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Google beefs up Workspace with new apps, and Google Assistant

Google is adding intelligence to its suite of Workspace apps, and offering you more controls.

Google Sheets, Docs, and Slides have traditionally been the cornerstone of Google Workspace Essentials. Now you can add Chat, Jamboard, and Calendar, too.

Google made a number of additions and changes to its Google Workspace on the eve of Microsoft Ignite this week. Workspace, formerly known as G Suite, is being beefed up with the addition of a number of notable features, including the ability to use a Nest Hub Max as a second screen for a Google Meet meeting, even in the home. Google is adding its Google Assistant to Workspace, and it’s generally available to respond to questions like “When’s my next meeting?”

Google explained the new additions as a way to continue enabling “hybrid” workspaces that will traverse the home and in-person working. “We’ve been experimenting with ways to bridge the gap between the in-person and the “somewhere else” by pushing our technology and the physical spaces of our campuses to be more inclusive,” Javier Soltero, the vice president and general manager of Google Workspace, wrote in a blog post. “We’re looking for ways to maximize participation everywhere we can—from personal desk space to conference rooms to group collaboration areas.”

google workspace calendar Google

Recurring out-of-office events will be one of the features Google is bringing to Google Workspace.

A number of smaller enhancements will also be added to the Workspace apps in the coming weeks, including:

  • Segmentable working hours, or the ability to schedule work time in blocks
  • Focus time, which can be designated as “executive time” for working through issues without distraction
  • Location indicators, so managers know if an employee will be at home or in the office
  • Time Insights; to help managers know if the employee is meeting their goals
  • Recurring out-of-office events for defining blocks of time when the employee won’t be in

Connecting Google Assistant to the Google Workspace will be a help to workers who also have Google-powered devices on hand, because they’ll theoretically be able to ask questions of Android Auto, their Android phone, and smart speakers to keep them on task. Microsoft is also busy making Cortana and Azure the glue that helps tie together Outlook and the other Microsoft 365 apps. Unfortunately, due to a glitch, the blog post explaining how employees could gain access to this feature was blank at press time.

Google Workspace Essentials is $8 per user per month. It includes Meet, 2TB of Google Drive storage, Google Keep, Sites, and more.