As the company looks to continue keeping pace with Microsoft, Google is making tons of updates to Workspace, including making the cloud-based productivity and collaboration suite available to anyone with a Google account.
Now, users no longer need an enterprise account to use extra features in tools like Drive, Docs, Sheets, Meet and more, giving more than 3 billion users access to the full Google Workspace experience, the company said in an announcement.
In addition, there are several new features and changes to Workspace designed for hybrid work that IT professionals should know.
Google is introducing Spaces to enhance the Rooms experience in Google Chat, creating a dedicated place for organizing people, topics and projects in Workspace. Rooms will evolve into Spaces over the summer, and it will be accompanied by a new “streamlined and flexible user interface.”
Spaces – which appears to be Google’s equivalent of Microsoft Teams – will include new features like in-line topic threading, presence indicators, custom statuses, expressive reactions and a collapsible view. It will be integrated with files and tasks and allow for sharing of information in teams of all sizes.
Other features included in Spaces include in-line topic threading, assigned tasks, expressive reactions, content searching, message pinning, user roles and moderation tools and more.
This will be rolling out to all users of Chat in Gmail over the next few months for organizations with Chat enabled. Workspace customers can get early access to the features by applying to a pre-general availability testing program.
IT admins are advised to turn on Google Chat in Gmail today so their end users can start using Rooms now before it transitions to Spaces when it becomes available.
The company is also making some necessary security improvements to Workspace that are a bit more involved than simply transitioning to Spaces.
This includes new trust rules for Google Drive beta. This new security feature – which replaces “sharing options in Google Drive admin controls – gives admins the ability to set “fine-grained rules” that define whom end users can collaborate with in Drive both within and outside of the organization.
This feature allows admins to either allow, deny or set warning messages when end users try to share files with either internal or external domains.
Admins can apply for the beta or wait for it to start rolling out over the next few months. Once enabled, trust rules can be scoped at the domain, organization unit or groups level with coverage of both My Drive and shared drives. This feature is only available for Google Workspace Enterprise Plus and Education Plus customers.
Google is also adding betas for Drive labels and automated classification and data loss prevention integration, enabling admins to configure custom labels for a domain and help organizations automatically add Drive labels to content based on administrator-defined rules and predefined content detectors.
Google is launching 60 new content detectors including resumes, SEC filings, patents and source code designed to make it easier to scale the use of labels while reducing risk of manual classification errors.
Both manual and automated labels can be used with data loss prevention to prevent external sharing, downloading and printing of some files.
These features are designed for the handling of sensitive data like intellectual property, personal information, data subject to regulations and more. With the integration with data loss prevention, admins can help prevent external sharing and printing of sensitive files. Admins can also create department names, document types, document status and more to facilitate content discovery in advanced search.
The betas will start accepting new organizations on a rolling monthly basis. Admins can apply for the beta here. It is available for Workspace customers except Business Starter, Education Fundamentals, Frontline and G Suite Basic and Business customers.
Google also announced the beta for Google Workspace Client-side encryption for Workspace Enterprise Plus and Education Plus customers. The beta will be available for Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides, and it will support all file types in Drive.
The company says it is “committed toa roadmap that enables Client-side encryption across Google Workspace,” which includes Gmail, Meet and Calendar. Support for Meet is coming in the fall.
This feature adds another layer of encryption by giving customers direct control of encryption keys and the identify provider used to access those keys. When using this feature, customer data will be indecipherable to Google, the company says.
To enable, admins need to choose a key access service partner to decode encrypted Workspace files. Admins can apply for this beta as well. It will begin rolling out in the next few weeks.