherable for Google, while users can continue to take advantage of native Google web collaboration, access content on mobile devices and share encrypted files externally, ”writes Karthik Lakshminarayanan, chief product officer for Google and Erika Trautman in today’s announcement.
Google is also introducing trust rules for Drive to allow admins to control how files can be shared within an organization and externally. And to protect you against real phishing threats (not the bogus threats your internal security organization sends out every few weeks or so), Google now also allows admins to activate the same phishing protections it already offers today. ‘hui to content within an organization to help protect your data from insider threats.