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Google Workspace update adds Meet calls to Docs and Sheets, chat threads to Spaces

Update aims to addressed 'top requested' features from enterprise customers

Man logging into Google Meet

Google has announced a spate of new features for Workspace to make it a more "equitable and productive" experience.

The changes include new encryption options on Google Meet and an integration of the video conferencing platform for services such as Docs and Sheets.

Many of these changes are aimed at improving the experience of Workspace and Meet for remote workers, with an emphasis on inclusion. They range from "fun" additions, such as new emoji reactions during calls to more substantial features to bring dispersed workforces closer together.

Starting with collaboration updates, in the coming weeks users will be able to make calls with the Google Meet app directly in Docs, Sheets, or Slides. So when collaborating in Docs, for example, users can instantly start a meeting without leaving the tab they're in and speak to and see their coworker.

While presenting, users will also be able to see their audience while they navigate different tabs like Sheets or even Gmail with a new 'Picture-in-picture' feature that runs on the Chrome browser. This will allow up to four video tiles of meeting attendees to appear in a floating window that can sit on top of other applications. So users can still send messages in Gmail while talking to teammates.

A GIF of Google Meet's Picture-to-picture feature

Google Blog

The calls themselves have also had a security boost, with an option for client-side end-to-end encryption, a feature that is currently in beta but should be fully available in May. The aim here is to give users direct control over encryption keys and there will be an option for end-to-end encryption for all meetings, later in the year.

There will also be updates to Spaces, which is Google's Slack-like chat app. 'Inline threading', which Google says has been a "top request" from enterprise customers, will allow users to respond to specific comments and keep dialogue separate from the main channel, similar to how Slack's chat functions work.

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Last week, Google launched a feature that enables users to invite others to join a Space via a shared link, but later this year it is upgrading this functionality with a search function. Users will be able to search across their organisation for a specific Space to join. What's more, there will also be an increase in team size limits, which will be going up to 8,000. Later in the year, that number will be pushed even higher to 25,000, the company said.

Content moderation features will also be coming in the next few weeks, such as the ability to designate managers and guidelines for specific Spaces as well as capabilities for administrators to delete unwanted Spaces.

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