Massive Google Workspace update dials up the fight for hybrid working supremacy

Google has lifted the lid on a series of updates for its Workspace suite of productivity and collaboration software designed to cater to the needs of the hybrid working era.

Some of the upgrades are small, like the ability to react with emojis during video meetings, but others could have a major impact on the way in which workers collaborate on shared documents, presentations and spreadsheets.

Most significantly, Google says it will integrate Meet directly into Docs, Sheets and Slides in the coming weeks, which will allow Google Workspace users to quickly spin up a meeting when collaborating on a project. Unlike traditional screen-sharing, video feeds will be housed within a dedicated sidebar, positioned alongside the content the team is working on.

Google Workspace for hybrid working

Since the birth of G Suite in 2006, Google has competed directly with Microsoft in the office software space, going up against the famous Microsoft 365 suite, which houses the likes of Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.

One of the defining features of Microsoft’s offering is tight integration between apps and services, extending all the way out to the Windows operating system on which most business computers run. And although Google stole the march on Microsoft when it came to the cloud-based model, individual G Suite apps have historically felt much more isolated.

When Google rebranded its productivity suite as Workspace in 2020, however, the company announced it would make a concerted effort to create a more “deeply integrated user experience”, by improving the level of interoperability between its various productivity apps.

Google Docs

Google Meet will soon be integrated directly into Docs, Slides and Sheets. (Image credit: Google)

The latest round of Google Workspace updates take strides towards achieving this goal, capitalizing on the full breadth of the suite to create functionality that should help workers improve their productivity in a hybrid working setting.

In addition to new synergies with Workspace office software, Google Meet will also receive a new picture-in-picture mode next month, which will allow Chrome users to bring up a floating meeting window that sits on top of other browser tabs.

And from a security perspective, Google is set to launch client-side encryption for Meet calls in May, with optional end-to-end encryption to follow by the end of the year, bringing the service on-par with Teams and Zoom.

To support asynchronous collaboration, meanwhile, Google is preparing a number of updates for its Spaces messaging platform. Most notably, the company is improving the search functionality to help users surface the most relevant conversations and rolling out Slack-like inline message threading, which is apparently a highly requested upgrade.

Google Workspace

(Image credit: Google)

“One of the hopeful signs of a return to normalcy is seeing many of our customers make plans to come back into their offices. And they’re asking for strategies that will make hybrid work a more equitable and productive experience for everyone. We’re also beginning our own transition to hybrid work in early April,” said Google.

“As we gear up for that, it feels like a time of optimism for new ways of working together and the potential for hybrid models to become the sustainable norm. When designed well, a hybrid model gives employees the flexibility to deliver their best from anywhere, while bringing them together thoughtfully for the power of in-person collaboration.”

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Massive Google Workspace update dials up the fight for hybrid working supremacy

Google has lifted the lid on a series of updates for its Workspace suite of productivity and collaboration software designed to cater to the needs of the hybrid working era.

Some of the upgrades are small, like the ability to react with emojis during video meetings, but others could have a major impact on the way in which workers collaborate on shared documents, presentations and spreadsheets.

Most significantly, Google says it will integrate Meet directly into Docs, Sheets and Slides in the coming weeks, which will allow Google Workspace users to quickly spin up a meeting when collaborating on a project. Unlike traditional screen-sharing, video feeds will be housed within a dedicated sidebar, positioned alongside the content the team is working on.

Google Workspace for hybrid working

Since the birth of G Suite in 2006, Google has competed directly with Microsoft in the office software space, going up against the famous Microsoft 365 suite, which houses the likes of Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.

One of the defining features of Microsoft’s offering is tight integration between apps and services, extending all the way out to the Windows operating system on which most business computers run. And although Google stole the march on Microsoft when it came to the cloud-based model, individual G Suite apps have historically felt much more isolated.

When Google rebranded its productivity suite as Workspace in 2020, however, the company announced it would make a concerted effort to create a more “deeply integrated user experience”, by improving the level of interoperability between its various productivity apps.

Google Docs

Google Meet will soon be integrated directly into Docs, Slides and Sheets. (Image credit: Google)

The latest round of Google Workspace updates take strides towards achieving this goal, capitalizing on the full breadth of the suite to create functionality that should help workers improve their productivity in a hybrid working setting.

