Forward-looking: To create a better hybrid work setting, Google is updating Workspace apps with a slew of features. One of the highlights of this update is video and voice calling contacts through the Gmail mobile app and Google Meet, allowing users to do the equivalent of a "spontaneous hallway conversation" in a hybrid work environment.
The Gmail mobile app will be the first to receive the feature, with Google Meet following soon after. Once the apps are updated, you'll receive a notification when someone calls you, as well as a "call chip" on your computer, allowing you to choose where to answer the call.
Google Workspace is also getting a redesigned interface for Gmail, turning it into a communication hub for work. As part of the makeover, Google is also introducing Spaces as a "central place for team collaboration in Workspace," which should now be available for all users.
As promised, Google will deeply integrate Spaces with other Workspace tools, such as Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and Tasks. Spaces will offer threads to separate chatting subjects, searchable spaces for members to access, and enhanced security and admin features to configure permissions.
Google Calendar is also receiving an important update that lets users set their location during a given workday. Moreover, Google Meet will get a Companion mode in November so users can leverage audiovisual hardware and live-translate captions from English to French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, with more to come.
To prepare for the launch of Companion Mode on Google Meet, the company is also expanding the Google Meet hardware portfolio with two new all-in-one (AIO) video conferencing devices. The first is the Series One Desk 27, a 27-inch AIO device suitable for home and office use. The other is the Series One Board 65, a 65-inch 4K device that can be used with an optional stand to turn "any room or space into a video collaboration hub in minutes."
Google also announced third-party devices certified for Google-Meet use, including the Logitech Rally Bar and Rally Bar Mini, complete room solutions for small and mid-sized rooms, and the Rayz Rally Pro mobile speaker dock.
Google's decision to upgrade Gmail to a communication hub looks good and practical, but what will happen to the remaining Google communication apps? If you have an app that does it all, there's no need to have or use multiple apps to do the same.