Gmail is getting the ability to make and receive voice and video calls in one-on-one chats. Users will now be able to call people using Google Meet directly from their Gmail mobile or Web apps. The call will ring the Gmail app and not the standalone Google Meet app, though Google says the latter will also get the ability to make and receive VoIP calls in the future. Google is also beginning the rollout of its Spaces feature— a Slack-like product that lets users collaborate via group chats — within the Gmail app.
The new features announced by Google further integrates the latest Workspace tools within the Gmail app that now has three tabs in Chat, Spaces, and Meet, alongside emails. The Google Meet calling feature will let users directly place one-on-one calls — without having to first generate a meeting link — via the Gmail mobile or browser app in addition to being able to join Google Meet meetings.
"Our intention is to bring Meet calling to all the natural endpoints in Workspace where you'd initiate an ad-hoc call including chats, people cards, and Spaces, but this will come first to one-to-one chats within the Gmail mobile app", said Sanaz Ahari, Senior Director of Product Management at Google.
The Spaces tab — announced earlier this year as redesigned 'Rooms' — is also beginning to roll out for Gmail users. Google says it's a “dedicated place for team collaboration” integrated with other Google Workspace tools including Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and Tasks. The group chat-like feature will let participants share documents and the space will preserve their full history of conversations. Google has detailed more features in its blogpost that will be added to spaces in the “coming months”.
Additionally, Google Calendar has also got an update that allows team member set their location — office, home, elsewhere — for each workday in Calendar.
Apart from integrating new features into Gmail, Google is looking to add more tools for hybrid meetings. The company will roll out a ‘Companion mode' in Google Meet in November. With this feature, users can host or join a meeting from within a conference room using their laptop while leveraging the in-room audio and video — without creating double audio feedback. This will allow them to share presentations, documents, etc. to the meeting from their laptops as well as see shared material up close.
Google Meet will also get live-translated captions through the Companion mode by the end of the year. Google has confirmed that they are presently working on translating meetings in English to French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Google has also unveiled two new video-conferencing devices — Series One Desk 27 and Series One Board 65 — to expand its hardware portfolio. The 27-inch (Series One Desk 27) is meant for small spaces and office or home desks, whereas the (65-inch) Series One Board 65 is a 4K screen suited for larger spaces. In addition, the company has certified third-party devices including the Logitech Rally Bar Mini and Rally Bar for Google Meet to support the newly launched features.
It's Google I/O time this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, as we discuss Android 12, Wear OS, and more. Later (starting at 27:29), we jump over to Army of the Dead, Zack Snyder's Netflix zombie heist movie. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.