Google is aiming to broaden the appeal of its online productivity suite, Google Workspace, by making it freely available to anyone that has a Google account.
This means that all of the company's three billion users, from enterprise to education, can access the full Google Workspace platform, and apps like Gmail, Chat, Docs and more, without the need to pay for a subscription. Some paid-for tiers will remain, however, along with a new tier designed exclusively for sole traders.
There are also new features for the free tier that address specific challenges workers will face with the switch to hybrid working, These include updates to Google Chat, new subscription offers and greater security across the platform.
"Collaboration doesn't stop at the workplace - our products have been optimised for broad participation, sharing and helpfulness since the beginning," said Javier Soltero, VP and GM, Google Workspace.
"Our focus is on delivering consumers, workers, teachers and students alike an equitable approach to collaboration, while still providing flexibility that allows these different subsets of users to take their own approach to communication and collaboration."
The biggest change for free users is that Google Rooms has evolved into 'Google Spaces'. This is effectively a private chat area, similar to those found Slack or Microsoft Teams, where groups of users can chat and collaborate via text or video call.
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There are a range of new functions within this, such as 'threads' and presence indicators that let users know if participants are free or available to talk. Users can also pin messages to Spaces so that important announcements don't get lost amongst the general chatter.
Google is also adding a Companion Mode to Google Meet which it claims allows everyone to continuously contribute to meetings, no matter if they are in the office or at home.
For the paid-tier, Google has added client-side document encryption which will allow businesses to use their own encryption keys.
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Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.
Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognise him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.