In addition to new synergies with Workspace office software, Google Meet will also receive a new picture-in-picture mode next month, which will allow Chrome users to bring up a floating meeting window that sits on top of other browser tabs.

And from a security perspective, Google is set to launch client-side encryption for Meet calls in May, with optional end-to-end encryption to follow by the end of the year, bringing the service on-par with Teams and Zoom.

To support asynchronous collaboration, meanwhile, Google is preparing a number of updates for its Spaces messaging platform. Most notably, the company is improving the search functionality to help users surface the most relevant conversations and rolling out Slack-like inline message threading, which is apparently a highly requested upgrade.

Google Workspace

(Image credit: Google)

“One of the hopeful signs of a return to normalcy is seeing many of our customers make plans to come back into their offices. And they’re asking for strategies that will make hybrid work a more equitable and productive experience for everyone. We’re also beginning our own transition to hybrid work in early April,” said Google.

“As we gear up for that, it feels like a time of optimism for new ways of working together and the potential for hybrid models to become the sustainable norm. When designed well, a hybrid model gives employees the flexibility to deliver their best from anywhere, while bringing them together thoughtfully for the power of in-person collaboration.”

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Migrating your data to Google Workspace is about to get a whole lot easier

Getting your data moved over to Google Workspace should soon be a much smoother process thanks to a new release from the company.

Google says the Workspace Migrate tool offers an easier way for admins to assess and plan migration projects, and “confidently migrate their users and large amounts of critical content directly into Google Workspace.”

Previously announced in beta way back in 2019, the tool is now generally available to admins across the world for select Google Workspace Editions.

Google Workspace Migrate

In a blog post announcing the news, Google noted that its new tool should be particularly useful for those admins looking to move a large amount of enterprise data, offering a secure and effective way to migrate information and set up on-premises infrastructure.

This includes the ability to migrate data from a wide range of sources, including Microsoft Exchange (covering Exchange 2010, 2013, 2016, and Microsoft 365), Microsoft SharePoint (including SharePoint 2010, 2013, 2016, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business), Microsoft OneDrive, file shares, and Box migrations.

Google Workspace Migrate tool

(Image credit: Google Workspace)

It will also support legacy G Suite Business and Google Workspace environments, enabling admins to selectively migrate Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and more data between Google Workspace environments. 

Alternatively, the tool will allow admins to migrate all users from one environment to another, or move specific user data (such as organizational units, users, or subsets of data) between Google Workspace environments.

The tool will also allow admins to easily identify project progress and status through frequently updated and detailed logs, as well as being able to quickly scan source environments to help accurately plan for key project milestones and watch points.

Google Workspace Migrate is available now for users on Google Workspace Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Education Standard, Education Plus, and legacy G Suite Business – however not for Google Workspace Essentials or legacy G Suite Basic users just yet.

The news comes soon after Google revealed it would be cutting down on users accessing Google Workspace for free.

The company announced that all G Suite legacy free edition users would soon be shifted over to a paid version of Google Workspace from July 1 in order to ensure they kept access to tools such as Gmail, Meet and Docs.

Google Workplace plans start at $ 6/user/month for its Business Starter option, with Business Standard ($ 12/user/month) and Business Plus ($ 18 /user/month) also on offer, providing an increasing level of services with the amount paid.

Google plans to automatically move free users from May 1 to “an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription”, based on its analysis of the customer's usage and the features it thinks you'll need. The company is also offering businesses who don't want to pay or upgrade the chance to export their data at no extra cost.

Via 9to5Google

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Google is closing one of its least-loved Workspace apps

It's no secret that Google has an interesting relationship with creating social media and messaging services – often with far less success than its search engines and, mobile operating systems. 

Add to the body of evidence the demise of Google Currents, introduced in 2019 as replacement for Google+ as part of the G Suite services, which the company has now announced is coming to an end. 

Instead, Google says enterprise customers should use Spaces, which it introduced in 2021 as part of Google Workspace, the replacement for G Suite for Enterprise.  

Here today, gone tomorrow

“Since launching Spaces, many customers have told us that they appreciate the tight integration with Google Workspace products, including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and Meet, and the seamless collaboration experience,” says Google. As such, starting in 2023, Currents will be found down and its services moved over to Spaces. 

