Google today announced that G Suite is being rebranded as Google Workspace. In another nod to the Google brand, four-color icons are coming to the Workspace productivity apps: Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Meet. Workspace is also getting new features, like linked previews, smart chips, Doc creation in rooms, and Meet picture-in-picture. Oh, and there are new pricing tiers, so you can’t say it’s just a rebrand.

In July, Google started integrating Chat, Meet, Docs, and the rest into Gmail. Along with the new name, that integrated experience is now generally available to all paying Workspace customers. Google is promising to bring Workspace to education, nonprofit customers, and consumers “in the coming months.”

Also today, Google shared that Workspace now has over 2.6 billion monthly active users (MAUs), up from 2 billion MAUs for G Suite in March. That’s an impressive 30% jump in just seven months, but Google’s ability to convert all those new users into paying customers is unclear. Indeed, Google didn’t give an updated figure on paying customers — the latest is still 6 million monthly paying companies as of March. Google is apparently hoping a rebrand, new features, and an integrated experience will convert more businesses to its suite.

Pandemic workspace

“Work is no longer a physical place that we go to, necessarily,” Google Workspace VP Javier Soltero said yesterday in a press briefing. “Even though we’ve had mobile technology in the past, and people have been able to do some work on the go. The idea that we’re able to build and run organizations, governments, financial institutions, any size of business, and do it in a way that doesn’t require a physical presence that was previously referred to as an office will stay with us. Not because we will never return to offices, but because I think it’s important to note that work will take place everywhere in between and that those offices will take on a different role.”

Soltero noted that the Google Workspace team has three new executives (heads of product management, marketing, and design) who joined during the pandemic and thus “have never set foot on a Google campus.” Furthermore, the leadership team that launched today’s effort “has never actually sat in the same place, physically, ever.”

The new Workspace name suggests that where you work is not tied to a physical office. And yet Soltero claims that “no part of this was a response to COVID-19. The work to deliver the integrated experience began in 2019.” Take that as you will.

New Workspace features

Google Workspace is supposed to bring G Suite tools like chat, email, voice and video calling, and content management into a unified experience. To pull that off, Google is adding the following new features to reduce switching between apps and tabs.

Google Workspace linked previews

Available today, linked previews in Docs, Sheets, and Slides let you preview the content of a link without leaving the original document.

Google Workspace smart chips

Beginning to roll out today, when you @mention someone in Docs, Sheets, and Slides, a smart chip will display details providing context and suggest actions. You can add that person to Contacts or reach out via email, chat, or video.

Google Workspace doc creation in rooms

In the coming weeks, Google Workspace will let you create and collaborate on a document (Docs, Sheets, Slides) within a room in Chat. This should make it easier to share content and directly work together with anyone outside your organization.

Google Workspace Meet picture in picture

In the coming months, Google will roll out Meet picture-in-picture to Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Google hopes the benefit will be nonverbal cues that come with seeing someone’s face while collaborating in real time.

Additionally, Google announced a slew of security features coming to Workspace: new classification, audit logging, and detection capabilities in Meet to prevent abusive users from disrupting meetings; automatic classification of spammy Chat rooms; data protection insights for Gmail; and a redesigned rules page in the Google Workspace admin console. Lastly, Google says Workspace is the first major productivity suite to receive an ISO/IEC 27701 certification as a data processor.

New pricing tiers

For smaller businesses with 300 seats or fewer, Google Workspace has three tiers:

  • Business Starter ($6/user) for small businesses that need custom email for their domain.
  • Business Standard ($12/user) for companies that need more advanced productivity features, such as larger meetings and more storage.
  • Business Plus ($18/user) for organizations that need additional security and compliance capabilities like Vault and advanced mobile device management (MDM).

Not much is changing at the first two levels. The previous Basic and Business plans had shorter tier names but the same prices of $6/user and $12/user. The Business Plus edition is “a new price point to provide more advanced capabilities to SMBs who do not need the entire enterprise-level offerings,” Google says.

There’s also Essentials ($8/active user), which lets you get started with video conferencing and collaboration tools without having to replace your current email or calendar systems. The more expensive Enterprise editions (additional productivity features, enterprise-grade administrative controls, and advanced security and compliance capabilities) still require going through Google’s sales team or its partner network.

Google says current contracts for existing G Suite licenses will continue to function until a customer transitions to Workspace. For customers not ready to transition, Google plans to share more information “over the coming months to identify a transition path that best suits their needs.”


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