As Google rolls out a hybrid work policy in its own business, Google Workspace users will soon be able to connect and collaborate with a raft of new features for Spaces, Meet and Voice.
Google Workspace is introducing more features to boost collaboration and communication for remote and hybrid workers.
Workspace is Google’s productivity suite and includes tools such as Gmail, Sheets, Tasks and Docs. It replaced G Suite in October 2020 and the tech giant has made several updates since then to serve users working remotely or in hybrid settings.
New features announced today (31 March) include in-meeting emoticon reactions, new integrations and automatic noise cancellation privacy tools for Google Meet.
The company is also rolling out Google Voice to more users and adding to Google Spaces, which was launched last September to allow colleagues to share projects and collaborate virtually.
Google is introducing inline threading to Spaces following requests from its enterprise customers. The feature will enable members of a space to respond to specific comments and create side conversations. Every teammate can easily browse a space and catch up on topics that are relevant to them, at a time that works for their schedule.
Last week, Google also enabled users to invite others to join a Space via a shared link. Later in the year, it will let users search and join Spaces across an organisation. Team size limits for Spaces will also be increased to 8,000 initially and later to 25,000 to support teams of all sizes.
As it unveiled Spaces last September, Google said that Meet users would soon be able to avail of a ‘companion mode’ to let people join meetings from their personal devices while leveraging in-room audio and video. The company has also begun rolling out automatic noise cancellation to remove background noise.
Google is now making improvements to its livestream experience. Meet users can now host meetings of up to 500 active attendees with the ability to livestream to audiences of up to 100,000 across trusted Workspace domains. Later in the year, meeting hosts will be able to stream meetings directly to YouTube.
To enable interaction between virtual Meet attendees and their colleagues working in an office, the latter group will be able to add their own personal video tile from companion mode and their laptop camera, making it easier for other attendees to see their expressions and gestures.
From next month, Meet users will be able to see their audiences while presenting on the platform as Google is bringing a picture-in-picture feature to Meet running on Chrome browsers. It will be possible for presenters to see up to four video tiles of meeting attendees in a floating window on top of other applications as they share content.
In May, Google will roll out optional client-side encryption in Google Meet. The feature, which is currently in beta, will give users direct control of encryption keys and the identity provider used to access those keys. Optional end-to-end encryption for all meetings will be introduced later this year.
Finally, Google Workspace is bringing new features to its Google Voice telephone service.
In a bid to help European customers adopt Google Voice, the company recently said that Google Voice calls between many European numbers are now included in licenses and no longer subject to international and domestic rates.
Later this year, it will enable customers with operations outside its current coverage areas to move holistically to Google Voice, and admins will be able to manage carrier-provided numbers alongside Google-provisioned numbers.
The tech company is also set to roll out on-demand call recording to Google Voice Standard and Premier subscribers next month. Premier subscribers will have the additional benefit of automated call recordings, which the company said is a top request from customers in regulated industries.
These latest additions to the Google Workspace suite come shortly after Google announced details of its own hybrid work plans, which will see most workers begin to come into the office at least three days per week from 4 April.
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