Anyone impacted – which is surely a fairly small community – will be fully supported by Google in the transition, with Spaces offering many of the same tools as Currents but with tighter integration into other Google apps. 

“Upgrading Google Currents to Spaces removes a separate, siloed destination for users, and provides organizations with a modern, enterprise-grade experience that reflects how the world is working today,” the company added.

“Spaces provide a central place for teams to engage in topic-based discussions, share knowledge and ideas, move projects forward, and build communities and team culture.” 

Responding to feedback is essential to succeed in the enterprise software space, where IT admins and end-users are the key consistency that must be heard. Creating frictions, or unnecessary faff, will likely spell the end of the product. 

With Workspace, Google has been challenging in a very crowded field. Seemingly all major companies offer some kind of SaaS tools for businesses, including Meta (formerly Facebook), which offers Workplace and runs its own business on it.

The intense competition means that companies need to move fast and recognise when something isn't working, which Google appears to have done here. 

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There’s an all-new free version of Google Workspace for work

Workers looking to experience a host of the most popular Google Workspace software can now try for free thanks to a new offering from the company.

The new Google Workspace Essentials plan provides access to the likes of Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides and more as the company looks to offer its online collaboration tools to more businesses than ever before.

What's more, you don't even need a Gmail account to sign up – and it's absolutely free.

Free Google Workspace

“We’re rolling out a new version designed to help people bring the apps they know and love to use in their personal lives to their work life,” Kelly Waldher, Vice President of Marketing, Google Workspace, wrote in a blog post.

“The new Google Workspace Essentials Starter Edition is a no-cost solution for business users looking to enhance teamwork and unlock innovation with secure-by-design collaboration. With Essentials Starter, we’re making it easy for employees to choose their own productivity tools and bring modern collaboration to work.”

There are some caveats to the plan, as users will only get 15GB of cloud storage, down from the usual 30GB available with the basic Google Workspace Business Starter plan, which typically costs $ 6/user/month.

There's also obviously no access to Gmail either, but users will be able to hold Google Meet video conferences of up to 100 people for up to an hour, as well as access to Spaces, Google Chat, Sheets, Slides and Docs.

The news comes as something of a surprise, given Google had recently said it would be cutting down on users accessing Google Workspace for free.

The company announced that all G Suite legacy free edition users would soon be shifted over to a paid version of Google Workspace from July 1 in order to ensure they kept access to tools such as Gmail, Meet and Docs.

This had upset users who may have recently signed up for the software, particularly non-business users facing having to pay for the first time, with Google saying that anyone not signed up to a paid subscription by the July deadline faced being locked out.

Google Workplace plans start at $ 6/user/month for its Business Starter option, with Business Standard ($ 12/user/month) and Business Plus ($ 18 /user/month) also on offer, providing an increasing level of services with the amount paid.

Google plans to automatically upgrade free users from May 1 to “an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription”, based on its analysis of the customer's usage and the features it thinks you'll need. The company is also offering businesses who don't want to pay or upgrade the chance to export their data at no extra cost.

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It’ll soon be easier to track down all your lost Google Workspace docs

Tracking down that elusive Google Docs or Sheets file could soon get a lot simpler thanks to a new search upgrade.

The company has revealed it is adding a new setting to its search history tool specifically designed to find files created in its Google Workspace office software suite.

The new addition will hopefully be able to track down and display those hard-to-find files directly in your search history, removing a common headache for workers everywhere.

Google My Activity

The change is coming to the Google  – My Activity page, which contains all the details of your recent searches across both the web and Google's own apps, such as YouTube.

Going forward, search data from Workspace apps will be contained in a new setting, which will allow users to see suggestions from their own search history.

Past searches can be rerun if necessary, and will cover the likes of Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar, and Currents, along with standalone services such as Google Cloud and Google Sites.

Google says it doesn't utilize any of this data for targeted advertising, and deletes all search history data after 18 months (although this can be reset to delete at 3, 18 or 36 months) and users can amend, expand or restrict the amount of data collected on them at any time.

The new setting will begin rolling out on March 29, and will be set to on by default. Users can disable it by heading to My Activity page > Other Google activity > Google Workspace search history.

