Google rolls out Meet features, including ‘companion mode’

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Google today announced a series of updates to Workspace, its collection of cloud computing, productivity, and collaboration tools, software, and products formerly known as G Suite. Highlights include improved search, Meet calling and live translated captions in Meet, and new all-in-one video conferencing devices for Meet from Logitech and Avocor.

As millions of businesses emerge from more than a year of fully remote working, the hybrid working model is becoming the new norm. According to a survey44% of employees and employers favor hybrid working arrangements, while only 5% mention remote working as a possibility.

The spaces

This morning marks the launch of Workspaces, which are dashboards for real-time project collaboration. First announced in July, the spaces – which can be made discoverable in search – integrate tools such as Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet and Tasks, allowing users to participate in topical discussions.

“With Spaces, teams can share ideas, collaborate on documents, and manage tasks from one place,” explained Sanaz Ahari, Senior Director of Product Management, in a blog post. “Because all of their work is retained for future reference, team members can easily jump in and contribute when it’s most convenient for them, seeing a full history of conversations, context, and content along the way.”

Above: Spaces in Google Workspace.

Image credit: Google

Beyond spaces, Workspace benefits from a unified dashboard with access to inboxes, chats and meetings, as well as the online chat thread, which allows users to reply to any message. in a space. Other new features are content moderation and space management tools, as well as the ability to set the location (e.g. virtual or physical) for each working day on a regular basis or by segmentable working hours in Calendar.

New Meet experiences

On the Meet side, Google is rolling out Meet calling to mobile and desktop devices. Going forward, Meet calls will allow Workspace users to call team members directly from a one-to-one chat, ring their devices running the Gmail app, and transfer them. calls to Gmail executed in a web browser.

Companion Mode

Above: Companion mode in Google Meet.

Image credit: Google

In November, Companion Mode will come to Meet, allowing users to host or join a meeting from a conference room using a laptop while pressing room audio and video. With Companion Mode, users can share content or view presentations on their devices without audio reverberation, access meeting chat and whiteboard, vote on polls, and post questions in the Q&A.

Accompanying Companion Mode is a live translated captioning feature, which will be available in Meet by the end of the year. Google says the feature will translate meetings from English to French, German, Spanish and Portuguese, with more to follow in the near future.

Discover the material

Google also announced additions to its Meet hardware portfolio, following the unveiling of its Series One Room kits earlier this year. One is the Series One Desk 27, a 27-inch all-in-one device, and the other is the Series One Board 65, a 65-inch 4K display that can be paired with an optional stand. Both were made in partnership with Avocor, integrate Google’s Jamboard app, and can be used as an external display via USB-C.

Table Series 1 65

Above: page 65 of series 1.

Image credit: Google

New third-party options include Logitech Rally Bar Mini and Rally Bar, which are designed for small to medium-sized rooms, and the Rayz Rally Pro, a speaker dock for mobile devices from Appcessori that automatically launches Meet for videoconferences.

These devices will be the first to support two-way interoperability with Cisco, allowing users to launch a Meet meeting on Webex hardware and a Webex meeting on Meet hardware. Calling interoperability between Meet and Webex is supported on the One Board 65 Series, One Desk 27 Series, and the rest of the Meet hardware portfolio, as well as the Webex Room Series, Room Kit, Desk Series, and Board Series. Google expects general availability later this year.

Series One Office 27

Above: Desk 27 from the One series.

Image credit: Google

“As some people return to the office, teams need this ability to flexibly collaborate from anywhere, anytime,” Ahari said in a press release. “At Google, we face the same challenges I’ve heard from many of our customers: how do we stay in sync, make decisions, and develop a team culture in a hybrid environment? The innovations we deliver today to customers are helping bridge the gaps of virtual and in-person collaboration.I’m especially excited about Spaces – a new dedicated space in Workspace to share information, advance projects, and build community as teammates.

Growth of remote meetings

Workspace’s expansion comes as companies begin to realize the benefits of remote and hybrid working. Companies are saving an average of $11,000 per part-time teleworker per year, according to the latest survey by Global Workspace Analytics. Nearly 9 out of 10 employees say that videoconferencing reduces the time it takes to complete their projects, resulting potential operational savings.

“With long-term hybrid workflows gaining traction, organizations are looking for better ways to adapt to rapidly changing work environments and employee needs,” said Dan Root, principal analyst at Wainhouse. Research, in a statement. “Workspace continues to expand its product offerings and capabilities to provide the right technology and tools that enable individuals and organizations to embrace a work culture from anywhere. For example, the new Meet Series One hardware devices can adapt and adapt to the user’s desired workflow, making it easier to fill gaps in hybrid working.

Google said in its July earnings call that Workspace revenue grew in the last quarter, driven by growth in seats and average spend per seat. The company’s Google Cloud unit, which hosts collaboration tools, saw sales jump 54% year-over-year to $4.6 billion.

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