Google updates Workspace with more features for hybrid work

The tech giant also announced an expanded Google Meet hardware portfolio and interoperability with other conference room solutions, including Cisco Webex hardware.

Google on Wednesday announced a series of updates to Workspace, its productivity and collaboration platform, designed to erase boundaries between coworkers, regardless of their location. The tech giant also announced an expanded Google Meet hardware portfolio and interoperability with other conference room solutions.

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For the past year, Google has been taking steps to make its productivity suite more expansive and comprehensive. As workers merge their personal and professional tools and environments, in a new model of "hybrid work," Google is following suit. The official Workspace suite includes Gmail, Chat, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Meet and other tools. 

Back in June, Google announced a new feature for Workspace called Spaces, which is now live for all users. Spaces allow for real-time collaboration across projects and topics and across different modalities, including email, Chat, and Meet. A conversation could, for instance, start in email but move to a more collaborative space like Meet.

While Spaces is now live, users will, in the coming months, see a series of other updates, including enhanced search, in-line topic threading and more robust security & admin features like tools for content moderation. New features will also include a streamlined navigation UI and Spaces that are discoverable to all members of an organization. 

Google is also attempting to encourage more "spontaneous" meetings within Workspace with a new feature called Google Meet calling. It allows a user to call a colleague directly from a one-to-one chat within Gmail. This will ring their device running the Gmail mobile app and send a call chip to Gmail running in a web browser, so they can easily answer from any device. While it's available first for chats within the Gmail app, Google says it's coming to other Workspace endpoints in the near future.

Google also announced a new Companion mode that's rolling out to Google Meet in November. Companion mode allows users to host or join a meeting from within a conference room using their laptops while leveraging the in-room audio and video. This makes it easier to share content, see presentations up close or use other features just as remote attendees do. 

Meanwhile, Google is rolling out an expanded Google Meet hardware portfolio and interoperability with other conference room solutions. First, it's adding two new all-in-one video conferencing devices to complement the Series One Room Kits. The Series One Desk 27 is an all-in-one 27" device designed for small shared spaces or your desktop. The Series One Board 65 is an all-in-one 65" 4K device that can be paired with an optional stand.

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New third-party devices certified for Google Meet.

Google

New third-party devices coming to the Google Meet hardware ecosystem include the Logitech Rally Bar Mini and Rally Bar for Google Meet. Additionally, the Rayz Rally Pro is a new mobile device speaker dock by Appcessori that will automatically launch Google Meet for video meetings. 

Google is also announcing support for bidirectional interoperability with devices from Cisco Webex and Google Meet hardware. This means users will be able to launch a Google Meet meeting on Webex hardware and a Webex meeting on Google Meet hardware. Interoperability is expected to be generally available later this year.