The news comes shortly after Google unveiled a new look for Gmail that aims to combine several of the most popular Workspace apps in one window.

The approach looks to provide users with a one-stop shop for all their communication needs – whether via email, video conferencing, or just good old-fashioned instant messaging – without them having to open up extra tabs or windows.

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Via 9to5Google

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Google could give free G Suite users a way out of paying for Workspace

G Suite users upset at Google's recent move to make them pay for their office software could be in luck thanks to a potential loophole.

The company recently announced that all G Suite legacy free edition users would been shifted over to a paid version of Google Workspace in order to keep access to tools such as Gmail, Meet and Docs.

This had upset users who may have recently signed up for the software, particularly non-business users facing having to pay for the first time – but help could be at hand.

Free G Suite

Google had said the G Suite legacy free edition itself will no longer be available from July 1, 2022, with any users found not to have started paying after 60 days being locked out.

But a loophole spotted by Ars Technica writer Ron Amadeo means that non-business users could potentially get around the change. The site spotted that a section on the FAQ for the transition included a section for users that “use G Suite legacy free edition for personal use and don’t want to upgrade to a Google Workspace subscription.”

This includes users who may have signed up to use the initial build of Workspace, known as Google Apps, when it was launched in 2006, but with a non-gmail.com email address. It may also include users who provided family or friends with Google accounts that have certain services still linked, but not the entire Workspace suite of tools.

“We understand some customers may not use their G Suite legacy free edition for business and may be interested in other options,” the company noted. 

Such non-business users with 10 or fewer users in their group are instructed to log into their administrator account to provide more information, meaning they may be able to continue with their current situation at least a little while longer.

Google had planned to automatically upgrade free users from May 1 to “an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription” based on its analysis of the customer's usage and the features it thinks you'll need.

Google Workplace plans start at $ 6/user/month for its Business Starter option, with Business Standard ($ 12/user/month) and Business Plus ($ 18 /user/month) also on offer, providing an increasing level of services with the amount paid.

Google is offering a discount for twelve months, and won't start charging subscription fees until July 1, 2022. The company is also offering businesses who don't want to pay or upgrade the chance to export their data at no extra cost.

Google rebranded G Suite as Workspace back in October 2020 in a bid to bring more structure to its myriad of apps and services.

Initially described as “the future of work”, the new platform looked to improve the interoperability of its various productivity services, blurring the lines between each product for a more fluid feel.

Via 9to5Google

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Bad news – you’ll have to start paying for Google Workspace this year

Google is looking to move users of its office software products over to paid subscriptions, meaning your business will soon have to pay for the likes of Gmail, Docs, and Sheets or lose access.

From May 1 2022, G Suite legacy free edition users will need to switch to a paid Google Workspace subscription in order to keep using the software.

Google says that the G Suite legacy free edition itself will no longer be available from July 1, 2022, with any users found not to have started paying after 60 days being locked out.

Google Workspace subscription

“To maintain your services and accounts…upgrade by May 1, 2022,” a help page on the Google Support site noted. “Upgrading to Google Workspace takes just a few steps with no disruption to your users. After you upgrade you can use your new subscription at no cost until at least July 1, 2022.”

In a seperate email to admins seen by TechRadar Pro, the company said from May 1, it plans to automatically upgrade free users to “an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription” based on its analysis of the customer's usage and the features it thinks you'll need.

Google Workplace plans start at $ 6/user/month for its Business Starter option, with Business Standard ($ 12/user/month), and Business Plus $ 18 /user/month also on offer, providing an increasing level of services with the amount paid.

Google is offering a discount for 12 months, and won't start charging subscription fees until July 1, 2022. The company is also offering businesses who don't want to pay or upgrade the chance to export their data at no extra cost.

Google rebranded G Suite as Workspace back in October 2020 in a bid to bring more structure to its myriad of apps and services.

Initially described as “the future of work”, the new platform looked to improve the interoperability of its various productivity services, blurring the lines between each product for a more fluid feel.

The change also coincided with a major shift in the way staff work and collaborate with each other due to the new hybrid working way of life helped by the pandemic.

“This is the end of the ‘office’ as we know it. From here on out, teams need to thrive without meeting in person, protect their time to focus on the most impactful work, and build human connection in new ways,” Google said at the time.

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