Google finally makes Assistant more useful for your work life

Among other Workspace updates, Google Meet is getting a bunch of upgrades.


With many companies becoming more comfortable with letting employees work remotely even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, it's important that folks have the tools to do their jobs just as well at home. With that in mind, Google is bolstering Workspace (formerly G Suite) with many updates.

For one thing, Workspace's Google Assistant feature is, at long-last, coming out of beta. You can use Assistant to join meetings, find out what's coming up on your work Calendar and send messages. The feature is available on mobile devices, and it's currently in beta on smart displays and speakers.

Google Meet now has more second-screen options. You can take part in chats, polls and Q&As on any device, including Nest Hub Max. The video call app is getting live stream upgrades as well, including polls, Q&As and live captions. The latter will be available for English, Spanish, German, Portuguese and French at the outset. Other Meet updates include a mobile tile view, so you can see more people at the same time on smaller displays, as well as for split-screen and picture-in-picture support on mobile.

To help frontline workers collaborate with corporate teams effectively and securely, they'll be able to start using a service called Google Workspace Frontline in the coming weeks. There'll be an easy way for teams to build custom AppSheet apps in Sheets and Drive, which, according to Google, will help frontline workers streamline and digitize their work. Google says that these features will give those workers secure access to information they need on any device.

There are several other updates centered around managing your attention and time. As Google recently announced, you'll be able to mark multiple blocks in your working hour settings to let your colleagues know when you're available for meetings. Similarly, you can add recurring out-of-office events and, during that time, meeting requests will be declined automatically.

A new event type called Focus Mode will let you set up blocks of time during which notifications are limited. Google will also send you (not your boss, thankfully) Time Insights that will break down how you're spending your days.

Through location indicators across the suite of Workspace apps, you'll be able to let coworkers know when you'll be at home and which days you'll be at the office. Chat, Jamboard and Calendar will appear in Workspace Essentials for easier access.

Workspace will also have more security tools. Expanded Data Regions will let Workspace customers choose the geographic location where data is stored, while Assured Controls is about helping them make decisions about controlling provider access.