The bulk of the updates relate to Google’s videoconferencing platform Google Meet. As offices reopen and some workers go back to conducting in-person meetings, collaboration vendors are under pressure to ensure that both remote and physically present attendees both have the same meeting experience.
Earlier this year, Google announced its own hybrid work plans, with the company expecting the majority of its employees to be in the office roughly three days a week.
Google Meet levels the hybrid working playing field
In order to level the hybrid working playing field, Google is introducing in-meeting reactions that will let attendees visually express themselves with emojis. Users will also be able to bring documents from Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides into virtual meetings and present them, all from the same tab.
Updates to Companion Mode means those physically present in conference rooms will also be able to add their own personal video tile from their laptop camera, making it easier for other attendees to see their expressions and gestures. This update directly works toward making sure those in a physical space have the same experience as those who are working remotely.
A new picture-in-picture feature will allow presenters and hosts running Meet on Chrome browsers to see their audience while navigating different tabs and windows, while those using trusted Google Meet hardware, including products from Logitech, Acer and Asus, will start to experience automatic noise cancellation.
For larger meetings, Google is adding the ability to conduct Q&A and polls in livestreams and, later this year, hosts will have the ability to livestream meetings directly to YouTube from the Meet activities tab.
Finally, from May, Google will be rolling out updates to bring optional client-side encryption to Google Meet, and later this year will introduce optional end-to-end encryption for all meetings.
Google Chat and Voice updates
While the updates to Google Meet aim to improve real-time collaboration, Google is also looking to improve its other platforms to help facilitate more asynchronous ways of working.
Google Spaces (which replaced Rooms in Google Chat last year) will now offer inline threading, allowing members of a space to respond to specific comments and create side conversations, while keeping the dialogue organized and contextual.
Users can now invite others to join a Space via a shared link, and later this year, Google says it will enable users to search and join any Spaces across an organization. It’s also improving search within Chat and Spaces and bringing filter chips to chat search results later this year.
Team size limits in Spaces will increase to 8,000 and then again to 25,000 by the end of the year. Google is also adding features that improve content moderation, the ability to designate managers, guidelines for specific Spaces, and new admin capabilities to delete Spaces.
The updates to Google Voice include a SIP Link that will allow customers to connect SIP trunks from their chosen telecommunications carrier, enable on-demand call recording, and automated call recording.
On-demand call recording will be available to Standard and Premier subscribers from next month, while automated call recording will only be available to Premier subscribers.