Google Workspace — the company’s suite of business tools previously known as Google Suite — is now free, and available to everyone.
This may be confusing to some Google users, who have been using apps such as Gmail, Meet, and Docs for a while without paying a dime. But Google Workspace does have some extra features which were previously available only to paying customers.
Making the switch to Workspace will give users a more integrated experience. They’ll get smart suggestions in emails, and be able to show a document in a Google Meet call with one click.
Central to this new experience is Google Chat (formerly Hangouts), which is now available for everyone and can be turned on in Gmail’s settings. With Chat, you’ll be able to create group chat experiences, which are currently called Rooms but will be “evolved” to Spaces over the summer. Spaces will bring several new features, including in-line topic threading, presence indicators, custom statuses, expressive reactions, and a collapsible view, all of which sounds a lot like Slack, only integrated inside of Gmail.
And yes, it’s a little weird to open up a feature (Rooms) to more users only to immediately rename it (Spaces), but Google has a knack for confusing its users with constant name changes for similar features.
Google’s massive announcement also includes several new features in Workspace, such as Companion Mode for Google Meet, which will launch in September and give meeting participants access to interactive tools such as Q&As, polls, and live captions, as well as new RVSP options for Calendar, coming “soon.” Larger companies will be happy to know that client-side encryption is coming to Google Workspace, as are enhanced phishing and malware protections.
Finally, Google also launched Google Workspace Individual, which is a new subscription option for individual small business owners. It has several premium features on top of Google Workspace, such as smart booking services, personalized email marketing, and pro video meetings.
Google Workspace Individual costs $9.99 per month and will be rolling out “soon” to six markets: the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, and Japan.