Today, Google is making some modifications to its Workspace suite of apps and services, including making them available to anybody with a Google account. Google claims that its Workspace apps have over three billion users, however, it’s a safe guess that Gmail accounts for a sizable portion of it.
For Gmail, Docs, and Chat, many individuals will soon have the opportunity to migrate to Google’s more modern system. All of them can be readily combined into a single tab, for as by moving chats to the left to expose a shared spreadsheet. It also has something to do with the company’s new “smart canvas” initiative, which aims to use “smart chips” to connect its numerous programs.
To get started, Google has made the option to turn on Google Chat available to all users. It’s a new feature in Gmail.
With the move, everyone should now be able to use Google Chat messaging, which includes direct messages and chat rooms. To go along with the announcement, Google is also launching a new terminology. The “evolution of Rooms in Google Chat to Spaces” is being announced.
Space is fundamentally the same as a chat room, but Google wishes to distinguish them as their own top-level communication option alongside Gmail, Chat, and Meet. Improved message threading, additional emoji replies, user roles, moderation tools, and “discoverable” places are among the new features added by Google. In that sense, Spaces appears to be aiming to be a Slack competitor, as well as a competitor for public Discord groups and, possibly, as an alternative to email groups.
It’s a little perplexing, but that’s to be expected from Google’s message strategy.
According to Sanaz Ahari, senior director of product, the key notion is that users will be able to transition between “modalities” of communication more simple. According to Ahari, the goal is to “maintain the context.” “If you start with an email and later want to upgrade to greater real-time conversation amongst a group — or even for a project — you can do so while maintaining the context. After that, you can all upgrade to a meeting at the same time.”
This summer, Google promises to “deliver a simplified and flexible user interface” for Spaces.
These aren’t the only announcements tucked away in today’s Workspace roundup. The firm is introducing a new $9.99 per month tier called “Google Workspace Individual,” which allows users access to more Workspace products without forcing them to set up their own domain or custom email address.
When Workspace users accept a meeting invitation, they can choose whether to join remotely or in the scheduled meeting room. Companion Mode, which encourages participants in the meeting room to turn on their webcams so that remote workers don’t feel as left out, will be available in September on desktop and “soon” on mobile, according to Google.
In September, Google will finally release a progressive web app for Google Workspace, according to the company. It might, in principle, make it much easier for Gmail users to have their email and other Google apps feel more like desktop apps rather than browser tabs. Various Electron apps and Single Site Browser windows make this possible currently, although it takes more effort than it should.
Finally, Google is introducing enterprise solutions, which will be crucial if it wants to compete with larger businesses. Corporations will be able to encrypt data on their own client-side, establish extra “trust rules” for different Drive files to ease access and permissions, and label files based on their sensitivity.
Over the last few months, Google Workspace has been rapidly updated and iterated, possibly indicating that the business truly intends to compete with Microsoft. Google’s approach entails more than just upgrading its products; it also entails tighter integration. Gmail users will soon be bombarded with more prompts than ever to integrate their accounts with Google’s other Workspace products — and some will undoubtedly seek out methods to avoid it all. Adding Chat, Meet, and Rooms (soon to be Spaces) buttons to the bottom of the world’s most popular email software are guaranteed to increase usage – and possibly raise some antitrust concerns.
The biggest unknown is whether Google will be able to explain the transition to Chat, why it’s worthwhile, and what this new Spaces thing is all about. Now that Workspace will be available to over three billion average people, the corporation will have to work extra hard to connect coherently with them all.