Google opens Workspace to all and announces its Spaces lounge
The Workspace office suite has been available for a few days to anyone with a Gmail account. On the other hand, Google is also embarking on the redesign of its instant messaging Hangouts, replaced by Google Chat and its discussion groups. Finally, Rooms, similar to Slack, will be renamed Spaces.
On June 14, Google announced changes to its Workspace office suite (formerly known as G Suite) and introduced a service called Spaces. Starting now, Workspace becomes available to all users with a Gmail account – and adds an individual paid Workspace account. Meanwhile, Spaces, another collaborative environment, will join the “smart canvas” concept announced by Google last month. Monday’s announcements are just another step in delivering a more cohesive package with its office apps, Chat, Docs and Sheets. Last October, Google announced that it was changing the name of G Suite to Workspace and embarking on cross-application collaboration. The provider had started the process with its paid offers, leaving the transition to consumer offers for later. Today, that moment has arrived.
Now consumers with a Gmail account can try out this Workspace collaboration experience. This allows consumers who open a Google Docs document in Google Chat for Gmail, for example, to share it with others who can then collaboratively edit it. To enable the latter feature, you need to enable the Google Chat feature in Gmail. (Yes, Google Chat in Gmail is different from Google Chat.) To enable the unified experience, follow these steps.
1. On your computer, open Gmail.
2. At the top right, click the Settings button and then click Show all settings.
3. At the top, click Chat and Meet.
4. Next to ‘Chat’, to enable or disable chat in Gmail, select Google Chat or Off.
5. Click Save Changes.
Google annonce Workspace Spaces
As noted above, Google Chat and Chat in Gmail are two different things – and it turns out that difference is bigger than you might imagine. In fact, the firm must even explain it clearly in a support document. “You get the same functionality in Chat and Chat in Gmail, but the integrated Gmail experience provides a central place to communicate with friends, family, or co-workers between emails,” Google explains. Currently, Google Chat offers “Rooms”, which allow Chat users to chat in small groups. This summer, Google will rebrand Rooms to Spaces — “a place for organizing people, topics, and projects in Google Workspace,” the California-based company explains. “Over the summer, we’ll evolve Rooms into Spaces and launch a simplified, flexible user interface that will help teams and individuals stay on top of everything that matters.”
Hangouts becomes Google Chat, available both in the Gmail application and in the Google Chat application, which is distinct from the email interface. (Credit: Google)
You might think Spaces would be where Google would evolve its “smart canvas” concept, and allow it to flourish. Smart Canvas includes what Google calls “smart bullets,” or links to users and files that can be referenced and linked. But a Google representative said the Spaces announcement was “separate” from Smart Canvas, leaving the question of how different the user experience in Spaces will be from the rest of Google’s vision. Spaces, according to an image posted by Google, looks a lot like what we already know, namely Microsoft Teams or Slack, with messages and replies, reactions, and more. What we don’t know, of course, is whether this UI will eventually be offered to mainstream users as well. In fact, Google has only sketched out its collaborative future in broad outline. For now, it all depends – oddly enough, in our opinion – on which version of Google Chat you prefer.
A Workspace shaped for companies
Google is also announcing a specialized Workspace account for sole proprietorships, aimed at freelancers or contract workers. According to Google, this account “offers premium features including smart booking services, professional video meetings and personalized email marketing, and more.” Google says no more, although users can sign up to receive more information about the plan. Individual subscription to Google Workspace will be $9.99/month, with an introductory monthly price of $7.99, a Google representative said via email.