Google is committed to making Gmail your favorite hub for more than just messaging. As The Verge noted, Google is releasing a major Workspace update that will add direct calls via Google Meet to the Gmail mobile app.
You’ll be able to call coworkers and other contacts for a quick one-on-one chat when email or a scheduled meeting doesn’t work. The feature will also send a “chip” to your computer if you prefer to respond on a larger screen.
The company presented the feature as a rough equivalent of “spontaneous” office chats in a hybrid work environment where some employees are at home. And before the doubts get in the way – yes, the Meet app will eventually add that calling feature as well.
Workspace changes also include a broader overhaul of Gmail, which makes it a hub for other activities. Now the user will see the “spaces” promised by Google, a renamed and expanded version of the Rooms chat channels with full threaded messages and the option to make the spaces visible in search. You can expect easier navigation between email, chats, spaces and Meet, not to mention improved administration and security tools to help manage communications. Business users should see these changes starting today, but daily Gmail owners will see updates later.
Other settings include options to specify whether the user is in the office or virtual on a given day (important for meeting planning) and a Companion for Meet mode that lets you use the audiovisual hardware of a conference room. Google is also expanding its Meet hardware ecosystem. There are two new Series One devices (third-party equipment made to meet Google’s goals), including the Series One Desk 27 MFP and the Series One Board 65 4K Collaborative Card. More gadgets are also Meet certified, such as Logitech’s Rally Bar and Rally Bar Mini room solutions, as well as the Rayz Rally Pro speaker dock.
Google’s ambitions for Gmail are pretty clear. Like Microsoft Outlook, it is becoming a portal for all office communications, not just email and occasional meetings. This is not surprising when Google is directly competing with Office. At the same time, it raises questions about support for dedicated apps. What do other clients need when Gmail theoretically does it all?